Thursday, September 22, 2011

Soft to the Touch

Yesterday was another great ride. Steen's starting to put on his winter coat, so he's turned nice and dark dappled brown and is way softer than usual. Yesterday he was also soft to the bit. We had more great groundwork before the ride. He was yielding to backwards pressure on the slobber strap before I ever got to his mouth, and we worked on turning while backing as well. Then we worked on yielding the hindquarters and forequarters separately. This is something I'd done a fair of before but had never honestly seen the point of. One great thing about Buck's clinic was it helped me connect little points like this to the ultimate goal of having a super broke horse.

I mounted and the ride was great. We kept up with all the things we've been working on, plus I added some yielding of the hindquarters and forequarters separately under saddle. Steen is good at this in the back, but I'd never had any luck with getting him to yield his forequarters. At the clinic I learned this was because I never prepared him properly by rolling his weight back onto his haunches before asking. Once I incorporated that key element, Steen was more than willing to try. I even got him to the point that he would take consecutive steps around with his forelegs without moving his back legs at all. He even seemed to be enjoying the challenge of working out what I was asking.

In between the detail stuff, we had a lot of nice riding. As the ride went on Steen just grew softer and more focused. I dismounted again in the middle to do more groundwork, and then rode for quite a while longer. We had great walks, trots and lopes interspersed with a lot of standing, flexing, short-serpentines and giving at the poll.

By the end of the ride, Steen had never once attempted to change gaits without me asking him to. After standing around talking for a few minutes, Brian and I decided we were done and I asked Steen to walk away from Bear so I could ride down and open the gate to let the herd back into the pasture we'd ridden in. This was the only time he got a little pissy. I could feel him thinking about picking up the trot, and I must admit I gave him just a little touch on the mouth with the reins. He calmed down, and by the time we reached the gate he was walking quietly again.

Ride Time: 1:10
Horseback hours YTD: 69:50

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