Sunday, April 29, 2012

Borrowing Lightfoot

When my sister and I lived in the same state, we rode together a lot. And even since I moved to Iowa and got Steen, she's played a roll in my relationship with him. She visited shortly after I got Steen in 2008 and witnessed the one and only time Steen has ever thrown me. She then helped me teach him that bucking is not an acceptable behavior by riding him the next day, and shutting him down when he tried his new trick on her.

Since then, her encounters with Steen have been more sedate. She's visited once a year, and each time Steen has been better behaved for her.

This year I've been looking forward to her visit for a number of reasons. First, I'm quite excited to show her what I've changed about the way I ride since we went to the Buck clinic last summer. Second, I talked to my barn owner and she loaned us her "spare" horse, a (solid) Paint named Lightfoot. Brian, Meryl and I have never been on horseback together before.

Today we mostly just wanted to give Meryl and Lightfoot a chance to get to know each other. Bear's back is still a bit tender, so we just tacked up and adjourned to the strip to have an easy ride.

I felt a little rusty after four days off, and Steen was initially just a little distracted by the new horse and rider. He shaped right up though, and before long we were cruising around in the hackmore.

Brian had a very minimal, slow ride, so Meryl and I worked on the routine a little. That ended up being mostly just comical, as Lightfoot clearly wasn't catching on. Also, Lightfoot is HUGE. I'm not used to being the one on the short horse.


We rode for about an hour, and at the end Meryl and I had a few very nice lopes up the strip together.


Steen was an absolute champ for these. In spite of the fact that we were running towards the barn, and we were being chased by another horse, he never got antsy or goey. He was happy to run and happy to stop as well.

After an hour outside, went inside and Meryl climbed on Steen. She then did a very good job changing gears completely. I gave her a crash course in basic hackamore use. Both she and Steen were just a tad unsure starting out. He picked up the trot on her a few times, but I showed her how to keep her calves in touch with him so he doesn't start to feel insecure, and after a few minutes they were cruising around beautifully. It was actually really neat to see them adjust to one another. The last few times I've had a different rider on Steen, he's gotten more nervous and unhappy the longer they stay on. But today things went in the opposite direction. Meryl had him walking and trotting some nice circles and figure-eights in no time.

Tomorrow we'll go out again and I'm going to give her a more thorough lesson on Steen while Brian is at work. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Ride Time: 1:00
Horseback hours YTD: 46:30

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