Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Moving Out

Bear and I have been enjoying the open spaces of fall.  We are still riding primarily on the strip, but with the soybean field nearby all mowed, it makes it easy to venture out a short ways or a medium long ways.  So I have taken to exploring on Bear a little more.  Just the two of us.

It has been very relaxing.  For so long I would take comfort from other horses and riders when we would go out on the trails, but lately Bear and I have been moving together really well, so it is fun to just poke around and see what we see.  Bear is very relaxed on these little forays, and it doesn't matter if we're doing a slow walk, working on our faster walk, or moving at a nice trot.  He's great for all of it.

Today we went out into the fields more than we have been lately.  Robin was on the strip doing groundwork with Steen, so if we were going to go anywhere, it was going to be by ourselves.

So we warmed up on the strip like we usually do, and then we went up and down the hills in the soybean fields and down the drainage, over to the second strip a few times.  We were mostly moving at the trot, and Bear was great with this.  Sometimes I will have a hard time keeping him in a nice, steady trot, but lately this has been getting better.  I have not been working on it specifically, I think it is just one of those things that is coming around through working on other things like speeding up our walk or getting nice circles or doing figure eights with no hands or whatever.  It all seems to come together, and I love when I get results on the things I'm not working on. 

The good news is that Steen is moving nicely.  We are also going out of town this weekend for a Martin Black clinic.  We found out he would be at a barn near my parents house.  Normally he is so far away from us, so we had to go check it out.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

It has been a tough few weeks with the horses.  Steen's leg is slow to heal, Laredo has been troubled by a sore shoulder, and we've had some less than ideal weather. 

But today we finally had a day that felt like normal.  Laredo is getting better, so Robin was able to ride him.  We started out on the strip and got nice and warmed up before taking a leisurely stroll through the soybean fields and around the second strip.  Everyone was good, and we had the sun warming us up and drying everything out.

After the ride we let the guys graze for a while.  Robin went to grab Steen so that all of us could hang out and enjoy the weather.

I have been lucky that Bear has been doing well these past few weeks, so I've gotten a lot of short rides in this month.  Here are a few shots of the things I should have been blogging about.

Hanging out with Laredo when we noticed his sore shoulder.

Robin has gotten quite a few good rides on Bear this month.

Robin gave me a super great lesson one day.  It's been well over a year since she last gave me a true lesson.

One day the herd was out in the hills and Bear was the only one around to enjoy the brand new bales.

October brought some crisp weather, but many of the days were really pretty.

Moving Bear out.  He trimmed down a lot with all our rides and the cool nights.

We also just hung out a lot, too.

Robin borrowed Rowdy from Marissa for a few nice rides..

Riding in the soybean fields is one of my favorite things about fall.
Later this afternoon we met our friend Jean and her family at her barn to take some photos of them.  They recently added Zagalo to their family, he's an 8 year old Lusitano.

We had met him once before, but it was cool to spend some more time with him.  We spent quite a few minutes with him at liberty in their awesome indoor arena.  He was very responsive and happy to move away or hang out with me.

So far it has been a great weekend.  Should be great weather tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to more rides out in the fields with Bear and Laredo.  Hopefully Steen will be back on the rides in just a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hearing Buck In My Head

We continue to watch the 7 Clinics DVDs, and they continue to be wonderful.  It is great that we can latch onto an exercise, see multiple different moments of Buck talking about it along with many people working on it, and then go out and try it ourselves.

Today I spent a while warming Bear up in a circle.  He was happy to see me and responsive to my legs from the beginning, so we were getting some really excellent circles.  But like often happens, Bear was not high in energy and was even losing a bit as I continue to work at the walk and trot in the circle.

Then Robin suggested we work on an exercise we watched the night before.  In order to get life into your horse, Buck would have people stop them, back five steps, and then move out with energy.  They would trot off for a few steps and then the riders would bring to the walk with a soft feel and continue on in an energetic walk.

Robin and I chose a big oval on the strip to ride around and took turns calling out when we should stop, back, and move out.  We wouldn't say everything, the rider would just call out 'back,' but each time I would hear Buck's distinct voice: Stop 'em. Back 'em five steps.  Move 'em out with life.

From the beginning of this exercise Bear took the with life very seriously.  He was springing into a huge, floaty trot each time.  At one point he pushed off so hard his hind slipped and it felt like he was falling out from underneath me.  He quickly recovered and pushed off again like nothing happened. 

I have felt Bear move like this before, but never with such consistency.  It was really surprising to get such fast results. Towards the end of the exercise we just moved out at the trot for a few laps.  Bear was eating up ground, and twice he picked up the lope.  I just got a soft feel and moved back to the trot.  Once I built up all that life I didn't want to squash it.

From there we went on to play a little cow.  Bear stayed light and lively, giving me some very soft and collected lopes, and Laredo continues to improve in all movements the game requires.  Robin even had him loping around us a few times.

We cooled down with a loop around the fields and the second strip.  I continued working on keeping Bear lively.  At this time he was getting tired again, but with a moderate amount of effort, I was able to get his walk much snappier.  His fast walk continued after the ride as I led him to the barn and later out into the pasture.  This is definitely something we will have to continue to work on.