Robin is visiting her family in Arizona, so having nothing to do with myself in her absence I decided to spend most of the day at the barn riding all three horses. It was a breezy and cloudy day, and all the rides went quite well.
I decided to start with Steen. He is the softest, and most sensitive, and also I have the least amount of riding time with him now. Funny to think that, it didn’t used to be that way. For a while Steen was the only horse I rode.
He seemed happy to hang out with me. He was soft and responsive and not at all bothered by things. We spent a ton of time riding in circles. First at the walk and later at the trot. I don’t think this was super fun for him, but it was great for me. As I said, Steen is really sensitive. So in our circles I was able to concentrate on the pressure from my legs, hips, hands, torso position and a whole bunch of other things. If I made a change, he responded. I think this put me in a great place for riding the other guys.
After our solo-ride on Tuesday, I felt really comfortable working with Laredo again. We started with some more intense groundwork, just like last time, and he was much more responsive despite having his 3 year old buddy Tate working on the strip, too. So we didn’t spend nearly as much time on it.
Under saddle he continues to get more and more responsive to legs. We spent many minutes zig zagging around the strip with only tiny adjustments from the reins. It feels great to be able to do that with him so soon. Steering was not one of his better qualities when we first got him, so we are definitely making progress.
Also like our last ride, we spent a lot of time at the trot. We trotted in big ovals, we trotted in smaller ovals, we used markers for upward and downward transitions, and I continued to use the tactic of turning a small circle to the inside when he got distracted or overly forward. This made for a rather demanding ride. For Laredo, I actually felt great. I was surprised at how relaxed I felt and how quickly I was able to assess what was working/not working and move into a good exercise for us.
While I was riding Laredo, I would occasionally see Bear way off in the distance watching us. He had received pets from me in the pasture twice already today, so he was definitely curious about what I was up to and seemed happy when I finally went to get him.
On the strip he started out really sluggish with the groundwork. We moved into the walking exercise with quick directional changes every 180 degrees (I have no idea what to call this). This woke him up instantly. Not only was he watching me closely, but he was putting energy into all his movements and I never had to ask him for anything twice. It was by far the best we’ve ever done with this exercise.
I went back to the groundwork we were doing before, and it was great. So I hopped on. Bear felt lively and energetic. He also felt very much like my horse. It was an interesting progression today. Steen does not feel very familiar to me under saddle, but Laredo felt surprisingly familiar. He had nothing on Bear, though.
So we started working through our normal warm up. He was great with the no-handed steering and happy to move into the trot. But very quickly things went downhill. He was jerky and erratic at the trot (despite me still being able to steer him rather well, it was odd), and he was constantly swishing his tail and shaking his skin as if to get rid of a fly. At one point he even gave me a few humped up hops. Very un-Bear-like.
I hopped off and ran my hands all over him, checked his back and the under part of the pad and everything seemed fine. So I got back on and started slow. We did flexes and worked on keeping them soft and holding them for a while, then smooth and easy one-rein stops, short serpentines, various sized circles and figure-eights at the walk and trot, and lots of walking out in between.
He did get better over time. I even ended up loping him up and down the strip and then worked him for a few short minutes in circles both to the left and the right. He was good for those. Quite good, really.
It almost seems like poor Bear has a somewhat sore back again. It has been so long since we’ve had a ride like this. He did just have almost a week off, and there are more flies out there. Perhaps he is stamping a lot? Or maybe he’s been getting frisky with the young horses? It is impossible to know, but I think our ride turned out OK. He was still happy at the end, and he was in no hurry to walk away from me in the pasture.
Sorry for the long post and no pictures; it’s tough to get shots when it is just you. Also, riding three horses in a row is rather tiring. I thought I would be more mentally fatigued while riding, but that didn’t happen until I was completely done. Then I felt exhausted everywhere. Still, I would do it again.