Friday, May 11, 2012

First Laredo Ride

We gave everyone the day off on Thursday but were keen to head back out today. It was my day to work with Laredo. Catching was even shorter than last time. It only took 11 minutes (half of which was just him running from the big pasture into the winter lot) and I probably could have slipped the halter on faster if I'd been inclined to push it.

We went out with a plan for getting a bridle on Laredo. I took the brow-band and throat-latch off of Steen's snaffle setup and unbuckled it to allow for less ear contact while putting it on. Brian also assisted by holding the reins up and reaching over Laredo's neck from way back while I supported the bit in his mouth. The plan worked quite well and pretty soon we had the headstall buckled and Laredo was ready to go without ever having gotten upset about his ears.

I started with some groundwork, but after a few minutes it felt like getting on was the logical thing to do. I stepped up and down a few times and jiggled the stirrup on the other side. He was not bothered. I swung on, got off, got on again. It was all good.

We flexed a few times before I asked him to move, at which point he walked off quietly. I think he's got a really nice foundation to build on. Clearly he has no anxiety about being ridden, but just as clearly he has a lot to learn. Yielding to the bit, for instance, is a little hit or miss.

But the most interesting thing I discovered when I got up there is he's very braced up on the left side. This is the side on which he's the most reactive about his ears, and when I asked him to bend that way he would do all sorts of things to evade (such as rooting, starting to walk off if we were standing, or stopping if we were walking). I am starting to think his ear issue is a symptom of a greater problem that just has to do with this brace he's got in his neck, and if we can work through the brace the ear problem will dissolve on its own.

Though inconsistent, overall he's quite soft to the bit. A number of times he was over-flexing vertically and getting his feet stuck, and also my way of asking him to back obviously means nothing to him. But what surprised me most is how quiet he is. We went around barrels and balls and past all sorts of strange objects. He just isn't prone to reacting to things, in spite of his youth and inexperience.

After about twenty minutes of working on flexes, short-serpentines, soft feel, stepping under behind and walking in circles, I asked him for a little trot. He picked it up readily enough and we jogged around for a minute or two. My saddle seems to bounce a lot on him. I'm not sure my flared tree is ideal for his super round back and almost no withers. Still, it was nice to feel him move out. And again, he seemed fine with everything.

I should have probably gotten off a few minutes before I did. We hit half an hour and I could see he'd clicked off mentally. Suddenly he wasn't standing very well and was rooting any time I picked up pressure on the bit and overall just having trouble focusing. I got off and worked on more groundwork, and he was actually great with that. He was softer both backing up and going forward, and quite willing to pay attention and try.

After the ride I untacked him by the locker and he's already willing to stand with the lead rope tossed around his neck like our other guys do. Unbelievable. I would never have thought such a youngster could be so quiet.

The only slightly sad thing was we left Steen in the pasture. He stood at the fence and called to us while we were tacking. Poor guy. I told him I'd ride him tomorrow.

Ride Time: 0:30
Horseback hours YTD: 51:35

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