Sunday, March 10, 2013

Warm and Loose

Again we trudged out to the pasture in a steady rain.  It continued to rain on and off through the night, and I was happy we put the blanket on yesterday.  I found him tucked up to the bale munching on some hay.  He seemed happy to see me, as he probably knew I was taking him indoors.  We walked by Laredo, who was also eating, to see how he was doing.  He is so young and not bothered by things like rain.  I was even surprised to see he had the driest face of all the horses.  He probably had it buried in the bale for most of the night.

While Bear's head and neck were soaked, the blanket did its job and kept his body completely dry.  It made grooming and tacking a whole lot faster.

We did a little groundwork to get started, and I could already tell he was moving well.  I climbed on and we proceeded to do our usual warming up of walking through various bends and working on collection and backing.  We did not have to do nearly as long a warm up as usual.

When we moved to the trot it was big and energetic, but also very controlled.  Robin said he was really reaching with his hind end, and I could feel it.  So often when he gets tight it is like his hind end is stuttering through at about 70 percent.  Not today.

We did a lot of work at the trot and lope and he felt great.  Another surprising thing was that he never once tried to pick up the lope unasked.  I think when he does that he is just uncomfortable and wants to move in a different way.  With no physical distractions he was happy to listen to my cues for the whole ride.

One specific thing we worked on was trot/lope/trot transitions.  Robin and I tried to stay exactly half a lap apart and proceeded to ride one lap at the trot and then one lap at the lope, on and on and on.  The guys started out full of energy, and I was working hard to keep Bear's trot a little slower so we wouldn't run up on Steen.  At one point we even had to turn a sharp circle, and we still didn't fall behind at all.

I definitely have a lot of work to do with the lope to trot transition.  I don't do it a whole lot, and when I do, I am not very specific about exactly where to come out of it.  Today's exercise might have been a little bit much to really focus on that as I was also worried about where we were in the arena, but this is definitely something I'll continue to do for a while.

We followed that up by working some figure-eights at the walk.  Again Robin and I spaced ourselves evenly through the patter, and when we hit the center we alternated who went first and who went second.  The idea was to work on varying our pace at the walk.  Bear was not super happy with the exercise.  He had to think pretty hard to get what I was asking him to do.  The upside is that we got some really nice energetic walks going.  Not every time I needed it, but we got it enough.  Again, something to build on.

I decided to leave the blanket on him another night.  I'm glad I did as it continued to rain for most of the day, and tonight it could shift over into snow.  I hope I don't have to leave it on much longer.  It is almost mid-March.  Either way, it is nice that we have the spare.  And I think next winter might be the year we start blanketing Bear all the time. 

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