Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Mellow

Yesterday Steen and I did our own thing - something we've not actually done in a very long while. I headed out in the chill of the morning only after digging out some of my winter horse-riding gear.

I found Steen in the pasture looking fluffy and comfortable. It was an unusually still day and the wind seems to be a big part of what makes the herd sometimes feel cold. I took him indoors and he was so quiet while I groomed him, he was literally nodding off at times. This is a new thing for him, and definitely something he's learned from Bear.

I tacked up, went outdoors, set up cones on the strip and climbed on.  Steen was good from the start. The one thing he wasn't awesome at was standing for long periods of time, but other than that he was spot-on. We worked figure-eights and circles and he was giving me his smoothest little jog almost from the start. He's still erratic in the circles, having a tendency to accelerate in some places and slow down in others, but I've found if I just leave him alone and let him go the speed he wants, he settles in. I've also noticed that the strip is pretty slanted in some places and when he's moving consistently and predictably I can adjust my weight and position to help him with the grade, which in turn allows him to balance better and relax more which helps me to ride better and so on and so forth. After a number of minutes at the trot he was carrying his head like a veritable western-pleasure horse.

I didn't ride for long. I was tempted to push it and throw some loping in there, but sometimes I feel like when you're horse is just being perfect it's kind of nice to let them off easy. After half an hour I dismounted and we headed back indoors.

Today I'm taking the day off, but I've ridden five out of the last six days. I know and have always known that the only way to get a horse trained and relaxed and good at its job is to ride it a lot, but of course that's hard to manage when your horse is only your hobby. But to see such fast changes over the last week definitely drives the point home for me. Consistency works wonders.

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