Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tag Team

Two Sundays in a row now, Brian has gone out to the barn with me. Last Sunday on the way out we stopped at a tack shop to pick up a new headstall to go with Steen's new bit - a Myler loose-ring snaffle with nice big rings and bent mouth-pieces. It is a lot like the one I've been using on him, just a good deal higher quality. The new headstall possesses a throat-latch, which I think is quite helpful for keeping everything in place and helping queues come across consistently.

Now with the new headstall and bit, I think I can safely say I am completely content with Steen's tack. It is amazing how long a process it is to get all set up in a way that works flawlessly for both horse and rider.

So, today Brian and I had a beautiful day, good equipment, and ample time. We started the day off with a little ground-work since Steen seemed a little antsy right when we took him out of the pasture. I am always so amazed at just how much a few minutes working with him on disengages, stops, backs, etc. helps him to relax.

After Steen was quite calm, Brian hopped on. They started off "cruising" at the trot, until Steen was relaxed and mellow. Then they did figure eights, alternated with staying on the rail going in both directions. They both looked so good, I was quite tickled.

After about 40 minutes, Brian hopped off and I got on. Steen and I worked on standing. For some reason, though he'll stand around all day without fidgeting if you're on the ground, he just wants to go if you are in the saddle. But he doesn't want to run away or anything, he just wants to walk. So, we worked a lot on standing still. We also loped. I can't believe how much more balanced and collected his lope is getting - and how much more often he's picking up the correct lead. At one point when we were "cruising," he dropped the lope, I told him to pick it up again, and he did but on the wrong lead. He went along like that for a few strides and then, instead of changing leads, he changed diretions. Pretty funny, but at least it was the right idea.

I rode for half an hour or so, at first letting him choose our course and then steering myself. He was good in both instances. Then I cooled him off and Brian and I untacked him, doted on him for a while, groomed him, let him roll in the indoor area, fed him an apple core, put iodine on his rain rot and sunscreen on his nose, and then put him back out with the rest of the herd.

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