Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pre-Vacation Ride

We stopped at the barn on our way out of town for a "quick" ride. I knew I should probably revert back to the snaffle and give myself a chance to learn a bit more about the hackamore, but when I saw the beautiful set-up hanging in my locker, I couldn't resist. So I put the hackamore on Steen but took the bridle with me as well. We retired to the strip, and things started out pretty good. Steen was feeling a bit stiff, but not like the previous ride. I thought maybe we could work through it. I worked on loose figure-eights and various other non-demanding exercises, but after a while I started to feel it. Steen was getting more stiff, not less.

At that point I tried some bending exercises, which backfired entirely. The problem is that I am not familiar enough with the feel of the hackamore to know if Steen's not bending because I'm not asking him right, because he doesn't understand, or because he's choosing to ignore me.

So I hopped off and slipped Steen's bridle on. I expected things to repair themselves at that point, but actually they continued to go downhill. We loped for a while, which started off ok but then started to feel chargy. Then Steen slipped on some manure and I stopped him. After that, bizarrely, Steen decided he wasn't going to go backwards. At all. It didn't matter if I picked up pressure and held it and waited. It didn't matter if I jumped him out then asked him to back. I finally got off and did all sorts of work from the ground, making him yield to the slobber strap. He was pretty bad about that too, but I got him limbered up and got back on, thinking that would solve things. It didn't. It took another half hour of riding and working on various things to even get him to a point that I felt it was acceptable to stop.

But in spite of the highly mediocre ride, I left feeling ok about things. I knew I was pushing it putting the hackamore on him, but still think it was well worth it. I know how the hackamore feels now, and I feel I have a better understanding of what I need to do with Steen to prepare him for our next step.

Ride Time: 1:10
Horseback hours YTD: 95:25


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