Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Creek Crossings and Covered Bridges

Yesterday I went to the barn for the first time in a week. I definitely felt I needed a break after the emotional exhaustion of Sham's departure, and also last week my free time amounted to just about zero. I'm building so many websites these days, I hardly have time to eat, much less ride my horse.

But on Monday morning I finally decided I simply had to get out there again, and the prospect of a ride with Jean and Schoolie was a good motivator.

I found Steen hanging out with the pasture horses seeming pretty relaxed. He's shed most of his winter coat and is apparently getting plenty to eat. He has the large belly, skinny legs and chest look going just now. I really need to get him back on a regular exercise program so he can put some muscle back on...

Anyway, Jean and I tacked up and headed out. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. The grass was lush and green. We made our way across Cathi's land and onto Jim's. We paused in a field while Jean worked Schoolie. I tried to work Steen too, but that didn't go so well. He's at a point where he seems to get arena work and he seems to get trail-riding, but he doesn't get doing fake arena work while in the middle of a trail-ride. He got a bit agitated, so we digressed to walking and trotting along the edge of a field until he calmed down. Then we moved on.

We rode all the way around Jim's cross-country course (avoiding the jumps, of course). Steen's accomplishments for the day included crossing a covered bride with no protest whatsoever, and walking through the scary stream again. He didn't hesitate on the way in and only pranced a bit on the way out.

We were on the home stretch when we saw three other people on horse-back in the distance, and for a while things got a bit touchy. Steen and Schoolie both got pretty revved up at the thought of joining the strange horses, and both Jean and I had our hands full keeping them at a walk. Steen pranced steadily for many minutes - something he'd never done before. But once the other horses turned off our path, things calmed down again and Steen walked quietly home.

So, all in all, I am pleasantly surprised by Steen's performance. We went well beyond his 'comfort zone' and not only did he take it all willingly, he never actually even spooked. I am going to try to put in some serious time in the outdoor arena in the next week or two, though. Trail-riding is great, but it can lead to some basic concepts getting a tad rusty.

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