Friday, April 20, 2012

Warning: Horse Will Make You Ride

I couldn't think of a title for this post, so I found an online generator to do the job.

It was a little damp and chilly today and we were tired. It's so easy not to go to the barn after a long week at work. But we rallied and headed out. We tromped out to the big pasture. The herd saw us coming and a few of them drifted in our direction. Both Bear and Steen came towards us from a long way off. Then Steen decided walking was too slow, and trotted up to meet me. That made me glad we went right off.


We rode indoors. It was one of those where the time just flies. The first time I thought to wonder how long we'd been on, we were 45 minutes in. I used to have trouble finding anything to do in the indoor. I remember years ago I'd be lucky if I got half an hour. Now I always have plenty to work on.

Steen was fantastic. We made some progress with leg-yields and backing circles. Both these exercises function fundamentally different in the hackamore. Steen's used to yielding to the direct pressure of the snaffle, and now I'm asking him to do the same thing while yielding to the indirect pressure of the bosal instead, which is applied on the other side of his face. So it's a big adjustment for him. I'm going slow and trying to help him figure it out.

One interesting change I've noticed in Steen lately is when I ask him to do something he doesn't understand, or when I correct him, he doesn't take it personally and get all agitated like he used to. If it's a correction, it's usually because he's gotten distracted, and he totally looks like the kid who gets caught staring out the window in school. When I say "pay attention" he's like, "oh yeah, my bad."

When I'm asking him for something he doesn't understand, he just keeps trying. Sometimes he can actually be pretty funny about this. Today when I was trying to get him to dip his head to the outside and move in a backwards circle, he'd come up with the wrong solution and I'd ask him to try again. He'd just start firing off one thing after another. A couple of times he rattled off five or six responses he's learned to other things in a row, in this cool, deliberate manner. (Step under behind? No? How about flex? Maybe step over in front? Stop and tuck?) Some of them were completely counter-intuitive (in my opinion). It was entertaining.

We had some more good loping. He still has a tendency to be straight in the turns, so I worked on reminding him to bend with my legs. We returned to a loping exercise I tried a few months ago which involves loping one lap, stopping, changing direction, and loping off again in the other direction. Last time I tried this, Steen would get really keyed up after a few laps and got prancy and chargy. Today he was great. He was nailing the stops. I'm asking him to hurry a little now that we're getting better at yielding the forequarters. We had a few times where we stopped hard, stepped the front around 180 degrees and made a perfect departure right into the lope. So fun!

At the very end of our ride, we had one last lope, and did our first simple lead-change in the hackmore. It went off without a hitch. We cut through the middle, I adjusted my seat and asked Steen to slow down. He trotted for one beat, and then I pushed him back into the lope on the new lead. We went around the arena one more time, stopped, and I hopped off. I'm all about ending a ride on a high note.

Ride Time: 1:15
Horseback hours YTD: 41:45

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