Back on the Kid

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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We’re definitely having a somewhat lackadaisical start the year in terms of riding. But the weather is never great in January, so we tend to figure we’ll get out there when we get out there and not worry too much about how often it is.

Today it was time to get Laredo going again. Ever since he had his slight shoulder injury in the fall, we’ve been riding him only lightly. But we now figure he’s had plenty of time to heal, and it’s time to get back to his training in earnest.

Bear also seems to do the best in the winter if he gets ridden pretty regularly (exercise helps keep him less fat and more limber) so we decided on the way to the barn I’d be the one to ride Laredo.

I tacked him up, and he was good, although getting the bridle on was a bit slower than it has been lately. He’s still not entirely over his ear issues, though they are nothing compared to what they used to be. There’s ice and snow and mud everywhere outside, so we were confined to the indoor. We have hardly ridden Laredo inside. The last time we did, Brian was on him and he got a bit grouchy about loping.

Ever since the Martin Black clinic I’ve been thinking a lot about Laredo’s laid back personality and how to keep him from becoming resentful of work. I started out the ride with a lot of flexing and yielding the hindquarters.  He had about a month off with our vacation, so I wanted to make sure he was soft.

Then we got going. I worked on moving him out a little bit at the time. When he was walking slowly, I’d ask for a bit more speed. If he picked up the pace, I’d immediately back off and give him some pets. We moved from working on extending the walk to moving into the trot. I kept the trots super short at first. I’d let him pick it up, go about one side of the arena, then stop him and give him a little break. Over the course of a few minutes, his trot departures got considerably more snappy and he had more energy in his trot.

From there we moved on up to loping. I did what I saw Martin do with the young horse in the clinic who had a tendency to kick out while loping. I moved him into the trot, asked him to leave the trot, and then stopped asking him for anything as soon as he loped. We had four great, short canters this way, each one more energetic than the one before, each with a decent breather after we stopped loping. We never loped more than about a quarter of the arena, but his transitions and energy were great and he never got bunched up or hoppy.

Then Brian and I worked on the routine. I worked on using my seat and legs and keeping my hands soft when I did have to use them. I was astonished at the energy Laredo was putting into his trot. We were out-trotting Bear at times.

We did the routine twice, then did a walk-trot exercise where we stayed half an arena apart. This went well too, and as the most physically demanding part of the ride. Laredo has a tendency to fall out of the trot to a dead stop, so we worked on trot to walk without getting stuck. Again, things went very well.

All in all, the ride went considerably better than I thought it would. It was one of those rides that left me thinking, “This is an awesome horse.”

After the ride, Laredo was happy and relaxed. He’s got such a shaggy, thick winter coat, he’s definitely not suffering from the cold. In fact he’s putting on just a bit of chunkiness around the middle.

My last ride on Steen, I tried to use the Strava app to track my ride, but it only recorded the first two minutes and the last two. This ride I tried a different app: Sports Tracker. While it did track the whole ride, I have serious doubts as to its accuracy. For instance it says we hit 18.8 mph, and if you look at the satellite scribble of my ride over a map, I seem to have gained a magical ability to pass through walls and fences.

I guess, at the very least, I know I rode for 45 minutes.

Steen was not very happy at being left in the pasture. He came to me the moment he saw us arrive, followed me around the pasture when I got Laredo, and came back to the gate when we put the other two away.

Ride Time: 0:45
Horseback hours YTD: 1.5

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