Saturday, December 31, 2011

And the Winner Is

It was a great year for us and horses. In February I was giving Brian lessons and trying to help him get comfortable on Bear. In December I got to see him climb on a strange horse and get nothing but compliments riding in a totally new environment. In between, I kept track of my hours in the saddle, which is something I'd never done before and actually is all thanks to Brian. It never occurred to me to keep a log before he got the idea.

Today we rode indoors to avoid crazy winds. It was again warm and Steen was again sluggish. It's so hard for me to pinpoint what exactly is different about him when he's too hot. He does everything I ask. He doesn't refuse to accelerate or try to drop the trot or the lope. He doesn't get stiff or ignore me. He just doesn't feel lively, and it kind of drives me crazy. So I loped early on, trying to wake him up a bit. Ultimately I think this strategy back-fired though. He's pretty relaxed about loping indoors these days, and it only made him hotter.

I continued to work on the figure eight pattern I made up earlier in the week and that was perhaps the thing we did the best at. He still was refusing to give me much of a soft feel when moving though, and once or twice I got frustrated with him and pulled a little. When I do that there is an instant stiffening effect. It is amazing how quickly he will still go rigid in the hackamore if I misuse it, but it's a good reminder for me to stay soft even when I'm frustrated.

At the end of the ride we worked on the routine, and that was fun. A couple of times I had to speed Steen's trot up to keep pace with Bear, and he was willing to move out without getting upset about it. So maybe over the next few days I'll focus on revisiting the soft feel and speed variation within the gaits.

After our ride Brian and I came home and added our last ride to our yearly quota, and we thought we'd end up tied or with me a little ahead because I've been gaining about five minutes on him each ride lately since Steen's blanket gives me a head start in grooming. We were wrong though. Brian beat me by five minutes.

I have to say I'm kind of thrilled about this. To have a husband that rides with me is something I am constantly grateful for. To have a husband who rides more than me is something I never even thought to wish for. :)

Ride Time: 1:05
Horseback hours YTD: 109:00

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