Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bringing Back the Rope

It was another gorgeous day, and we decided to just head straight outside for the strip.  Since I have been doing a lot of work on Bear with the flag, I decided to take the rope back out and see how we could do with that.  When we used it a little last summer, he was pretty wary around it.  Particularly if I was recoiling the excess rope on his right side.

So today we started working with it on the ground.  Right away I could sense he was better with it.  Still pretty uncertain, but nothing like before.  I patted him all around with the coils and threw a few lopes near him and over him.

When we got to the point where he wasn't dancing around any more I climbed on.  We spent quite a few minutes riding around with me holding the rope in my right hand.  I'd just bang it against my leg or rub him on the neck and rump.  He'd increase his pace sometimes, but overall he was good.

We moved into trotting various patterns and figure-eights with me still desensitizing him to the rope.  This was the best part as he really settled into things nicely.  I think he finally figured out he could just relax and the rope wasn't going to bother him.  I threw a few really awkward loops off his back from the walk and trot, and that went pretty well.  He was not bothered at all when I gathered the rope back up on his right side.  An excellent sign.

From there I hopped off and looped the rope around an old fence post.  I climbed back on and we worked on pulling the post going backwards and sideways.  I'd also walk around it and work on positioning Bear right where I wanted him as if we had a cow.  He was not thrilled with this, and he didn't love facing the post, so I got a lot more practice in on blocking him with my legs and immediately shifting over to being supportive. 

We never pulled the post behind us.  Neither Bear nor I felt ready for that.  Dealing with the rope and reins and weight on the rope was a lot tougher than I thought it would be.  It is not natural for me to dally the rope around the horn and ride off.  But at least we'll have some fun things to work on.

Finally I put the rope away and we proceeded to have a more regular ride.  I think Bear was happy with this, because he was really good.  He gave me the nicest circles at the lope I've ever felt outside.  They were shockingly smooth and easy.  This is one of the things I've struggled with off and on and felt like we should have down.  It is nice to see they might be coming around.

We also spent a few minutes trotting and loping off by ourselves down the drainage.  Again, Bear was great.  It's so fun to be riding around outside with him again.

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