Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Lessons

Lately I've been in one of those places with Bear where things feel like they've drastically improved.  I am still surprised by these feelings, but I love that they keep coming every couple of months.

The big changes I've noticed are in how he listens to my seat.  The hopping into the lope problem has almost completely disappeared.  He will still think about doing it, but then he always notices I am still posting and giving him the trot signal.  I think all the transitions we've been doing in the indoor this winter have helped me fine tune my seat a little more.  I know it can get better, but it is a good sign that Bear is following along.

The other change is just a general willingness to follow me.  Bear is very much a leader, so it has been a challenge for me to learn about horses and softness and also learn how to step in and be the one in charge.  He's been great about filling in for me when I'm not ready for something or not making the right choice in a situation.  But lately he's be ceding more authority to me.

I really think the flag has been a big part of this.  The last few times out I have really focused on getting him relaxed and responsive with the flag, particularly on his troubled right side.

Today we made huge strides in that department.  His pivots from right to left and left to right were almost identical. Both on the ground and under saddle.  He was not worried by the flapping flag when we were riding around, and this time I felt confident enough to keep the flag in my hand while we trotted and loped around.  He was extremely uncertain with this at first, but he stayed very attentive and didn't do a single thing I didn't ask of him.

We also continued to work on getting close to the wall on his right side.  I did this to put the flag away on the ledge, but also a few times just to practice it.  This is something I never used to do.  I remember a few years ago when there would be a noise or something I could tell Bear didn't like, and I was very careful to get nowhere near that thing.

Now I am starting to notice problems and things that are difficult for him, and instead I think "I should work on that right now."  So we worked on sidepassing up to the side of the arena and hanging out there while I fumbled with the flag or tapped on the wood and aluminum siding.  They weren't perfect, but we were able to end on a really great note with him standing and sighing while I poked around up there.

Robin was having a good ride on Laredo, and as the sun was shining again, we figured we go take a walk in the fields.  Unfortunately it was super soft and mucky.  We got into the pasture and up to some high ground, but even that wasn't very pleasant.  On top of that, Laredo was fixated on something in the far edge of the pasture.  We think it was a trickling stream, but we're not certain.  Either way, we do know it was causing Laredo to dance around and not pay as much attention to Robin as he should.  She was able to work through it pretty nicely, so hopefully next time we're out it will be a little drier.  It is a lot easier to work through things with good footing.

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