Sunday, September 07, 2008

More Bareback

Since the ground was still rather damp today, I went bareback and indoors again. This time I was not alone in the arena, but shared it with another horse and rider. It is always nice when this happens because it is good practice for Steen in the art of paying attention to me when there are other, potentially rather more interesting goings on to pay attention to. As usual, we started out with some ground work, and then we started the ride. We did a lot of walk and trot, and he was trotting in a very relaxed manner right from the start, which was nice. Then the other horse got a different rider, who somehow made the other horse rather agitated. The other horse commenced to do things like lope sideways (very slowly, as he's been trained hard-core western pleasure) and back up for long stretches in spite of the riders efforts to make him go forwards. This horse's agitation was soon communicated to Steen, and he started trotting faster, though I was still not at all of the impression that he was particularly agitated himself.

This went on for a few tuns around the arena, until Steen and I went by the open side-door of the arena. I believe (though am not entirely certain, as I was facing forward at the time) that a horse who was occupying the pasture outside (and had intermittently been trying to get into the arena while we rode) did something to startle Steen. All these variables added up, and Steen did something he hadn't done in a very long time. He broke, unasked, into a very fast lope.

Luckily, I regained control quickly, and stopped him. I then proceeded to let him walk and calm down a bit, until the other horse and rider finished what they were doing.

As much as I don't generally approve of my horses picking up fast gaits without my explicit suggestion they do so, in the end, I was quite pleased with Steen for his brief rebellion today. As, after my initial surprise, his sudden increase in speed gave me no difficulty either in keeping my seat or bringing him to stop, it didn't upset me but instead eradicated my lingering hesitance to lope bareback on Steen. I celebrated my happy clearance of the last hurdle between me and my ability to do everything I want to do on my new(ish) horse by loping a whole lot more after the other horse left the arena.

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