Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bear Day

It's a day of haze and fog in Iowa, but luckily Brian and I already had a plan for our barn activities today. We thought another day with both of us focused Bear would be the best, so we decided to leave Steen in the pasture. Amusingly, the fact that I did not halter him did not deter him from walking right at my side back up to the barn.

It actually made me feel oddly guilty to close the gate on him and tell him he couldn't come.

We started out with ground-work, not because Bear really needs it but because I wanted to see how he felt about going right without a rider on his back. He was surprisingly jumpy on the line. I have a feeling he's used to be longed in the widely accepted "make the horse run like mad by scaring the shit of it" method, so I was very calm and gentle with him. He was great at flexing, right off the bat.

When I asked for him to circle to the right, he didn't want to go. I didn't have to do anything too dramatic to persuade him, but then he kept trying to disengage and go back in the other direction.

Steen watched all this from the other side of the fence - clearly a bit confused.

I didn't work with Bear for long. After I got some good circles in both directions, Brian got on. He then had a ride similar to yesterday's, except Bear was calmer and more responsive. He's already yielding to the snaffle extremely well, and also his woahs were excellent today.

Mostly I told Brian what to do and gave him the occasional pointer. Towards the end I had him doing sprials, keeping a circle but making it tighter and tighter until he was right next to me. Bear was absolutely great at this going left, but going right he was so bad we stopped trying after a few minutes.

So, I'm now more convinced then ever that Bear is stiff on the right side. Luckily, he was showing more ability to bend today than yesterday, so with any luck our gentle circling and bending exercises along with the extra strength and flexibility that comes with getting in shape will solve the problem.

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