Just The Bear and I

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Robin has been extremely busy with work this year, and that has cut down on some of our mid-week rides.  But today I felt determined to get out there.  Robin stayed home to work, so it was just Bear and I.

We also had the barn to ourselves for most of the afternoon.  So I brought him in and let him loose to roll and play.  The guys love doing this when they come in from the frozen pasture, so I was curious what Bear would do on his own.  He ended up rolling three times (one or twice is his norm).  Then he jumped up, kicked out, threw his head around and trotted right up to me.  I gave him a few pets and started walking around.  He was keen on following me, so I started running a little and playing a little chase.  He’d cut hard and then run away, then I’d run away and he would come after me.  Then I went after him again and he turn on the gas loping some hard circles around me.  I stopped and turned away from him and he just slowed down and came right up to me.  We had never practiced any of this stuff, so it was neat to see how he responded.

When I climbed on he was very attentive.  I forget how much having another horse in the arena affects them.  He basically just had me to pay attention to.  I was also happy to see how good he was feeling.  Much looser than the past couple of weeks.  Perhaps it is the slightly more regular exercise, or maybe it is just that we have been getting him more senior vitamins, but it is nice to see.  Today we only did about ten minutes of warming up before he felt ready to go.

We went through a few laps at the lope in each direction.  After that we took advantage of the empty arena to work on simple lead changes.  These are tough on me and on Bear, so instead of figur-eighting the whole time and changing each half lap, I would cut across the arena for our change and then do a full lap and a half on the new lead before cutting back to the middle for another change.

This gave us a lot of time to settle in and get ready.  I still need quite a few steps in the trot before we’re ready to move off into the lope again, but we improved each time we did it.  Bear was definitely anticipating me, and he was always happy when he got it right.  When he didn’t he would dip his head, shake it hard, and then move off into the correct lead.  It almost seemed like he was made at me or himself, or maybe both.

We did not spend much time trotting today, and perhaps that was also a part of why Bear was feeling so good.  We would go through a few sessions of the simple lead changes, and then work on walking around without the reins or pivoting on individual feet.  Then we’d get back to some more loping.

We also worked a little on getting the lope from the walk (I almost always move into it from the trot).  We had a couple of so-so upward transitions, and then I realized I wasn’t softly collecting him.  So I picked up the reins, shaped up my legs, and then asked him to move out.  He took off like a rocket.  It was the fastest I’d felt a horse move in the arena.  His head was up and he was kind of looking around.  It wasn’t until we made the turn at the other end of the arena that I saw all the barn dogs down there kicking it up.  They had recently been let out by the barn owner, but I wasn’t paying much attention to them.  It turns out they came bursting through the arena gate right when I asked Bear for the lope.  So funny.

I always forget how fun it can be to hang out with just Bear and no one else.  I will definitely have to make this a more regular occurance.

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