Friday, June 25, 2010

Between Storms

We've had a crazy string of summer storms rolling through Iowa the last couple weeks - two a day sometimes, just crashing in with thunder and lightning and dumping tons of water. Add the weather to that whole running a small business thing I'm doing these days, plus some foot-related issues lingering from our long walk and the result is I haven't been riding as much as I imagined I would when I no longer had any boss but myself. A week ago Saturday was Duke day, so I was out at the barn then with Brian, and Steen got his feet trimmed. While we were waiting for our turn I rode him bareback around the indoor arena for a while and that was quite fun. He was good - very mellow, and it really is pretty wonderful to have sand in there finally.

But the next week was busy, rainy and I had to go see a podiatrist and baby my foot, so the barn did not happen. Yesterday I finally headed out again. It was a beautiful summer morning. Steen was about as far away from the barn as he could be while still contained within the pasture fence, but I enjoyed the stroll out to get him. He's been very affectionate since I got back. Lately when I reach him with the halter he pushes his nose down and tries to get the strap over his nose himself. When I groom him he tries to groom me. When I return him to the pasture he stands at the gate and waits for me to leave. It warms the heart a bit.

Anyway, yesterday I had a great ride. I still had to ride indoors because putting my foot in stirrup just now would not be smart and while I'm almost sure I'd be fine riding Steen outdoors alone without a saddle, he's still unpredictable enough on the trail as to make it not worth the risk. So we stayed inside and did a pretty long walk-trot ride, practicing all the usual stuff. I rode for 45 minutes. It was getting hot. Steen was tired and ready to be done. But I wanted to lope. Circumstances have lined up in such a way that I somehow haven't actually loped Steen (voluntarily) in months, mainly because I've been trying to keep him relaxed on the trails and up until a few weeks ago there has not been an arena with halfway decent footing on the premises. So, I wasn't sure what Steen would do, but I know that a lot of horses who haven't been loped for a while will crow-hop or buck, and two of my three falls of Steen occurred at the lope ...and I was bareback and there was no one else around ...but... I really wanted to lope. So I took Steen to the rail and told him to go. He picked it up right away (mostly out of surprise, I think) then after a few strides started crow-hopping. I kept upwards pressure on the bit with one hand and held onto his mane with the other and told him to keep going. He switched from crow-hopping to fast-trotting and back several times and finally settled down a little, dug in and went forward. I encouraged him and only made him go about halfway around the arena before I let him stop and praised him lavishly, feeling more than a little exhilarated. Hopefully he's now remembered what his third gear is all about and next time that will go more smoothly.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Photos from Our Trip

While this post isn't technically horse related, I thought I'd share photos from our trip on the Steen blog anyway.

Images from our trip to the UK. We started by walking the Highland Way - 95 miles of trail between Glasgow and Fort William in Scotland. We went from there to Whitley Bay (near Newcastle) for a week with my brother and his bride. Then up to Beadnell (Northumberland) for the wedding. Click any image for more info on any particular shot.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Back on the Map

Four weeks is a long time to be away. I definitely missed Steen more than just about anything. Fortunately Cathi sent me a few photos over the course of the trip, so on those rare occasions we managed to get online there was usually an update waiting.

This morning I went out to the barn to see how Steen has fared in my absence. He looks great. Plump, glossy, sleek. I venture to say he is at the high end of a healthy weight. Even his lower haunch (usually the first area he starts looking thin and last spot to plump up) is well-padded.

Steen is definitely not too thin these days

We didn't do much today. It was a bit warm and I mostly just felt like petting him. We did a bit of a groundwork, both on and off the lead in the new sand of the indoor arena, and Steen had a good roll. I turned him back out and told him I'd see him tomorrow.

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