Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Jog

I am happy to report that I believe Steen has finally (2.5 years after he came into my life) mastered the art of the jog. It's a funny thing, because while the jog isn't necessarily something I strive to teach my horse, and I certainly would never go to great lengths to force a non-jog-inclined horse to poke along as a very low pace, it does seem undeniable that the quarter-horse type is suited to this particular gait and if you get a horse of such breeding relaxed enough, it will default into an uber-smooth shuffle.

Today I rode Steen bareback on the strip, and he was wonderful. His jog was like butter and he gave it to me without any encouragement on my end to slow down. He was really, really listening to my body - to the degree that when I turned my head left, his ears would swivel left and then at the lightest touch of a rein on his neck or my leg on his side, he'd turn. And the coolest part of all is he was doing all this outside, with a huge empty soybean field to one side and a herd of horses to the other, with Bear and Brian roving around at the same time. No fence was telling him he couldn't run, but he was just completely into the idea of paying really close attention and expending as little energy as possible.

Brian also rode bareback again today, but things with Bear were not quite as great. While Brian did wonderfully (his seat is just getting better and better) Bear was grumpy and/or uncomfortable. Eventually I suggested Brian get off and do some groundwork - not that he was having trouble, exactly, but Bear's body language just didn't seem right to me. Brian put him on the longe line and everything went pretty fine until Brian asked Bear to trot in a right-hand circle, at which point Bear exploded. He kicked, bucked and came down running and proceeded to race around Brian on the line at a rather frantic pace. Brian was handling everything without a problem, but I was curious to see how Bear would respond to me, so I took the rope after a while and tried some more exercises. Bear did some nice calm trotting to the left and more bucking and leaping to the right. So, we're not quite sure what's up with him. I think he's probably just sore or stiff (though you'd never know it from his action). I'm sure getting him back in shape is going to be a process, and there will be some hiccups. Luckily, we can rest pretty easy knowing we haven't been super demanding, so hopefully with regular light work these kinks will just work themselves out.

I do think we're going to give him some more time on the longe line though. Not to work him hard, but just to give him a chance to move some without a rider. At times today he seemed to be really enjoying himself.


  1. Does Bear "lean in" when he's lunging to the right? Tranikla used to do this when lunging/round-penning in his bad direction. He'd point his nose slightly to the outside and lean towards the center with his shoulder. He was basically "falling", or "throwing" his weight, towards the center and had to "catch" himself by moving at a certain speed. (This was because he couldn't balance himself properly, but was still trying to do what I wanted.) He tended to travel fast, because he had to keep up his speed so he didn't fall over.

    It is possible for you to work him at liberty in the arena? It might be interesting to see if he has the same issues going right in a larger area with no rider. Longe lines make for pretty small circles, and a carrying a rider changes the horse's balance a lot.

    Anyways, glad to hear Steen is doing better. Doesn't it seems like it's always one horse or the other who decides to be a pain? At least, that's often how I feel. :)

  2. Yes, Bear's definitely leans and I'm certain you are right, he's acceleration is at least partially caused by his difficulty bending. Thanks for the idea to work him at liberty in an arena. We will try that. We've also got a chiropractor coming out to look at him, though our hill-walking and stretching exercises do seem to be helping.

  3. My son's mare has the sweetest jog. My mare, not so much. I would love it if she could find it. I'm starting to ride bareback more & her trot is pretty tough of me.

    Sorry about Schooly. What a beautiful horse. Your friend made a tough & brave decision.


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