Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rides and Visitors and Trims

We've had a few interesting rides last week.


I rode Steen and Brian rode Laredo. My ride was fabulous.

Brian's was difficult.

We think Laredo was fatigued, both mentally and physically, and he was inclined towards distraction, jumping into the trot, and rooting.


I rode Laredo in the outdoor arena. His two days off seemed to have helped him reset, and things went quite well for us. My number one goal for the ride was to be light. Laredo is a bit of a leaner, and any time you try to get him to do something by pulling, he just leans into your pressure. I spent the day asking for things as softly as I could and just waiting. By the end of the ride he was giving to light pressure on the bit, and rooting and leaning had decreased a good deal.


My cousin Matt was in town with his girlfriend Ariana. We took them out to barn, of course. Matt is allergic to horses, but Ariana was up for a spin, so we put her on Bear. After a quick lesson she was ready to explore the outdoor arena. I kept her company on Steen and the two of us rode around for a while.

Bear was good for her. Although it is funny. As we continue to refine the way our guys are trained, it's getting harder for other people to just climb on and ride them. So much of how we ride now comes down to the seat, and really using the seat is a concept that is a bit beyond most brand new riders. There were a couple of times Ariana was making every effort to do what we had told her to do, but her seat and hips would be saying, "stand here" and her legs would be saying, "go" and Bear would opt to stand.

She wasn't comfortable with the idea of trying to trot on Bear on her own, so we had her hop down and tossed her up on Steen. Steen has the smoothest trot in the world and he's great at  following my instructions on the line. I held the end of his mecate and had him trot around in circles while Ariana rode. She had a lot of fun with that.

And I was so proud of Steen. He was perfectly behaved during the trotting. And he also taught Ariana to pick hooves and use various grooming implements before the ride. It's nice to feel our horses are completely beginner friendly and safe on the ground, at least.


We were tired, and almost didn't make it out to the barn. Eventually we motivated ourselves by deciding to do something a little different and ride in the tree pasture. We hadn't ridden out there in ages and have never taken Laredo out there at all.

Things went ok. Brian rode Laredo, and his ride started out not great but ended with some really awesome progress. Steen was distracted. A lot of the barn horses were gone at a show, and one of the left-behind horses was unhappily stuck in a stall and just kept calling and calling. This sort of thing upsets Steen, and while he didn't do anything "bad," it just wasn't the caliber of ride we've been enjoying lately.

I tried to use the trees to my advantage and we worked on a lot of trotting around the trunks, sometimes collected, sometimes not.

At times he got super soft and responsive. At others he'd get mouthy and distracted. But for the most part things were pretty ok.

At the end things were going well enough at the trot I did a little loping.

That was great going in one direction, but when I switched to the other I didn't trot enough in between and he was all over the place. I went back to trotting until we were rebalanced, and then was ready to call it a day. We headed back towards the barn. When we got near the gate out of the tree lot, Steen started to get antsy and focused on the end of the ride. So I didn't get off. Instead I did whirly-gigs. He was upset about these at first, and when I'd ask him for the hind he'd shoot his back legs out from under himself and give me several rapid, sloppy disengages with no collection or balance. So I kept asking until he came up with something better. Finally he sighed and dropped his head and started paying attention again. I got a couple good whirly-gigs, got off and opened the gate.


It was Duke Day. We got to the barn early to ride Laredo and Bear before the trim to maximize the chances for a good experience for all involved. There was a lot of activity at the barn. We rode on the strip, and Laredo was distracted. I'd get him to focus for a minute and then a horse would call or a car would drive up and his attention would wander off. It didn't help we left Steen in a side lot and as other horses came and went and got agitated about being separated from their buddies, Steen got upset. He started charging around and calling, and this got Laredo a little worried at times.

I tried to stay patient and consistent, but the ride was pretty mediocre. I took a break for groundwork in the middle. After I re-mounted things were better for about three minutes, then he got distracted again.

However, after the ride Laredo was awesome for Duke and his feet got a thumbs up, so that was great. Steen also calmed down the moment we were nearby again, and he was fabulous for Duke.

There's a good chance Laredo is going to be tender with his toes all trimmed down again, so we'll give him a couple days off and then see how he's doing.

Horseback hours YTD: 73:20

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