Monday, April 25, 2011

Lope, Lope, Lope

I hadn't been out to the barn alone in a while so today I shuffled my schedule around to fit in a late morning ride. I found Steen a bit antsy. There is now a house going up next to the barn, and apparently the heavy machinery had him excited. Beyond that the weather is odd today. It is chilly and dim and it just has that off feeling about the air.

I brought Steen inside and groomed him and gave him a snack. I threw the bear trap on his back and headed for the strip. He was nervous heading out, starting to prance a couple of times before I even got on. I ignored him though, once walking him in a slow circle to keep him from getting ahead of me. I set up cones a bit further down the strip than usual to gives us as much of a buffer from the machinery as possible. Then I climbed on.

At first, Steen was not great. He wanted to hang out near the herd and he was also inclined to break into a trot. So I decided to let him do what he wanted... while working. I made him trot in loose circles and figure eights right next to the herd. After maybe five minutes he'd settled down and was back to being supple and responsive.

We walked and trotted for quite a while and then I asked for the lope. It was fast, rough, high, and inconsistent at first, but I got him going in a circle and things improved steadily from there. We kept it up for quite a long time, and he relaxed steadily. It was still on the fast side and I was never fully able to give him his head, but after going in a small circle for a quite a while I was able to widen the circle considerably and let him have some straightaways, and he stayed pretty consistent with his pace even with the whole open strip in front of him.

I stopped him and let him rest, then worked on circles in the other direction, which were not quite as nice since that is his 'weak' direction. Then I worked on loping him down the strip, asking him to stop and stand for a moment, turning, and loping back up.

And while his lope was far from perfect, I have to say I had a total ball. I absolutely love loping. It is arguably the reason I even have a horse. :)

I rode for 40 minutes and spent about half of that at the lope. That's a harder ride than Steen is used to just now, and though he was damp he wasn't actually as sweaty as I expected him to be. Of course, it was pretty chilly out.

I took him back inside and groomed him. After the workout his muscles were really standing out nicely.


I put him back in the pasture,


said hello to Bear,

and drove home smiling. I am almost more pleased with today's ride because Steen did start out antsy, but in spite of some nerves that never entirely left him, he never once bolted or shied or spooked, or even felt like he was trying to run away with me. And this is the first time I've ridden him outdoors alone all year. This is definitely progress.

Horseback Hours YTD: 14:55

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