Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Checking Things Out

Today would be my day to ride Laredo, but most of the day I kept thinking I owed Bear a soft, easy ride to see if we could find what was bothering him.  Robin suggested I just do both.  So I did.  I groomed them both up, tacked Bear and put Laredo in the big side pen near the arena.  He was quite curious to just check out the new space.

I hopped on Bear and he was OK.  He was happy to see me when I pulled him out of the pasture, and he seemed to be walking out nice.  He was still stiff, particularly going to the left.  We worked on that for a little while and then checked out the trot.  Not great, but better than yesterday.  I thought we should check out the lope briefly.  He moved into it really nicely, but there was one stretch along the field that he did not want to stay on.  He would cut hard to the right and go for the fence.  I had to work pretty hard to keep him from doing this, and it made for a rough ride.  I was not always successful, either.  Going the other way we didn't have that problem, but there was a particularly sticky spot where he wouldn't bend to head back in the other direction.  Robin said it looked like he would make the turn on his forelegs, swiveling his hind end over with each step.  I guess that is what it felt like.

We stopped there, as I really didn't want to keep going with things that were not working.  I was happy he was overall a little better at the walk and trot, but loping was not good.  Robin and I talked about it for a while, and we came to the conclusion it could be from my riding.  When his lope gets big and rough (mostly when he wants to go somewhere other than where I want to go) I don't ride as well.  I tend to slide around a lot more and my butt can slam into the saddle quite often.  This was actually happening a lot last Friday when we rode in the middle pasture.  We were loping a big trapezoidal pattern, and there were a few spots where Bear was pushing out and I had to really use my legs to keep him where I wanted him.  As a result, I was popping up and slamming down on his back from time to time.

We're not a hundred percent sure this is the problem, but from where we're at now it seems the likeliest culprit.  I'll have to give him some time off, and when we do ride I will probably have to stay out of the lope until we've got everything working well for us again.  It is a bummer.  I certainly don't want to hurt my horse, but I also need to work on riding rougher lopes and keeping us going where I want, and that will be hard to practice without doing it.  I know the greats say you can get a lot done at the walk, so I'll just have to see what I can come up with there that will help us out with our faster problems.

At this point, Laredo was running and bucking up a storm in the side pen.  Guess he was done being curious about the space.  I went and put Bear in the pen and grabbed the kid.  I sprinted right up to me, but then he immediately calmed down.  I even pushed things a bit by bridling him in the pen rather than our normal spot.  He was great.

He did require a little more groundwork, though.  Guess some of the spiritedness was still there. Once I hopped on he was great, though.  He got a little distracted by some farm machinery driving around in the distance, but I never felt him want to leave me.  When we were trotting he was really listening, so our last ride made a good impression on him.

He was super soft with his backing, circles, and lateral movements today.
 We spent a large part of the ride working on bending in a nice teardrop shape and going off in the other direction.  This didn't go very well, because neither one of us are good at it.  Laredo tends to lose all his speed in the turns and/or fall onto his front end.  My problem is getting timed with the feet and going from too soft to too hard.  The turn is so short, I think it makes me rush things.

Over time we both got a little better, but it wasn't great.  We'll definitely have to keep doing that.  One nice thing is Laredo really didn't mind the drilling.  He really used to check out and get grouchy about that kind of stuff, but lately that has been less and less the case.  I guess he is just getting more mature and understanding the goals better.

He was also great when we started moving into the lope.  We got some nice big circles in both directions.  He was soft to the hackamore and happy to run.  We only had one moment where we got stuck in one of the plowed rows in the field.  He wouldn't come out of it and kept charging ahead faster.  I just had to pop him a little harder and we came right back into the strip.  Typical Laredo, he wasn't bothered by it at all.

We ended the ride by going to explore in the fields.  On the second strip we decided to move out at the trot.  Laredo was giving me a big but controlled trot, so we just went with it all the way down the strip and onto the new section of drainage that leads off the property.  We turned around and kept trotting for home with no problem.

Back on the second strip we decided to check out a new spot that was recently cleared.  It looks like a short road with a bunch of trees on one side and a big berm on the other that is much taller than our heads.  At this time also walked by the tiny little creek.  Laredo heard he noise and leaped to his right.  For some reason the sound of running water really got him going.  Steen was just fine, but I had to bend him a few times before I could encourage him to get closer to check it out.  Ultimately he was pretty curious about it, but he never fully relaxed near the stream.  Guess we'll have to work on that.

He stayed a little excited as we walked on and checked out the new area, but as soon as we rounded the bend and saw home, he slowed right down.  I swear he is the only horse who does not want to make a b-line for the barn.

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