Thursday, July 07, 2011

Steen vs. The Floaty Thingies

It was pretty hot by the time we managed to get to the barn today, so we decided to tack up indoors to stay in the shade for a while. We also decided to park the boys right next to our tack locker because the barn was quiet and there is a spot to tie Bear. Steen's actually as good or better standing untied as he is standing tied, so he'll usually just chill while we groom and tack.

Today was no exception, until all of a sudden Steen just started freaking out. He was looking past Bear and out the open barn door and he went from standing and dozing to snorting, trying to run away and swiveling all over the place in roughly half a second. I gave him a moment but he did not calm down and for a while we were mystified as to what was setting him off. Until I took a closer look out the door and saw there were new yellow floaty thingies in the above-ground pool, drifting around like the horse-eating monsters they so clearly are.

I made Steen do some backing and coming forward until he was at least no longer about to bolt, then Brian held him for me while I finished with his feet. I put his bridle on and we headed outside, where I did a bit of groundwork on the mecate before mounting. Steen was good with the groundwork, but fidgety as I settled into the saddle. I was borrowing Cathi's pad again. I let Steen stand until he was relaxed, then we started out with walking up and down the strip. When we get to the end of the area we usually ride in, Steen has a bit of tendency to want to turn tightly and trot back, so each time we got to the part where he wanted to turn around, I asked him to stop and flex a few times. Once he was standing quietly, we'd turn back. If he picked up the trot on the way back, we turned around again and walked in the other direction. This exercise seemed to work quite well as far as getting Steen to focus. He was better with the walking than he's been in a while. Then we moved up to the trot, and I'd make him walk back for a while until I asked for the trot. For the most part his trot was slow and relaxed, though sometimes he'd pick it up fast and keep it there until I checked him a bit.

After straight lines we worked on figures eights, and these were very good. I was getting nice round turns out of Steen. I got some new stirrups that are nice and wide like the ones that were on my Abetta and I can really tell a difference in my ability to relax my leg and sit correctly.

Finally, after a brief standing-around session with Bear and Brian, we loped. Steen felt good at the lope. He was still stiff and resistant when turning away from the herd, but he felt quite balanced and collected -- not doing nearly as much leaning and digging as he has lately.

Then we called it quits, and the barn had gotten busy during our ride so we led the boys to the outdoor tacking area. Steen once again had a fairly sizable meltdown about the floaty thingies. I got him past them, tied him up, groomed him (no dry spots again!) and he was still eyeing them and snorting.


I decided only a close-up encounter was going to do the trick. It took some coaxing, but eventually Steen conceded the point. They are not just not that scary.


While all this was going on, Brian was decking Bear out in some new fly boots. We put them both back in the pasture, and Steen rolled, and flipped himself all the way over. I'd never seen him do that before (and I've seen him roll a lot). I think he's getting in better shape from all the loping.

So all in all it was a rather  unorthodox day at the barn, and yet I had a pretty great ride. :)

Horseback hours YTD: 42:45

2 comments:

  1. Congrats on Steen rolling all the way over. Seems such a silly thing to be excited about, but oh well.

    Horses and their seemingly random fears are always amusing. Hooray for conquering the scary floaty things. :)

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  2. :) Yeah, I don't know why it feels like an accomplishment your horse manages to roll all the way over. But it has always bothered me a bit that Steen never could. Funny stuff.

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