The good news was that Bear was moving in a very smooth and relaxed manner under saddle. Both directions. There was not a hint of tightness in either side, and if anything, he was turning better to the right today than he was to the left.
The bad was pretty much everything else. There was a new horse introduced to the pasture herd last night, a very cute little buckskin Quarter Horse named Cowboy. Apparently he and Bear got into a little scuffle. Neither horse took it super seriously as they kept the wire fence between them (they didn’t have to), but that led to many additional scrapes and cuts. I don’t think either horse was any worse for the wear, but it definitely left Bear a little riled (but I kinda think he won).
And he is losing weight. This is actually a good thing, too. He is looking fantastic. Better than I’ve ever seen him look (except for the last, long winter hairs that are hanging on and fading to orange). But I think the lack of food in the new pastures is making him a little antsy and distracted.
He was not bad today, but he was so persistent about not paying attention to me that it was kind of driving me crazy. During our grooming I did some rather serious groundwork with him a couple of times (and Robin did, too). This would help, but it wouldn’t really last. He’d go back to moving around, bumping into me with his hindquarters, and pushing me with his head.
Finally we got everyone tacked up and went into the outdoor arena. Steen was amazing through all this, but Bear just kept being a butthead. After a little battle about grazing, I finally mounted. At first he was rather riled up (for Bear), he wouldn’t stand or back or neck rein very well. So we just went right into trotting figure-eights in hopes that it would give him something to think about.
It took awhile, but he did settle down and start cruising around on a looser rein. The arena was still damp, though, so we moved to the strip after we got things under control. On the strip it was like we had to start all over again. The grazing problem came back, as did the lack of standing or paying attention to me. The wind had also picked up, and with the way he was jerking around I had visions of him running off into the fields again.
I decided to keep everything tight and compact. He was moving so well that I knew we could work in really tight circles and figure-eights. So we did that for another 20 minutes or so. He did get calmer and start paying more attention to me, but it was never great. The wind was continuing to howl out of the south and one of the mares was in a bit of a mood, and neither of these things helped.
Thankfully I felt quite good in the saddle. I just kept working on leaning back into my tall cantle and not leaning too far into the turns but instead staying upright and keeping a little extra weight on my outside leg. All this was good for me to think about, and Bear’s erratic pace and super tight turns made it more important for me to concentrate. I even feel a little fatigue in my legs. That generally doesn’t happen after a ride.
Even after the ride he was not inclined to stand or pay attention. But we did get an OK side shot of him. We’ve seen Bear muscle up nicely in the past, but we’ve never seen his belly this small. We’ll have to get a head on shot soon, as that really shows the lack of protrusion from the sides.