Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Steady Laredo

Robin and I were both tired heading out to the barn.  It was a cool and cloudy day; I'm sure that wasn't helping.

We did feel better once we got out there and grabbed our horses.  It is funny how steady and even Laredo feels after working with Zoey.  Not only have we known him so long (over a year, and a quarter of his life at that), but he's really filling out and just carrying himself nicely.

While Robin was taking her time saddling Zoey and getting the bridling done right, I decided to up things a little with Laredo and grabbed the rope.  My skills with the thing are still atrocious, but I have to learn somehow.  I started by playing around with it on the ground.  I focused on keeping my coil organized as I learned from the Martin Black clinic.  I also worked to get Laredo used to the rope and moving off the rope.  He was quite good at the first part and a little stuck with the second.  Typical Laredo.  But once I upped my energy and swatted him on the shoulder, he started moving off and respecting the rope.  But as soon as I hung out and rubbed him with it, he cocked a hip and relaxed.

I climbed on and we spent a few minutes riding around with me touching his neck and rump.  No problems.  So I built a messy loop and started swirling it around.

He was pretty fine with it.  His ears came up and he was paying a lot of attention, but he didn't mind it at all.  When I finally got the loop thrown out, he wanted to go inspect it.  I suppose that is a good initial thought.  But I had him stay and gathered the rope up myself.

And that was about it.  I didn't want to push things too much as I know a bad roper plus an inexperienced roping horse is a recipe for disaster.  So we spent the rest of the ride alternately watching Robin and working on some small movements and then moving out at the trot and lope.

He was really good with all of it.  Our loping was extremely smooth, and he gave me some of the best lope-trot transitions we've ever had.

Our only issue came towards the end of the ride.  I was occasionally asking for some more energy and getting a nice, big, posting trot going.  We could do this to the right no problem, but going left he was stiff and forward.  I kept going in both directions and couldn't figure it out.

Finally I had Robin watch and she said he was looking slightly anxious and prepared.  Almost as if he was expecting me to ask for the lope.  Funny.  We'd been moving in and out of it a lot, but he never seemed anxious about it.

And then it hit me.  Left shoulder.  I've been great about keeping it open and back at the walk and trot, but when things got fast I started to slump forward.  This was throwing my weight forward and starting to mimic the change in my body when I ask for the lope.  Going right it wasn't a problem.

From earlier in the ride, you can see my left shoulder forward and stiff, and I'm trying to fix things with the inside rein when I should just sit back and relax.
Going slower, but still, same problem.  Left shoulder slightly forward and I'm trying to fix it with my inside rein.
So I worked at exaggerating my posture to keep that shoulder up and back, and Laredo went into a nice bend almost immediately.  It is so cool to get feedback like that.  Yet another example of it always being the rider.  Sorry Laredo, but thanks for letting me work through things.  It's also nice that he's solid and steady enough to handle these things.

At the end, sitting back and relaxed, loose reins, and Laredo is balanced, bending, and happy.

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