Short, Short Serpentines

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This was my second ride on Laredo.  Like Robin over the weekend, we rode in the outdoor arena.  He felt a little keyed up in the beginning, but as we’ve come to get used to, he really comes right back to being settled so fast.  This is really great, because often when we’re working on things we will go from quick, easy responses to me having to ask pretty hard.  This always gets a bigger response from him, but then he settles.  For instance, when doing groundwork he is awesome with flexing and backing and even pretty good when I ask him to back in a half circle, but then when I ask him to go around me in a circle, I have to apply a lot more pressure.  But once he leaps out and trots a step or two, he comes back to a walk and looks to me for other things.  And our circles did get better with each one.

He also calms down quickly under saddle.  I climbed on with no problems.  We stood for a bit, then went through some flexes (much improved over my last ride), and then started walking off to work on our bends.  Something must have bugged him, because then he went into some quick starts and hops.  For second I thought I was going to be riding through some bucks, but I just steadily but firmly pulled his head to the side and sat deep.  He came right down, and then it was like nothing had happened.  I guess that is young horses for you.

So we proceeded to work on serpentines, just like our last ride.  And just like last time, he was stiff and braced up, particularly going left.  During the ride I realized I was not actually asking for enough of a bend.  In my efforts to be gentle, I would ask for the bend and give him the release when I got a change.  So often we weren’t getting much of a bend going and that meant we really weren’t affecting that brace at all.  I thought to all the videos and examples of short serpentines I’ve seen, and then I changed my approach and worked to bend his head around 90 degrees, get the hind and front end working evenly, AND feel the softness come from the poll through his body.

Early in the ride before I really shortend up our serpentines

Yeah, a lot of things.  And we weren’t always getting it.  At times I knew we were both frustrated.  It was a rather sunny and hot day; I was tired, hungry, and thirsty, and I’m sure this was affecting my riding despite my best efforts to not let it.

Overall, though, we did get some nice bends in there. I was left wishing for more, but I also don’t want to get greedy, so I kept reminding myself to be happy with what we got.  And there were certainly things to celebrate.  He was backing up wonderfully, and I also think I was doing a good job asking for that.  He also felt softer to the bit in general, just not when his feet were in motion.  I’m sure that will come with time.

On the way home Robin and I were talking about how good trainers can get so far with their horses in just a short number of rides.  We’ve now seen a few instances where horses with 10 to 20 rides on them are truly unbelievable.  I guess it comes down to them knowing exactly what they want, releasing when they get it, and also knowing exactly how much pressure they can apply when they aren’t getting it.

Right now I’ve got a pretty good idea what I want, my release is not always perfect but it does come, and I don’t have much of a gauge at all for how much pressure I could use when I need to get the job done.  So in short, I’m going to make a lot of mistakes. But at least I feel like I’ve learned a lot already.  And like Bear, Laredo has proven to be a very forgiving horse.

Still curious and happy to hang out after a longer ride than he’s used to.
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