Simple Lead Changes

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We had such success with our work at the lope yesterday I was keen to get back to that exercise today. Steen was in a good mood from the start. I think he is more comfortable without his blanket on. It has warmed up here and I’ve been able to leave it off the last couple of nights. They also have new bales and he’s put some of his lost weight back on, so even if he gets a little chilly for a few hours here and there, he should be fine.

Bear was in a funny mood today and Brian started out his ride pretty hard and demanding. Steen and I started with leg yields and whirlygigs, but I moved pretty quickly into our figure-eight exercise. After a few laps, Steen was paying a lot of attention, moving both into and out of the lope really well. So I changed my plan and started loping the entire figure-eight, with a simple lead change in the middle.

This is far more than I’ve ever asked of Steen at the lope, but he was loving it. Once or twice I couldn’t get him to bend well enough after bringing him down to the trot, and he’d get the wrong lead. The cool thing was, though, that I could feel when this was going to happen. I must admit that I’ve never been great at influencing my horse to pick up the correct lead, but today I started to feel like I knew how to set Steen up to get it right.

We did our figure-eights for a while, then went on to working on other stuff, then came back to the exercise. The highlight moment happened right near the end of the second session. We came to the center of our circle, and I collected Steen to get ready to bring him down to the trot, and instead of trotting he changed leads himself. It was the neatest feeling, and for a moment I thought we’d accidentally nailed our first flying lead change. Then we went around the circle and I realized he’d only changed his front lead, not his back. Then he stumbled on some uneven footing and I stopped him. But still, it was cool.

Almost as wonderful as the great loping, though, was Steen’s attitude after the lope. We went back to walking around quietly. None of his excitement carried past the appropriate moment. There was no braced-up motor trotting or attempts to pick up the trot from the walk.

After all our loping, Brian and I worked a bit on the routine. That went really well too, and I think we’ll start throwing some loping on the straightaways in before too long, which make it more challenging and more fun.

These last three rides have been so unbelievably fun and positive, and we’ve got a week of good weather on the horizon.

After the ride we put our guys back in the pasture and they promptly reclaimed their bale. I guess they worked up an appetite with all that running.

Ride Time: 1:00
Horseback hours YTD: 13:20

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