Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Best Ever?

It is possible that today I had the best ride on Steen I've ever had. I took my own ThinLine pad to the barn today. It's a western cut instead of english, so it fit a bit better with my tack from the start. We tacked up and I led Steen to the strip, where we did a bit more work on side-passing before I mounted. I climbed on and Steen was wonderful from the start. The first five minutes, in fact, I got a glimpse of what it must be like to ride a truly well-trained horse. Steen was walking on a loose rein and he was completely attentive. I turned him in circles by thinking about turning - not by even going to far as using my hands or legs. All it took was a little shifting in my sit bones and shoulders.

We changed directions and distractions interfered and Steen's behavior devolved from perfect to really good. We worked on trotting figure-eights and circles, and Steen was trotting nicely and not giving me the lazy bending he has the last few rides. Eventually I pushed him into a lope and for the first time ever he was actually loping willingly in a circle. He wasn't stiff on one side. He wasn't digging into the corners. He was soft and collected and felt strong and happy to be moving. When I said "trot" he trotted. When I stopped him, he stood. When I asked him to walk, he pranced but only for a second. Then he did walk.

The whole ride was like that. And it was awesome. We walked, trotted and loped all over the strip and Steen's behavior was borderline wonderful the entire time. The weather was also perfect -- sunny, in the 70's and just the right amount of breeze.

Of course, if I know one thing about horses it's that steps forward are inevitably followed by steps back. I am sure Steen and I have plenty more frustrations ahead of us. But even getting a glimmer of the horse I might end up with at the end of all this hard work is pretty rewarding.

Horseback hours YTD: 45:30

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