Saturday, April 30, 2011

Steen the Solid

We had threats of storms today but nothing materialized, so Brian and I headed out to the barn in the early afternoon. We found the horses a little more settled than yesterday, and were out riding on the strip before long.

I was bareback and after Brian gave me a leg up Steen did something amazing. He didn't try to move. He didn't so much as shift his weight. Standing has been my number one challenge with Steen and usually when I mount I make him hold still for a few seconds and then just let him walk because if I try to make him stand it upsets him so much it ruins the whole ride.

But lately Steen and I have been working on standing a lot and today when I slipped onto his back his feet didn't budge. He even stood still as Brian led Bear off to mount. Unbelievable!

When I started to walk Steen around the strip I noticed he felt very different than usual. Steen is one of those horses that is sort of ready to go any direction at any moment. He is usually distracted by anything moving on the horizon. But today immediately after I mounted, Cathi's husband drove up on a bobcat and moved some huge black pipes off a trailer at the top of the strip. We moved the horses down a ways when he told us what he'd be doing, but I expected Steen to get a little worried about this. He literally never looked at the bobcat though. Not once.

I rode for an hour. In this time he was nearly perfect. He was jogging like a champ, even when I pointed him straight down the strip and gave him his head. After a while he started feeling like he wanted to lope, but not in an antsy, I'm upset and nervous and want to run away kind of way. He just started to feel springy and energetic and his ears were half turned back in my direction waiting for permission.

At first I didn't give it to him. As awesome as he was being, I haven't loped him outside much this year, and I was bareback, and I didn't want to spook Bear.

We rode for about 45 minutes, Steen and I mostly either trotting or standing. Then I had Steen parked at the bottom of the cones we had set out. Brian and I had discussed the possibility of him asking Bear for a lope today but I wasn't sure if he would do it or not. Then I heard a kiss behind me and Bear and Brian went loping past.

Steen? He didn't budge. Didn't even turn his head. They did this again and it had the same lack of impact on Steen.

Bear's lope looked great, and Brian looked comfortable in the saddle. So it's really been a week of milestones. Steen and I had our three year anniversary, Brian loped Bear for the first time, and also today was Bear's 16th birthday.

But after Brian loped his horse it seemed I should really lope mine as well. So Steen and I practiced our transitions. He is great at picking up the lope, not so great at returning from a lope into anything other than a jack-hammer trot. He was pretty good, though definitely got excited and after loping was inclined to prance. I can't really blame him, though. I still just haven't worked his lope like I have his trot. And it was really fun anyway.

In total, we rode for just over an hour. After the ride, Bear got an apple core for his birthday. Unfortunately he had to share with his pushy brother. Apples might actually be the only food Steen genuinely cares about. I should try to remember to give him one from time to time.

Horseback hours YTD: 17:25

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