Sunday, October 03, 2010

Five Days, Four Rides, No Photos

It's been an interesting week and I'm well behind on the blogging so I'm going go try to catch up in one post.  I also have been horrible neglectful with the camera lately, so have no images to go with these reports.

Wednesday: Ride One
Steen and I rode with Bear and Brian on the strip.  I took it easy again, since my foot was still flared up, and Steen was quiet and mostly willing to walk and stand, giving me some decent figure-eights at the trot towards the end.  Bear was actually the worst he's been since we've owned him - sluggish, unresponsive.  Just "off" in general.  We couldn't identify any particular problem, so after Brian rode for quite a while I offered to ride Bear to see if I could figure out if he was just deciding to give Brian a hard time or if something really was up.  So, I climbed onto Bear for the third time ever and was immediately shocked at how "not Steen" he is.  Meanwhile Brian climbed on Steen and proceeded to mostly stand around.

Bear was definitely not his usual self.  He wasn't refusing to do anything, but everything he did was highly mediocre and not at all of a quality we've come to expect from him.  He wasn't resisting in any way in particular, he was just unbelievable unenthusiastic in general.  I only rode for a few minutes after dismounting since I don't feel I know him well enough to be able to tell yet whether it was a case of needing to be worked through something or if he was genuinely not feeling well and I feel it is, in general, better to err on the side of assuming there is a reason for strange behavior when it occurs.

Friday: Ride Two
My foot made rapid progress on the healing front on Wednesday and Thursday, so on Friday Steen and I rode with Jean and Schooley.  We had an absolutely fabulous early-fall romp all around some new cornfields we found.  Much time was spent at the lope.  Steen pranced a lot and after the first few lopes developed a tendency to go off like a bullet when asked to accelerate, sometimes not exactly in the correct direction.  But it was unbelievably FUN.  It was significantly faster, harder, longer ride than Steen has ever gone on before.

Later in the day Brian went to the barn and had a wonderful solo outing on Bear, so that was a relief and makes me feel our choice to give him the benefit of the doubt on Wednesday was the right thing to do.

Saturday: Ride Three
It was cold and blustery and there was a whole lot of commotion in the barn.  We gave the boys a snack of chopped hay when we arrived to get their minds off how chilly and hungry they were, then went to the strip.  Steen proceeded to be absolutely horrible.  Spinning, prancing, trying to bolt, gathering up under me like he was going to rear.  After a few minutes I got off his back and did some groundwork with him.  That helped a little and I remounted and he stayed very difficult for another fifteen minutes and finally settled into a somewhat normal version of himself, so the last ten minutes of my ride were not as bad.  Bear and Brian, in the meantime, had a fabulous ride.

Sunday: Ride Four
I took the long line and the stick out to the strip and put Steen through his basic groundwork paces.  He was very, very good - trotting in a collected little jog, disengaging and backing perfectly, flexing, backing: the works.  After a few minutes, I got on and he continued to be unbelievable good.  Like - best ride on the strip ever kind of good.  He was soft and engaged, his trot was smooth and collected.  He was willing to trot in circles of figure-eights, then stop and stand and then walk some more before trotting again.  It was like he wasn't even the same horse I rode yesterday.

After half an hour on the strip with Bear being not quite as good as Steen but not bad, we decided to take a jaunt around the soy-bean field.  That went really well until something in the bushes scared Steen and he bolted and Bear bolted as well, but Brian handled it masterfully, bringing him back down to a stop from a lope so he could pick up his dropped stirrup.  In spite of the excitement, Steen was willing to walk (not prance) back to the barn, so all in all I count the ride a great success.

So, four very different rides in five days.  Ah, horses.

2 comments:

  1. This is one of the many reasons I find myself wishing we had the ability to communicate more clearly with horses. You could go out to the barn and just have them tell you "hey, I tripped over something last night and I'm kinda sore. let's take it easy today" or whatever, and you'd know. Of course, if they could talk, they could probably figure out how to stretch the truth, and you might still end up guessing at how tired/sore/moody they really are...so maybe it wouldn't really help all that much.

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  2. Yeah, I can't imagine ever getting an honest answer from a horse if we could ask, "Are you feeling poorly, or are you just being a jerk?" :)

    But I know what you mean. It would be nice to have a fool-proof way of knowing when they feel bad.

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