Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Turning Things Around

As I've mentioned the last couple of weeks, I've been struggling with Laredo.  Getting him soft and lively and just having a good time have all been a little tough.  We normally start out doing fairly well, but then the ride goes downhill after 15 or 20 minutes.  Today was a little like that, but also a little different.

We started with the flag again. I'm getting more comfortable using it, and Laredo is understanding when to listen to it and when to just let it be.  He no longer thinks it is a toy.

Under saddle I tried to keep things moving.  So I would deliberately pick an exercise or two to roll through, and then we'd rest.  Often things come apart when we're just riding around and I'm trying to figure out what to do next.  Bear has no trouble with that, but Laredo needs a lot more guidance or he really, really checks out.

Even when we were taking our breaks we had things to work on.  I've introduced holding him in a flex and waiting for him to step over. 

He looks a little forward in this shot, but I think that is because he would often try to walk forward as one of his first guesses.  Funny guy, he's not a 'forward' type of horse, but in this position he wants to go forward?  He did start to get them, and he would step over nicely with legs and no hands and also with hands and no legs.

Another thing we constantly work on is backing.  It used to be something Laredo and I were pretty good at, but for some reason it has been awful lately.  Today it was again pretty bad.  I was frustrated and trying to get him off the hackamore and get more lively. What I was doing was working in the moment, but it wasn't really getting through to him.  Which probably means what I was doing wasn't really working.

Robin was trying to explain how it was all not working out for me, and I couldn't quite get it.  She'd do things on Steen, and I can't comprehend exactly how it works.  Bear is not as soft as Steen.  And in some ways he is not as soft as Laredo, either.  But overall he's softer.  So my calibration and understanding of softness and pressure has probably been steadily declining as I've been going back and forth between the two.

But then I kind of felt something.  I started to understand in greater depth when he was leaning and pushing against me and when he was just stuck.  It allowed me to more accurately apply force and patience.

This is when things really started to turn around.  Our backs got better, he was more willing to move out, and we ended up having a great ride.  We spent almost 90 minutes in the indoor arena, and I really had no idea we were riding that long.  I always think that is a sign of a good ride.  You think so hard when you're practically going nowhere that you have no time to get bored.

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