Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hard to Title with Two Very Different Rides

We got out to the barn early on Saturday knowing we would work with a lot of horses.  We were each going to ride two, and on top of that Robin would be working with a 2 year old.

It was my day to work with Zoey, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that she wanted to work with me, too.  There were no catching issues.  She didn't come to me, but she didn't go anywhere, either.  Pretty good progress in just a few days.

We worked in our 'outdoor arena.'  It was the first time either of us worked with Zoey outside.  She was good, but definitely a little extra distracted.  Thankfully this was somewhat offset by her extra relaxation.  This was by far the most relaxed she has been in our presence yet.

The saddling took a few extra minutes today.  It was windy, and Robin was also having a pretty intense groundwork session with the 2 year old.  Eventually I got Zoey all ready to go, but then she wasn't too keen on my stepping up.  She kept stepping off.  I would move her over and back her up, then adjust my reins and work to get on.  She must have stepped of close to 10 times, and I definitely got a little frustrated with her, but I just kept asking her to move and then trying to set it up again.  Robin was getting on Steen at this point, and she suggested I continue with asking her to move, but lighten up just a little bit and also work to get her steps even and rhythmic.  I had to do it three or four more times, but then all of a sudden it just worked.

And she was just fine.  Super relaxed.  So funny how one little thing can get to them, but then once you're through that, things are fine.  Of course other things will (and did) come up, but nothing major.  I was happy with how relaxed she felt outside.  There was definitely a little more energy, but nothing outrageous.  We did a lot of circles and serpentines and spent some time on a set of 10.  We had to split that up into two sessions as our stops were deteriorating.  Backing improved, though.

We spent more time trotting circles and figure eights.  She felt much more balanced and relaxed than last time.  There were a few spots in the circle she wanted to bulge out towards, but I worked to gently block her and get her where I wanted.  I was erring on the side of blocking too light.  Same with when she'd drop the trot.  I would just encourage her to pick it back up and not worry if it took four or five strides.  I would never have given Bear or Laredo a pass like that, but it is funny when you don't really know the horse yet.  Also, she is much more sensitive and inclined to clam up than either Bear or Laredo.

And that was pretty much our ride.  She did fidget when I got off her.  Something about her left shoulder gets her bothered.  Multiple times in the ride it seemed like my left boot/stirrup freaked her out.  And then when I stepped off into that same space she didn't like it.  So I got back on.  That only took three times of setting it up.  But she stood, relaxed, and then stayed relaxed for the second dismounting.  A new horse sure gives you a lot of things to work on.

We had a quick snack and then I switched to Laredo.  The treed pasture was closed off, so we decided to take advantage of that and ride over there.  We used it quite a bit last summer, but I don't think we've ridden out there since maybe September or October.  And Laredo was excited about it.  He had a ton of energy.  But he was also moving off my legs nicely, so I wasn't too concerned.

In the beginning he gave me some big, gorgeous trots as we explored through the trees.  Then he started pushing out and offering to lope.  I didn't really want that yet, but thankfully a light bend in either direction would bring him right back to the trot.

When we had that working for us I picked a figure-eight-ish pattern in the open space and planned to lope half of it and trot the other half.  There were two giant weeds that served as our transition marker.  He picked the lope up each time really smoothly. 

About half way through the circle he'd accelerate a little, and then rounding the bend he started getting really forward.  About that time we'd transition to the trot, and these were pretty good.  So I kept rolling with it.  Always the great upward transition, then more speed, then loss of balance.  The last round we did was the same, and when we hit the transition area he was not at all interested in coming down to the trot.  He pushed against the bit a little and threw in a perfectly smooth flying lead change.  It was so nice I didn't even know he did it.  Robin was just laughing as she watched him do it.  I got the trot transition a few steps later, and then I figured we should maybe work on these same things but at a slower speed.  The lope was not doing us any favors.

To move down to the trot I normally pick up light pressure on the reins and move into a posting trot.  Laredo was not having it this time.
So we did a lot of trot/walk/trot transitions.  He wasn't very happy with these, either, but we kept going and things got better.  I realize I don't do those too much when we've got a lot of open space in front of us. Definitely something to work on, particularly since I'll want these smooth transitions at all gaits and no matter what surroundings we have.

He did get a little pissy later on.  We were trotting around the trees and he just wanted to lope again.  I blocked him and used my body to ask for the trot.  He threw his head down and hopped a few times before trotting.  Silly horse.  Over the last year he's really thrown in a lot of mini-bucks.  More than I thought he would. But he never gets anything out of them.  I just keep thinking he'll quit it.  Hopefully soon.  At least they help my seat, though.

By the end I was pretty darn tired.  Riding our two, least finished horses is pretty demanding.

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