Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One Year Later

We've now had Laredo for exactly one year. At times it has been rough, but it has also been extremely educational.   

In that time we've gotten over the ear issue, had a few bucks and runaways, taught him how to lope some circles, and become close enough that he will sometimes run to us in the pastures.  He has helped me become more patient (still got a ways to go on that one), understand serpentines better, feel what it really means for your horse to lean on your hands, and highlighted exactly how much my seat and legs can get in a horse's way. 

Today we overall had a great ride.  And all the things we did, we could not have done a year ago.  It wasn't a particularly special or fantastic ride, just a good ride to keep us moving on with our training.

We focused on moving out at the trot and then slowing down and relaxing in the trot.  Laredo is getting more sensitive to how our seat dictates speed.  He will sometimes get that feeling like he wants to run somewhere real fast, but lately he has just been coming right back to us before that happens.  A couple weeks ago I had to bend him pretty hard if he felt like he was going to take off, now I can just sit a little differently, or pick up a soft feel, or if really necessary, pick up one rein and ask for a slight bend. 

It was in some of those gradual bends going up and down the strip that I noticed a problem in my seat.  Overall we were getting some great turns at the trot today, but occasionally going to the right I would get Laredo into this frame where it felt like he was yielding his head, neck, and hindquarters very softly, but his shoulder was just bulging through.  It made no sense considering how well he was listening.  So I really concentrated on what I was doing, and sure enough, my outside leg was coming off him a little bit in that turn.  So he was finding a small space, that I was unknowingly opening, and trying to stay in it.  That's extremely good stuff.  And when I was able to close that door slightly, he stopped doing that.  No big deal.  Another moment of it always being the rider.

We spent a few minutes working on our lope, too.  He was happy to move into it and gave me a real smooth and relaxed lope.  There were a few spots in our turns where he'd get stuck and come out of it.  It's possible these are somewhat related to the above problem, but at this time I was aware of that and I was going into the turns as set up as I possibly knew how to be.  After many circles we were able to hold the even pace all the way through, both directions.  But even when we got stuck in the turns, I could just pick up the inside rein and he'd follow that feel right out of the turn.  He's always been soft laterally, but since we started working hard to get him to stop leaning on us (as slight as it was sometimes) we've seen some drastic improvement.

It was a hot day, so we didn't ride too long.  They were tired and sweaty by the end, and he was totally loving the neck rubs.

It took a little while to really get comfortable with him, but now it is even kind of hard to remember those first rides.

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