My last few rides on Steen, he has an unbelievable amount of energy. The weather has been blech, and as a result the pasture is a combo swamp/ice rink. Whenever it gets really bad out there, we tend to turn the horses out in the indoor arena for a few minutes after we bring them in so they can roll and move freely before we make them work.
Steen loves this routine, and today after I unclipped his lead rope he was more than ready to get some playing in. He rolled, hopped up and started trotting around tossing his head, trying to get Laredo involved.
Laredo is still less familiar with the drill, and isn’t as sure what’s going on sometimes. Steen got him going through, and they had fun rearing at each other and racing around.
Laredo played with the ball for a bit. Steen got startled by Laredo with the ball and did a side-ways rear/buck/leap that looked like something a cat would do, not a horse.
When Steen is done, he just stops playing and comes straight to me. A couple other people were watching and thought it was so funny that he goes from spazzing all over the place to sauntering up to me, dropping his head, and waiting for me to put his lead rope back on.
During tacking and grooming though, Steen was still exuding a lot of restless energy. He was perfectly still, as usual, even though this time of year I tack him indoors where there is nowhere to tie, so he just stands with his rope over his neck. It was the kind of day that made me remember how he was a few years ago, when he would jitterbug all over the place at the slightest noise, and standing still was literally not something he did, ever. I was happy that he can now be in that kind of mood but still remember his manners.
I got him all tacked up and took him into the arena. I got on and he was soft and attentive but at the same time just so ready. I can’t quite describe how he felt. It was like he was eager to do whatever I asked, and if what I asked involved going fast, well that was even better.
I suppose a year or so ago this feeling would have made me nervous, but lately I feel like Steen and I have reached a new level of mutual understanding. I don’t know if it has something to do with coming back after his long convalescence, if it’s my new saddle, if it’s what I gain from riding Laredo and Steen both regularly, or just my general increase in being effective with the hackamore. Most likely it’s some of all of those things. But today when I asked for things and he responded with energy, instead of getting worried and afraid he was going to become too agitated, I just enjoyed it.
We worked on trotting, and varying speed and collection at the trot, shifting from moving out in a long trot to shortening up in a slow jog. We also worked on walk/canter transitions. Steen was hilarious about these. He got really into them. A lot of being successful with these is timing, so I would collect him a bit and get him ready, and feel for the hind foot he’d need to push off on. When that started to come forward, I’d release the tension on the reins and ask him for the canter.
He was putting a lot of enthusiasm into his response. Brian said later it was neat to watch because Steen would wait and wait for my cue, then he would really drop into the departure, digging in his haunches and rolling the speed up through his body to push off into the lead I was asking for. It was neat to feel too. It’s the sort of thing that reminds you how much strength there is in a horse.
One of Steen’s most redeeming qualities is the sense of accomplishment he gets when he knows he’s doing something right. He was having fun, I was having fun. So we cantered a lot, worked on a few short circles and simple lead changes, which were a little sloppy. But overall it was just a great ride.
Ride Time: 0:45
Horseback hours YTD: 7:15