Last week wrapped up with some exciting goings on for Steen. I rode again Thursday morning, outdoors with a saddle. It was a very crisp morning, and there was a good deal of activity around the barn. Steen, however, was perfectly well-behaved, jogging nice and slow on a loose rein the whole time. After our usual warm-ups I worked on the exercise that is supposed to help with his focus and his woah (choose a fence-post, trot to it, don’t let the horse turn so it has to stop in front of the fence-post). He didn’t really like that at all, but did seem to get more used to it after a little while. I think he’s feeling pretty content in his routine right now, which doesn’t demand much from him other than relax, hold a gait, and stop when I say. I’m feeling like we’re ready to go to the next level, so we’ll see how he does as I introduce some more complicated ideas.
However, I didn’t push it on Thursday since I knew two things. One, Brian’s parents were coming out to ride the next two days, and two, Steen’s teeth were getting done Monday. I didn’t have any real reason to think the bit was causing Steen discomfort, but I figured any chance that it was would be gone the next time I had the opportunity for a serious ride, so why not just wait?
So on Friday, Cathy, Dutch, Brian and I headed for the barn in the afternoon. Cathy has been taking riding lessons, and was keen to get some experience with a different horse. I did my best to prepare her for all the ways Steen was going to be very different from her 22 yr/old lesson-horse, and after all my warnings and careful instructions, Steen behaved like an angel. In the tack-up area, he remained totally calm and very friendly, even with four people at very close quarters, all variously involved in the tacking process. He let them both pick up his feet (even though he has challenged new people with that before), and never once behaved like the nervous, snorty horse he’s gained his reputation for at the stable.
In the indoor arena, he was even better. He stood quietly, at times practically dozing, while I talked to Cathy about different aspects of riding, and when she rode, he was so relaxed and good I could hardly believe it. The only real adjustment for her was that he picks up his trot so easily. Several times she accidentally bumped him with her foot or made a clicking sound, and Steen quite willingly stepped into his jog when she wasn’t ready. Once she got better at thinking about her heels and her noises, however, this problem went away.
Cathy rode for a while on Friday, and then both Dutch and Cathy rode Saturday. They had a very positive experience, and I think all the commotion was quite good for Steen.
Yesterday, suffice it to say I was at the barn until nearly 10 pm, but Steen and nine other horses got their teeth floated.
Today, Brian is going to the barn for his first solo ride while I attend to my chores at the other barn. I have no doubt things will go well for him. And on Wednesday, I can get back to riding, myself.