Saturday, March 9, 2013

Some Challenging Groundwork

Whoops.  Looks like I missed last weekend's rides.  It is getting a little tough staying on top of the blogging as we still don't have a great rhythm going for 2013.  I do know I rode Laredo and I rode Bear.  Again inside.  We did a lot of walking, troting, and loping and everything was pretty fun.

Today we got to the barn to find the guys sopping wet.  It had rained through most of the night.  The pasture was still mostly covered in snow and ice, but now there were standing puddles of water on top of that.  Gross.

Steen ran right up to Robin as he was uncomfortable, and Laredo looked at me but decided to go to Robin, too.  Not ideal, so I moved him around some (and splashed through quite a few ice puddles) to get him to come to me.

Because they were so wet, we really didn't want to let them roll around in the sand.  It is really tough to get the sand out of their soaking wet coats before saddling them.  So we just brought them in, toweled them off as best we could, and then proceeded to tack them up.

Everything about getting ready was great.  Laredo was happy to be rubbed down, and getting the hackamore on him was not much trouble at all.  He was willing to follow me in the arena and get to work, but once I asked him for some simple circle work on the ground, he got a little agitated. 

Always working on the ears and bridling with Laredo.  Things have come a long way, but we've still got more to do.
I'm not sure if he was just frisky or if his saddle was bothering his wet back a little or what.  But he was inclined to run around and not listen much. I just stuck with him, asked for a lot of direction changes, and found good spots to pause and give him pets.  He was always happy to stand, and he never appeared agitated when he wasn't moving.  I figured he would be just fine to climb on, but I thought it would be better practice for both of us if I kept working him until he could do the moves in a relaxed and attentive manner.

Since I was pushing him a bit, he continued to get a little riled up.  At one point he got stuck when I was asking for a back up.  I kept coming at him and working to move him off.  Instead of going back he rolled back on his haunches and gave a half hearted strike with both front feet.  He was nowhere close to hitting me, nor do I think he wanted to, but I was not pleased with this behavior.  So I really got after him and asked for some serious hustle and attention.  When he went by me the first time he popped his butt up and kicked out at me.  Again, not really close or trying to get me, but definitely not cool.

At this point he realized he had made a mistake.  I was moving him all over the arena, and when he wasn't listening I would quarter him in a not very gentle manner.  His attitude changed real fast.  He was all eyes and ears on me, and he would move off at the exact pace I wanted.  For a little while we worked fast, and when he was doing really well we took a short break.  Then we returned to what I had been looking for the whole time, just walking a nice circle around me.  He gave it to me with no problems.

This whole ordeal took about 20 minutes, but it was time very well spent.  I climbed on and he continued to be extra attentive.  He moved off my legs with very little pressure, and when we were working on trotting some tight figure-eights, he was engaging his haunches more than I've ever felt.

Over all we had a really great ride, though I did make one mistake.  Once we were going, I was just happy to ride how we normally ride.  But after the difficult groundwork, Laredo was not really ready to focus for a long time.  After about half an hour, he was getting pretty checked out.  I was still going along with our normal stuff, but I wasn't getting anything done.

The groundwork and beginning of our ride were so effective that I should have found an excellent place to stop and hopped off him.  I know I didn't do any kind of damage by continuing the ride; he's not that delicate.  But he is still young enough that it would have been a little better if I quit when we were still doing well.  As it was I got a few good things to end the ride on, but we just had to go through a whole lot of not-so-great to get there.

When we put the guys back out we gave Bear his vitamins.  It was raining and the wind was blowing, and we were surprised to see he was shaking a little bit.  Not normal for Big Bear.  As it was supposed to be cold and rainy for the entire weekend, we decided to bring him in, dry him off a little, and put our spare blanket on him.

Such a cutie.  Hopefully it helps keep him comfortable through the night.  He did seem relieved as soon as I threw it over him.

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