Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lots of Riding

Well, it's been lots of riding for January, at least.  The less than ideal weather has been so less than ideal that I've gotten out a few extra times to check on everyone.  And when I'm out there, why not go for a short ride?

I am also giving a lesson every Friday, so that gets me out to the barn even though sometimes I am tired at the end of the week.  And giving lessons is hard.  I have to think through all the things I do, then figure out how to explain them.  And invariably I get something wrong and have to think harder about what I'm actually doing, and come up with another way to explain it.  But I'm lucky in that I have a really great student who is eager to learn, patient, and a fabulous listener.  We've had four lessons, and she has made wonderful progress in each one.  She's been riding Steen, and they have been getting along great.  I'm excited to see how things progress in the future.

I've been riding Zoey a lot.  Nearly half of my ride time this year is on her.  She continues to come along really well.  We are spending more time on the lope, but it is tricky for us.  I'm pretty big on her, and it is really taxing for her to lope in the deep sand of the arena.  She's not a particularly balanced loper even without a rider, so I have to be extra aware of my body position and even work to help her out when I can.  We have been making some great progress, though.

We did have one little hiccup this past week.  Robin had a really great ride on her last weekend, and then when I rode her the next day, she was extra jumpy, not excited about the saddle or cinch, and generally a little spacey.  Yesterday it was more of the same, including some kick outs and hops when we were trotting around.  My best guess is she is in heat.  I've never worked consistently with a mare before, and in the summer and fall she was just so jumpy all the time that her heat cycles didn't really stand out.  So the last few rides I just worked on riding through things and being firm but fair.  She ended up really coming down and relaxing towards the end of the ride.  So hopefully that is all it is.

Working on some simple figure eights with 90% seat and 10% hands.
I've been having some exceptionally good rides on Bear lately, and I couldn't be more happy.  Late last year I was having regular thoughts about the possibility of needing to send him on to a retirement home.  We've got a therapeutic riding school nearby that takes solid, older geldings, and we think Bear would fit right in.  He had a rough fall, and he has overall been having a difficult time keeping up with our riding.  It didn't seem fair for me to keep asking him to do things that he wasn't quite capable of doing.

We ended up having his bloodwork done in November, and the vet said he was partially anemic again.  So we got him on a rather strong supplement.  I also got my nice new saddle about the same time.  The tree is a really nice Rod Nikkel, and the bars are angled in between regular quarter horse and full quarter horse.  It sits on his back perfectly, and he has not had any tight spots or knots back there.

Now, after nearly two months on the supplement, he's starting to act like the old frisky Bear I knew a couple years ago.  He still loves standing and hanging around, but if I start to ask him to go, he'd rather give me a nice, energetic lope than anything else.  He's also perkier overall, and much softer to the hackamore.

One of the big things that has been suffering for us is backing up.  I think it was just bothering his back, but now he is backing with energy again.  Part of the problem was definitely me, as I'm sure I started asking for it differently when I noticed he was struggling.  Robin saw how nicely we were backing up today, and she pointed out how I could stay soft but ask just a teeny bit more from him.  I changed my release just a little, and sure enough he got softer and gave me even more energy.


I know with an older horse you never know how things are going to go.  But I'm just happy that we're both having fun together again. 

Looking younger and in great shape again.

3 comments:

  1. Out of curiosity why do you think you will never know what you'll get with an older horse?

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  2. I suppose I cannot say for sure with all older horses. But with the few I've worked with, and with Bear in particular, on any given day I do not know if I will get a soft, energetic, and open horse, or a horse who is tired, sore, or kinked up. Bear has an old back injury that he had when he came to us. And it seems to come and go. When it bothers him, I try to have a ride that focuses on limbering him up and setting us up to have a fun, more energetic ride the next time.

    In this instance, I would say it is no different than with people. If I have a hard workout on the calendar but I'm not up for it, I'm better off changing it or pushing it back a day. I know my dad and some of my older friends have to be even more cognizant of this than I do.

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