Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two More Great Rides

On Tuesday we rode on the strip and on Wednesday we did a little turn around the second strip and the three hills. Both rides were fantastic. The weather has been phenomenal, and Steen has been relaxed and willing.

On Tuesday I worked more on switching between the lope and the walk. After a few one-rein stops, we had a really nice ride. Steen was trying quite hard to do things right. He's also getting pretty funny about stopping from the lope. He's starting to put real effort into it, but he's just not that good at it. I can never be sure how hard he's going to slam on the brakes. I'm sure we've had some moments that would have been laughable to anyone watching. Thankfully, no one was.

On Wednesday Steen was just a complete doll. We walked out to the second strip, did some work on figure-eights at the trot, cruised through the three hills, and trotted back down the second strip. Steen was happy to trot at a mellow pace, but Bear was a bit chargey. Brian kept falling back and doing circles, and Steen was definitely paying a lot of attention to Bear as well as me. When I felt he was too distracted, I'd ask for leg yields and I'd get them. At one point I angled off from Bear and Brian and let Steen lope up a hill. He jumped into the gait the moment I asked and came back down without a fuss.

I really got the sense on Wednesday that Steen was enjoying the ride. This is a pretty major change for us, particularly if you turn the clock back to a few summers ago when I was first taking him out and about. He would literally attempt to turn around and go home every half a dozen steps or so. It was awful. To be able to just sit on his back and point him somewhere, knowing he'll go in the direction I want at the speed I want still feels a little too good to be true.

Of course, we didn't quite make it to the finish line without a little hiccup. This time of year all the manure gets scraped out of the horse's winter lots and spread around the surrounding fields. This includes the strip where we often ride. So as we were heading back to the barn, the previously mellow and compliant Steen was confronted with fairly large hump of hay that had settled near the drainage we use to reach the second strip and was Frankly Terrifying. As we drew closer, he began to breath hard and his ears came up. I asked him for a few soft feels and some leg yields, but as we got closer he started shying and jigging.

I hopped off and led him over to the offending pile of hay and mud. I made him step over it, turn around and walk over it in the other direction. He actually didn't put up a fuss when I asked him to do this. Then I climbed on and made him walk over the pile (which was about as high as his knees) with me on his back. He didn't hesitate. So we loped back up to the top of the strip and called it a day.

Horseback hours YTD: 25:55

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