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Novels for Horse-Lovers

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Robin has been ill for almost a whole week.  We keep waking up thinking she’ll be feeling better, but nope.  Not so.  Today she really didn’t feel up to going to the barn, but she was happy to let me head out.

We really ride together a lot.  We used to get more solo rides sprinkled in, but over the last year or so, I have probably only had four or five solo rides.  It is fun to be out alone, just you and the horses.  But at the same time the rides feel very different, and it is harder to come up with things to work on.  Normally if I ever get stuck, I can just think back to the four or five things I have seen Robin do out of my peripheral vision.

Today it was pretty easy to fill my rides because I didn’t ride very long.  I started with Laredo.  For the first time in many outings he decided not to kick up his heels and he came right to me.  I was very curious to see how he’d be by himself.  Totally unaffected.  He was extremely relaxed and just happy to hang out.

This week we received a ton of rain, and everywhere around the barn was sopping.  That meant more indoor riding.  It was sunny, though, and I opened up the big doors in the arena.

Laredo was really attentive from the beginning.  We worked on all our usual things for a while and everything was nice and soft.  Then we started working on whirly-gigs and I had some trouble.  We could get them pretty good bending to the right.  I could get him stepping under, find the point where his balance shifts, and then bring the front end over. 

But going left we were getting stuck.  I couldn’t stop his front end, and I could not, for the life of me, get my timing down with his hind feet.  The poor guy had to put up with me going to the left multiple times, then going to the right and trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.  I figured out the problem was in the set up.  Since we had nothing right from the beginning, everything else was off, too.  I think I was leaning to the right a little bit when asking him to disengage, and therefore I was getting in his way.  Laredo is pretty tuned in to our seats, so feeling my weight more equally balanced in the saddle, I’m sure drifting forward but still kicking the hind end over felt logical to him.  Once I fixed this we got a few decent whirly-gigs to the left, but I’ll have to keep practicing them.

We also had some fun time loping.  He was giving me the slowest lope I’ve ever felt, but thankfully he never dropped it on me.  Towards the end I encouraged him to move out a little faster and he responded.  So that is good.  I don’t want the slow, western pleasure type lope to become the norm, but as long as he’s not dropping it right now, I’ll take it.  Baby steps.

After I put Laredo back I grabbed Bear.  Robin has been encouraging me to ride in her saddle for weeks.  The only problem is, she’s usually in it when I am riding.  But today I had my chance.

It is much, much lighter than mine.  The stirrup leathers and fenders are trimmer and so are the skirts.  Hers is also a 1/2 inch smaller than mine, and I have lately been wondering if my seat is a little bigger than is ideal. 

Bear and I had a pretty good time in it.  He was much softer off my leg than he normally is.  I can only think this is due to the trimmer fenders.  I also felt nice sitting in the seat.  In my saddle I definitely shift forward and back a lot, but in Robin’s I was in a nice pocket and very aware of the cantle.  But I wasn’t cramped. 

The only downside is Robin’s saddle is built with a narrower seat than mine.  This made my hips feel cramped.  I’m used to have a nice, wide spread over the horse, but this narrower seat got my problem right hip all flared up.  It hasn’t bother me that much riding since we took a lesson with my mom a while ago.  And we rode in English saddles, which were also very, very narrow (so were the horses).

But Bear and I still got a lot done.  Lots of loping and trotting and I also subjected him to a few whirly-gigs to see if my balance and timing were better.  Maybe a little, but I’ve got a lot of work to do there.

Before leaving I brought Steen in too.  We had to put the blankets back on all the guys on Wednesday due to freezing temps and rain.  We’ve got more of that in the forecast, but unfortunately the days are a little warm.  So I wanted to get as much dirt and hair out of his coat as I could.  And wow was that a lot of hair.  Steen’s got the most hair of all our horses, and the funny thing is, his coat is the most useless when it comes to keeping him warm.  But he was happy to hang out with me while I groomed him up.

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