Monday, July 23, 2012

The Third Ride

Brian has spend several more hours in the saddle than me this year, and he's on better track for our riding goal too, so I need to catch up a little. Plus, I rode Steen on Saturday and Sunday, and I wanted to ride him again today. It seems to me working a horse three days in a row does something in terms of momentum. It just gets them going in a way they don't seem to if they get a day off after one or two rides. With the way Brian and I have been trading off on Laredo, I haven't had a chance to ride Steen three days in a row in quite some time.  

So today I decided to hit the barn alone. When Brian went to work, I went off for a ride.

We rode on the strip again, and I began with more work without my hands. Things started better than last time, and improved rapidly. Within eight minutes, I had completed several figure-eights with no corrections at all.

There's an interesting bi-product I've noticed to truly setting the reins down all the way and either crossing my arms in front of my chest or letting them rest on my thighs. It changes my balance. I find I'm more inclined to sit with my shoulders open and back, and I'm more aware of the large muscles in my seat and thighs in terms of how they contribute to my ability to steer.

We moved from no-handed riding to work at the trot. We worked more on leg-yielding and saw some improvement. Then we worked on trotting circles, and when things were going well I pointed Steen down the strip and loped him straight for a while. Then I brought him down to the trot, trotting a nice circle and loped back up to the top. Several times we repeated this sequence, and once or twice I was able to get all the transitions with no hands. Towards the end we were coming back up the fence on the left lead, so I swung out and pushed Steen into a left circle, and this felt much more balanced than our lopes last ride. I collected him a tad and pushed him into a deeper bend. He rocked back and gave me a nice short circle. Nothing too impressive, but a good effort, particularly considering his height.

We did some circles going the other way, and they were also good. Then we went back to walking with no hands for a cool-down. This was perhaps the most amazing part of the ride. Steen was just with me. I didn't do a pattern, we just walked. I did shallow zig-zags, short circles, straight lines and finally stopped and backed with no hands. Very exciting.

So I feel good about our progress. My hope is before too long this exercise will help us finally cement things so we have basics working with just seat and legs. That should prime us for moving into more advanced collected maneuvers, and holding collection for longer periods of time.

Ride Time: 0:40
Horseback hours YTD: 86:00

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