Saturday, March 23, 2013

Repeat

We had so much fun on yesterday's ride we decided to more or less repeat it today.  It has been too long since we got out and about, so doing the same thing over again was not a drag at all.

I had ridden Bear a few times in a row, so it was my turn to get Laredo.  As I mentioned earlier this week, our rides have been pretty sub par.  I wasn't too worried about riding out with him, but I wanted to get some things working for us before we headed out.

From the time he met me in the pasture I really worked to keep his focus on me.  I didn't want him zoning out at all and getting hooked on other things.  So if his attention strayed I would gently tip his nose back to me or get him to move his feet.  If he was really locked onto something else he had to hustle those feet or got a small pop on the nose.

I carried that same mentality into the arena for our warm up, and it definitely had a positive impact.  I worked hard to pick each activity and make sure we did it with quality.  In a short amount of time we worked on flexing, backing, moving he hind and front, figure eights a various gaits, and getting a steady trot and canter.  Only towards the very end did he start to get a little sticky with his backs, but not too bad.  And I knew we could work on those periodically throughout the day.

So we headed out for the strip and walked down to the big pasture.  Laredo has an interesting history when it comes to walking down hills.  He's not very good at it, and he doesn't like it.  He's been known to charge straight down them, refuse to go down them, and throw in some bucks at the top of them.  Today he started marching right down the first steep hill with no trouble.  I know he's been getting stronger, so maybe this is easier for him.  But then halfway down his front foot slipped out from under him.  I worried for a second we'd tumble forward, but he very calmly caught his balance and proceeded on.  Very interesting.  Unfortunately the rest of the day's down hills were hit or miss.

When we rounded the bend into the big pasture, he was a little nervous about something.  He kept looking around, and his head carriage was much higher than usual.  I would gently bend him or ask him to soften up to make sure he was listening.  He responded nicely, but it didn't make a lasting impression.

Then he spooked at something.  He just rolled back on his haunches and launched himself to the right at the canter.  He tucked right behind Steen and stopped.  I didn't even have time to react; thankfully everything was so smooth it wasn't a problem.  Neither Steen, nor Robin or myself could see what was bugging him.  Silly kid.

We proceeded to walk through the big pasture and trot up to the treed lot with no problems.  We got through all the gates and then made it to the long, hilly strip heading into the 'salad bowl.'  Again, Laredo was looking around a lot.  We had never been over here, so it was understandable.  We just kept working on some lateral and vertical softening, and he was great.

 

When we got to the salad bowl we also got to work.  We want to spend longer rides moving out, especially with Laredo.  So we hung out in the area trotting up and down the length of the field and walking up and down the steep hills.  He was getting more and more fatigued with each pass, but he also continued to listen to me.  Each time we'd take a break I'd have him back up or ask him to move his feet, he was always soft and attentive.

In the end we threw in a few lopes up a hill and down a long straight away.  He was smooth and relaxed, and also extremely tired at this point.  But it was a very successful outing.

On the way back he was struggling to keep up with Steen's rather relaxed walk, so we worked on speeding up and getting some collected trots in.  He was good for that, but he often wanted to hop into the trot on his own, so we also got to work on our downward transitions.  When we crested the last big hill near the barn, he saw home and let out the loudest, most pathetic whinny I've ever heard from him.  Poor guy was exhausted.

Picking our way through one of the softer spots.
And we still had to go back through two more pastures, but he was all right with that.  And in the end, I think he had a lot of fun.  He was falling asleep while munching on his chopped hay, and he was totally fine with me rubbing all over his ears.

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