Sunday, December 9, 2012

Laredo and Work

It has been an interesting experience having our 3 year old these past 6 months.  When he first arrived it was a matter of getting to know him and making sure he knew the basics.  Then we started working on doing more with less.  After that we began to broaden his horizons by taking him out and about (by far his favorite thing). 

In the fall we had a nice mix of everything going.  But then he had a little injury, and of course Steen had a bigger injury.  That combination meant he got a decent amount of time off, and I really got a lot of time off of him.  These past few rides I have been thinking of getting us back to where we were in the early fall, but perhaps that isn't very realistic.  Neither one of us is stagnant in our experiences with horses and riders (I've been working with horses just about as long as he has been alive, so the changes still come fast for us). 

So now I find myself thinking about how to move forward, and where that forward should take us.  Laredo, in many ways, is a very accomplished horse.  He moves off pressure extremely well; I can take him anywhere I want him to go with my seat.  He stays soft, and he understands what we ask of him.

Until he gets distracted or simply loses motivation.  That is the real difficulty Laredo and I have.  Bear can go through silly patterns and repeat things that I need to work on all day long.  He's fine with it.  Sure, such things are not usually his first choice, but he really is happy to comply.  As I have only been riding a short while, and only thinking about training for an even shorter amount of time, I have a whole lot of things to work on.  A lot of those things I need to do over, and over, and over again.

But such repetition does not work well for young Laredo.  So I am struggling a bit to keep things fresh and open and pay attention to what he needs and less so to what I need or want.  This is a very, very fine line, as I can quickly find myself letting Laredo out of things due to his age or attitude.  I don't want him "getting his way," so to speak, but I also don't want him to just check out and go through the ride without giving me or his own feet any thought. 

Needless to say, this is a work in progress for us.  Sometimes things were working well today (our trotting during the routine, pivoting on particular feet, circle work) and other things were not working too well (playing cow, moving out a little more, backing).  By the end of the ride we had made some nice progress from where we started.  I think that is the most important thing. That and the fact that he didn't run away with me.

I did get to ride with my new mecate again.  It softened up very, very nicely with just one soaking.  It even looks OK next to the don't-shoot-me-orange safety vest.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Birthday Ride!

Yesterday was my birthday.  I took the day off work so I could fully enjoy it.  I had a leisurely morning of opening gifts, drinking coffee and eating a nice breakfast.  Then I had a hard workout and even squeezed in a short nap.  In the afternoon we went out to the barn before going downtown for dinner.  It could not have gotten much better.

Robin gave me a number of very nice gifts, including a new mane hair mecate.  Funny, I know, as I gave her one for her birthday.  But she actually ordered this one before she received hers.  I guess we both had been talking enough about how much nicer the ropes on our hackamores are than the ones on the snaffles.

As it was my birthday, I really just felt like riding my own horse, but I also wanted to try out the new rope.  So I just tied it to my bosal so we could see how it looked.

Gorgeous, of course.  It is an 8 strand, whereas our others are 6 strand.  It makes it look much thinner, but it is still a nice 5/8ths inch rope.  The white flecks against the black and redish brown rows make for a super cool pattern.

The only downside is how stiff the new ropes can be.  It was certainly more supple than the others (perhaps due to the increased number of strands), but it definitely needs a good soaking.

Robin had a great time on Steen.  His leg continues to look better, and he might even be over his cold. He only coughed a couple of times today, and we even managed to do a decent amount of work.  We went through the routine a lot just to get some good trotting in.  Then we played a little cow, and Bear and Steen were both happy to throw in some lopes.  At 50 degrees, it was significantly more comfortable for all of us than the last ride.

We also worked on some backing and pivoting off of specific feet.  Robin snapped a few nice shots of us working with the new mecate.

The hair ropes truly are amazing.  They have a great feel in your hands, and they are very lively when doing groundwork and giving a release.  If you haven't tried one out, I highly recommend grabbing one.  They can appear a little bit pricey compared to some other reins, but they will easily last for decades, so are quite worth it.

At the end of the ride we ventured over to the second strip for a little while.  Laredo had been munching on the bales, but he noticed our absence and wandered over to the fence to await our return.  He even nickered as we approached.  That kid is so funny, he doesn't want to work hard when he's out (or even work lightly), but he can't stand others exploring without him.

We did have some apple cores to share with them, and he was a little overexcited to get to those.  Here he is trying his best to get to the apple but not push on me.

Little bit of a fail there, Laredo.  I did back him up just after that.

This was a really great year overall for me, and an especially great year with the horses.  Can't wait to see with the next one brings.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

This is December?

It was nearly 70 degrees this afternoon.  I like the 70s, but not in December.  And the horses, with their thick, fluffy coats, really didn't appreciate it. 

We took Bear and Laredo out onto the strip before venturing off into the big pasture.  It was a nice feeling to sit on my own horse again and just know that he wasn't going to run away with me.  Of course, I never thought Laredo would do that, either.  But there you go, that's horses.  Especially young ones.

We marched off into the hills and the guys were lethargic.  I was a little bit, too.  Once we got nice and warmed up, we went to the top of the big flat hill (where I fell off last fall) to do some work.  We don't often work Laredo when we are out and about, so we were curious to see how things would go.

Bear and I just did our own thing, lots of walking up and down hills, exploring the new drainage spots, and getting some trotting in.  I didn't want to work him too hard as he got pretty sweaty just doing that.

Robin stayed up near the top and worked on some simple trotting exercises with Laredo.  He was hot and maybe a little grumpy as he did throw a few tantrums.  Robin gracefully worked through the problems and got him responding nicely.

We explored the far corners of the pasture, took the long way down to the bottom of the strip and then called it a ride.