We’ve had mucky weather and Saturday was so wet and chilly it just wasn’t worth a barn trip. I stayed home and wasted a ridiculous amount of time creating, raising and training a digital version of Steen instead of hanging out with my real horse. I guess turning 30 didn’t entirely break me of my compulsion to occasionally waste an entire day on computer games.
Today it was still muddy, but at least there was no more moisture falling from sky. Steen was quite dirty. Even through the bulk of him was protected by the blanket, his legs, belly, neck and head were so dirty it still took me quite a while to get him cleaned up. He was fidgety during grooming again. Nothing bad, just a little restless. He felt the same way after I mounted. He didn’t actually do anything, he just didn’t feel settled.
I started out walking a couple laps on the rail and as soon as we started moving he seemed to relax. We continued to work on getting a bit of collection at the walk. Steen is making a lot of improvement in this camp and it is quite exciting. Then we trotted some figure eights, then started an exercise Martin Black recommends, that involves going in a circle and stopping at the same point of the circle each lap, then backing a half-circle and going in the opposite direction. This is supposed to help a horse learn to stop on a dime, and Steen and I have done it at the trot a few times. The exercise, however, is supposed to be done with energy, so today I decided to try it at the lope.
We hadn’t loped in a few weeks, mostly due sub-par footing on the strip. I did the circuit and stopped at the trot a few times, just to give Steen a hint about what was coming, then asked for the lope. Our first lap was so discombobulated I had to go an extra circle just to prepare him for the stop, but he backed his half circle nicely and we want off again in the other direction.
My attempts at refining Steen’s lope have been highly intermittent, and I’d never done this sort of focused work with him before. The woman who owned him before I did never loped him at all, and so it is understandable that he has a tendency to sort of ease his way in and out of the gait. I’m ready for a little more precision now, though, and I was pleased to see how quickly this exercise started to have a positive impact. We worked on it twice, for maybe five minutes each time. Steen’s transitions both into and out of the lope improved noticeably, and each time I let him stop after a very nice stop and we moved to other work. He felt very relaxed and attentive.
So I’m pretty excited to have this to work on as the weather starts to confine us to the indoor arena more often. Steen was tired by the end of the day today, but he was also giving me more effort than usual in our stops from both the trot and the walk, so I’m excited to keep working on this.
Ride Time: 40:00
Horseback hours YTD: 97:45