Saturday, July 18, 2009

Up a Notch

Yesterday I had a busy morning but decided I wanted to get two rides at the new place under my belt before the planned group outing on Sunday I intend to attend with Steen. So, I dashed out to the barn after a morning of work on a new logo for a client, and found Steen hanging out at the top of the pasture with the herd. I took his fly mask off to discover his eyes have not run any more since I cleaned his face, so that is a good sign. I tacked him up, did a little ground-work and we returned to the strip.

The setting was much the same as our first ride, except minus the farrier and the other boarder. So, that means we only had a construction crew and an overly interested baby to contend with. Steen was visibly calmer about the ride this time, which I took as a good sign (and since his eyes have cleared up I'm thinking infection-induced lethargy is likely not a factor). He was great at the walk and trot. He was good about keeping his trot slow, and wasn't as nervous about heading down away from the herd. So, we did a lot of walk/trot work (with the baby always parallel to us on the other side of the fence) and finally I geared myself up and asked for the lope.

I must admit I was a tad nervous about loping. I knew the baby would go nuts (which she did) and this also marks the first time I've ever gone that fast on Steen in an uncontained environment. I believed he would do just fine, but feared he might get up to some hi-jinx if he felt he could get away from it. So, I asked for the lope and he picked it up and he was excited, and exploded up the hill, and the baby started squealing and galloping in circles, and Steen started some high-spirited kicking-up of heels. I let him go until we started running out of space and then brought him back to stop, which took quite a bit more doing than usual, but was by no means difficult. Then we loped a little more, trying for some circles but achieving a shape perhaps more reminiscent of a broken egg. He was excited, and sloppy and I wasn't giving him his head, so all in all it was not an ideal ride, but it did show me that my horse can be trusted to continue to listen even at high speeds (and not buck) in an open, fairly unfamiliar space with lots of external distractions in place. I feel this is good knowledge to have before sallying forth in a group.

After a little loping I made Steen walk until he was calm and I called it a day, untacked him and put him back in the pasture. I'm looking forward to Sunday. I think it will be a good opportunity to scope out "the trail" without having to go out alone, since Steen is way way calmer in the company of other horses.

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