Thursday, May 29, 2008

Seated

Yesterday after I got home from the gallery I had some web work to do, so I stayed at the house a little later than usual before heading out to the stable. As I have mentioned, the later I get there, the higher my chances of running into other people. Heather pulled in shortly after I arrived, but as I like her and her horse and she doesn't use the same tack-up area as I do, this was just fine with me.

Steen was really good. He is almost completely perfect at standing now, and he preemptively lifted three of his hooves for me to pick. On his last hoof, however, he swiveled off before I could get to it. I scolded him lightly, put him back where he'd been and he gave me no further trouble.

I rode indoors again due to continued rain. The only things Cathi told me not to do when she was showing me around the stable were make big messes and not clean them up, and ride in the outdoor arena when it was wet. Since she is so mellow on everything else, I am perhaps overly cautious about preserving the grass out there.

The side-door in the indoor arena was open, however, so we had some fresh air inside and could see the herd. Tommy (Heather's horse) was cross-tied right at the arena entrance, so we had plenty of things to pay attention to. But Steen was really good. Twice he jumped slightly when we were going by Tommy and someone made a strange noise before he could see them, but these were very minor and so I ignored them.

Since Steen was being so good, I decided I needed to concentrate more on me. I have been battling the "bareback syndrome" for the last number of weeks. Years upon years of riding without a saddle has caused me to have a slight tendency to tip forward. It's nothing big, and doesn't seem to aversely affect my seat, but it is still not ideal for communicating with a new horse - particularly one who's been trained western. Yesterday, however, I concluded I've more or less conquered the problem.

So, that left the fact that Steen was paying lots of good attention to me, and I was riding very competently. I decided to go for minimal hand movement, and see what I could get him to do just with my body.

The answer is: a whole lot. When I planted my feet forward and leaned back and said whoa, he would stop with either no rein pressure or just a light twitch. He'll also back with just twitching of the reins. He began to pick up a walk and trot based on my seat, and when turning, he responded to rotating of my shoulders.

The only time I had to use significant rein pressure on his neck was during figure eights - particularly tight ones. He turns on a dime when we turn left, but he is still a little weak turning right. Also, his lope is still very fast at fist, but after he settles in he's becoming more collected and is picking up the right lead with more consistency, though he has a tendency to drop out of it with his hind legs on turns.

Still, I was well pleased. I hardly touched his mouth the whole day, and we had a great ride in spite of the fact that the herd was visible through the open door, Tommy was being tacked up by Heather and her parents were also milling around, watching and talking. His head definitely seems to be in the right place now. Now that my butt is too, things are going well.

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