Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I Could Get Used to This

On Sunday, Brian and I returned to the barn, where we first made a few modifications to the saddle we're using. I replaced the nylon tie-strap with a leather one, since the cinch is also nylon, as is the off-billet. Although Cal is not our horse, I have pretty strong convictions about nylon and soreness, and also as my rather valuable husband is going to be spending time on this mare's back, I want her to be comfortable.

We also added some leather bits to the bottoms of the stirrups so Brian can get more traction with the balls of his feet, and fashioned some make-shift hobble straps to replace those that this saddle no longer has. Before we went to the barn I moved the bit Cathi is loaning us onto Steen's old headstall (which works well with a curb, so that is convenient), cleaned it up and attached Steen's old reins. So, the tack situation was greatly improved for round two. That, combined with knowing what to expect from Cal made the whole getting ready part of the ride much shorter and the riding part of the ride much better.

I was just a tad worried at first. Cal is a mellow creature, and already more used to us, so even more relaxed than the previous day. She was so relaxed at first, in fact, that Brian was getting a wee bit frustrated with her after we got him mounted, particularly since she seemed very inclined to go backwards. I finally got Steen ready and joined Brian and saw that when he was asking her to turn, he was putting an infinitesimal amount of backwards pressure on her bit, so she was executing some nice backward turns, rotating on her hind and everything. Of course, this wasn't what Brian was wanting. So, I explained about curb bits a little further, he readjusted (to be fair, he's used to riding the excitable Steen in a snaffle, so to really let go on a strange horse was a lot to ask) and from there things went really well. After a little trotting, Cal perked right up and before long the two of them were walking, trotting and loping up and down the strip. I stayed a little further away from them for the most part, keeping an eye on them but not crowding. We'd fall in side by side from time to time and once had a lovely little lope up the hill to the barn.

Steen was good, though he's still antsy overall and prone to making his sudden bids to go home. Perhaps the contrast with the mellow, compliant Cal made this more noticeable. I've been taking it very easy with him. Lots of walking, a little trotting, just a smidge of loping. He feels very comfortable and solid under me, and he's more than willing to go fast when asked.

Brian rode for over an hour. I probably clocked in right under, given that I helped get him up on Cal before turning my attention to grooming and tacking Steen. It was a very nice ride. Very fun. It's an interesting experience to have Brian getting to know a horse I have ridden only for all of two minutes just to make sure she wasn't going to start bucking or anything ridiculous like that before turning her over to Brian.

Today we have rain, so no barn for me. I'll probably go solo again tomorrow, and we'll see how Steen and I do on our own again.

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