We’ve been in a pretty good rhythm with the horses. Work’s been busy for me, so I haven’t been getting out a lot during the week, but we’ve been getting really great weekend rides.
I’ve been focusing on Steen and Aiden. Aiden seems sound now, so I’ve been working on just getting into a good groove with the basics. He continues to be super friendly, and every ride we have a few more things working for us. I’m getting more and more comfortable on him.
Today, I felt like I finally had the back end totally in hand for the first time. It’s taken some work with both Aiden and Oliver to get them consistently stepping under behind without dribbling forward or squirting to the side. Today I managed to get Aiden to step over behind without tipping his nose with my hands at all – just asking for the hind with the leg (while standing still). That felt good.
I also briefly played with using Aiden to move Laredo at one point. It’s always interesting to up the stakes a little, and put yourself in a position where you have to get something done at a particular moment. With Aiden, a lot of what I’ve been doing has been building his confidence, so sometimes that means giving him time to work at something. Too much of that can lead to a horse that doesn’t give you a lot of effort, though, so today we worked on accomplishing things with a little more precision. We got a lot done. He’s getting smoother and more balanced both ways at the canter, is moving forward with more life, and stopping with more effort.
I also got some great stuff done with Steen this weekend. We’ve been watching some Richard Caldwell videos lately, and I’m always just so impressed with how soft his horses are, and how well they move. Today I spent some time working on one of his exercises with Steen. This involves tipping the nose in a little further than I typically do during the circle. If the horse gets stiff or his head comes up, Richard talks about bumping him forward with the legs. Intermittent high-headed-stiffness is something that crops up with Steen sometimes, and I’ve never found a productive way to address it. So I was excited to see this exercise.
I spent some time today working on a big, energetic circle with Steen, and asking for a nose tip and more life any time he got a little rigid. We made some good progress. I found when I got him soft with a good nose tip, he ended up very nicely balanced and moving evenly on all four quarters while being very soft to my hands. This seemed to feed into some really fantastic stops. Steen has never been a horse that stops naturally, and though I’ve made a lot of progress on that with him, today we hit a new level. The one Brian got in video wasn’t even the best one of the day.
In other news, Oliver has been balding. He’s got large areas of totally bare skin on his shoulders and neck. The vet thinks it’s either lice or some other infestation. We’re putting both him and Aiden through an intensive worming program, because they both seem to be struggling with different types of things that seems to indicate bugs. Three days into the five days of treatment, Oliver is starting to grow his hair back and Aiden has a lot more energy under saddle.
Hopefully, we’re almost through the new horse adjustment period. Other than the bizarre hair issue, Oliver has been doing well.
Horseback Hours YTD: 74:35