Out of Shape Already?

Novels for Horse-Lovers

The Tipped Z Ranch books feature fictional stories but real horsemanship.

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I guess it has been a light month of riding.  With a visitor, a vacation, a new horse, and a 60th birthday party, Bear ended up getting quite a few days off.  That, coupled with thick, lush grass, meant Bear added quite a few pounds of fat and lost more than a few pounds of muscle.

So this week our rides were a little unexciting.  Both Monday and Wednesday we worked on the strip, and both of those rides were almost identical.  I am happy to report that the second ride was a little better than the first.  It is always nice when that happens.

I opted to keep the ride a little bit lighter in terms of mental difficulty, and a little bit harder in terms of physical difficulty.  Little being the key word there.  We spent most of each ride working in the trot.  We’d work on trotting nice circles, bigger ovals, and occasionally going up and down the fenceline.  Bear was definitely tired.  He wasn’t doing any of his normal antics like shying at the bean field or weaving down the strip.  I just don’t think he had the energy.

I was disappointed to find he was somewhat dull to the bit.  Two weeks ago we were getting back to some amazing softness, but I guess hitting our stride and then taking more time off is not the best way to make progress there.  Still, I was thrilled to see that he was extra soft to my legs.  When we would take a break from trotting I would ride around one handed (and often not even using that hand) and ask Bear to weave in and out of figure-eights and various sized circles.  It was pretty fun.

Each ride I also got in a little loping.  On Monday he was not happy about it at all.  When I asked he gave me quite a few head tosses and even what felt like a few hops and pivots off his hind feet.  I really didn’t know what was going on, but it didn’t feel too bad so I just made him lope.  Once we got going he was pretty good.  A little stiff down near the gate, but mostly he felt smooth and relaxed.  Wednesday he didn’t throw a fit at all when I asked for the lope, he just moved into it nice and smooth.  Both directions.  I was especially pleased with this on Wednesday as I was having some difficulty keeping him back on his haunches.  I almost didn’t even ask for the lope, as I have definitely learned than an unbalanced horse at the trot is not going to be good at all in the lope.  But I decided to at least give it a little try.  I was happy I did, as things felt nice.

Robin had a pretty good time getting Laredo going again.  It will be nice to get into a rhythm of riding him regularly.  I’m hoping it will also allow me to keep Bear in good shape but not over ride him.  Two weekends ago we rode three days in a row, and that has not been good for him for quite a while now.  So my new rule is no more than two Bear rides in a row.  Period.

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