Saturday, September 18, 2010

Slowing Down

The season is just starting to turn definitively towards fall and today we woke up to a storm. The rain passed, however, so we decided to fill the late morning with a barn trip.

Our goal for the day was for me to pay close attention to Bear and Brian and try to help facilitate their communication after the challenges of their last ride. We've had Bear for three weeks now and in that time we've changed a lot of things up on him, and I think he's having trouble understanding exactly what we want of him. He's also definitively stiff when turning right, so we're trying to find constructive, non-threatening ways to supple him up.

Since it was overcast and we had simple goals, we also took the SLR in order to get some good photos. You can see more on Brian's blog.

So, we retired to the strip. I didn't want to use a saddle (my foot's having issues again) so Brian had to give me a leg-up before mounting. I then gave Brian a pseudo lesson for about 45 minutes and we kept things very simple. We worked on flexing and turning and stopping, and little else. Bear started out a little nervous, but we kept our goals very short and clear and we let him stand a lot in between requests and he seemed to really settle down and relax.

For the most part Steen and I were not mobile. I sat on his back and he stood. At first he was a little unhappy with this arrangement, but before long his protests gave way to napping.

Since he's generally not inclined to stand still, it was great practice.

After Brian and Bear were finished with their ride, I did trot around on Steen a bit.

He was mostly pretty good. He's neck reining better and better, even when he's being all excitable and bratty.

In the end it was a very fun, relaxing Saturday morning at the barn. We returned the two boys to the pasture and took some more photos. Since it's supposed to be cool and rainy, we left their fly masks off for the moment. Steen's winter coat is just starting to come in and the storm washed him for me. He's looking pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.


  1. Bear's one-sided stiffness sounds a lot like Tranikla's (except on the other side). Things that seem to have helped for us are lots of figure-8s, circles, and spirals both in and out. When turning, try to get Bear to bend his whole body, even if just for a second. (I started by asking for a circle, circling until I got a decent bend, then immediately releasing and rewarding.) Start out doing everything at the walk, and then do the same things at the trot. I'm obviously no expert at this, but it seems to be helping Tranikla with balance and flexibility.

    I think the hard part is keeping it light enough that you don't make him sore. You'll have to try to judge how much he can take, but starting out I'd only ask for a few actual focused bends, and then just let him do the patterns as he likes. Also make sure to work on turning/bending for both sides, focusing just on the bad side will make him sore.

    Anyways, kinda a novel, but I thought I'd share what I've learned. Good luck. :)

  2. Thanks for the insights. They are helpful as I've never had this exact problem before. We don't won't over-stretch, and luckily we're not in a huge rush, so hopefully with a little care and effort he'll limber right up. :)


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