Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Four Short Rides

Ok, well, the title of this post might be a bit of an exaggeration. But only a bit. In the last two days I've been to the barn twice and I've ridden both of our horses both times. I'm not sure I've ever actually done that before.

Yesterday my mission was to spend a while working on Bear's trot. Last fall we were just trying to let him settle in and between changing his bit and his stiff right side, we were mostly just doing walking rides. Then he had some time off in the winter and since Brian's been riding again regularly he's been feeling a bit uncomfortable in his saddle. Combine that with the fact that no one has trotted on Bear in months and he hasn't been super inclined to push the ticket. So I went out to the pasture yesterday carrying Bear's halter, but Steen saw me and came from all the way across the pasture and then Bear came from by the bale and pinned his ears at Steen and so then I had to take Steen because otherwise I'd just be rewarding grouchy behavior.

Steen was perkier than the day before but still super mellow. I only rode him for 20 minutes, mostly trotting. He was absolutely great, remembering his stopping lessons from the day before. I gave him some chopped hay and took him back outside.

Bear did not come to me the second time, so I had to slog through the mud to get him. He was not in the greatest mood and seemed a bit disinclined to come with me, but didn't do anything bad. I took him inside and groomed him, tacked him up and climbed on. Immediately I was shocked at how 'not Steen' he was, but we walked around and got him warmed up. Then I asked for the trot. He picked it up willingly enough but was pretty ready to give me a lot more loft and action than I was really interested in. I like a jog, not a real trot, so I reined him in and tried to get him to settle. It took quite a while, but he did eventually seem to hit his stride. His trot got a lot more consistent and quite a bit smoother. We switched directions and kept going. He was worse going right but still ok. Eventually we switched back to going left and then we stopped. I gave him some chopped hay for being so good.

Today Brian's new saddle arrived in the mail. His new Bear Trap Rancher (yes that is actually, genuinely, what the saddle is called) by American Saddlery:

So, the two of us had to go try it out after work. I brought Steen in, but he was skittish and restive at first and there was a lesson going on in the arena. We put Bear's new saddle on without the pad and it seemed to fit. We added a pad and Brian finished tacking. I hung out with Steen outside the arena while Brian climbed on. Things went well from the start. The last few months I've really been noticing how Bear has gotten pretty disinclined to really step out with his hind legs, preferring to pull his strides up short. I thought this was because he was tight in the hind end. Today, however, the short strides were gone. Although we had no real evidence that our other saddle didn't fit, after today I'm more or less certain it was a major factor in Bear's issues with turning right. I watched Brian turn him in all the right-hand circles he wanted without any resistance from Bear. Gone also was the head-tossing we've seen lately.

I hopped on after Brian rode for a while and could immediately feel the difference. Even Bear's walk was smoother. I asked him for a trot and he picked up pretty willingly, then fell into a smoother jog than I ever got yesterday. So, even though we mostly got the new saddle for Brian it seems like it will benefit Bear just as much.

I only rode Bear for a few minutes, then swapped with Brian again. The lesson was finished by then, so I brought Steen in and hopped on bareback. In spite of his early antics, he was actually great. His trot was smooth but energetic. His stops were spot-on.

I didn't ride for long. We soon hopped off and gave the boys some chopped hay (it's super wet and chilly, so they need the extra calories.)

I also put Steen's blanket back on. He's notably dropped weight since I took it off. Le sigh. He also got his tail all full of mud again.

Horseback Hours YTD: 6:30


  1. I always have those strange "not the other horse" moments when I switch horses. Especially when I ride both in the same day. It seems obvious that no two horses would be the same...but it still hits me every time.

    Glad the new saddle it working out better than expected. It's always nice when that happens. :)

  2. Yeah, the saddle is a relief. Hopefully our first impressions hold true. You research and read and make a decision and then sort of cross your fingers. It is so hard when you can't try things out first.

    And I know what you mean. I'll be the first to tell you every horse is different, and yet it still surprises me. Ha.


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