Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Few Good Rides

It's been hot, but my sister has been visiting and that has provided extra motivation to get out to the barn even on days I would not normally go. She arrived on Saturday, and we headed out in the afternoon. She rode both horses and they both gave her a bit of a hard time at first. Bear tried all his normal rather passive, grouchy games and it took Meryl a good 30 minutes, but she worked on him until he simply gave up and turned into angel Bear.

In the meantime, I had a pretty good ride on Steen. He was a bit excitable, but we got some good trotting and loping in.


When Meryl was done on Bear, she hopped on Steen, who immediately picked up the lope and ran down the strip. I'm not sure what got into him.

Luckily Meryl is a very experienced rider and their antics did not put her off. On Monday she and I headed out alone and had a brief, sweltering, but positive ride in the outdoor arena. Both Bear and Steen were pretty much perfect for her, but we didn't ride long due to the heat.

Yesterday we made more of an effort to get to the barn early, but it just never cooled down in the night so it was hot anyway. We decided to ride in the stall horse pasture that is fairly full of large, shady trees. Brian and I have talked about riding over there before, but never actually done it. Meryl and I tacked up, closed the gate so we didn't have any unplanned equine company while riding, and lead the horses around a bit so they could get their bearings before we mounted. Neither of them displayed any nerves at the new location. We mounted up and walked around a bit, and Bear started picking up the trot and being a tad difficult. Meryl worked with him for a while and saw some progress, so we then decided to try "the routine." The routine is something Meryl and I loved to work on back when I lived in Arizona and we had two rideable horses at home. It is basically a simple pattern we concocted at some point, done in unison, that involves mainly keeping the two horses at the same pace while working through a series of loops, cross-overs and straightaways. We used  to do it in the huge arena in the meadow down the road from my parent's house and we had enough space and steady enough horses that we'd do it mostly at the lope and gallop, with a bit of trotting thrown in here and there.

Steen and Bear have never done the routine before, and Meryl and I honestly had some trouble remembering it. Also we weren't in an arena. We tried it at the trot, and our first attempt was truly laughable. Bear was doing his sideways trotting thing. Steen was nervous about having to stay next to Bear. It didn't look like we were trying to do anything in unison.

We kept at it, and things improved the second time. And by the third time Bear had learned the pattern and figured out he was supposed to stay parallel with Steen. He was also really into it. Bear seems to be the sort of horse that loves to have a job.

It was much, much nicer being able to ride among the trees so that we stop and rest in the shade, but it was still really hot so we didn't ride for too long. We worked on the routine until we could do the whole thing pretty nicely at the trot, and Bear was so proud of himself we couldn't stop laughing at him. Meryl rode Steen a bit more at the end of the ride, and he was great for her. In spite of the heat, it was loads of fun. Riding with my sister is truly one of my favorite things.


Horseback hours YTD: 47:00

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