Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rotating Mounts

We haven't had a day where we've worked with all three horses for a while, but today it was just beautiful out, so we figured it was a good day to spend loads of time at the barn.

Also in our chatting recently we've realized it has been AGES since I rode Bear. I've certainly never ridden him in the hackamore, and I don't think I've even had a real go at riding him since we went to our first Buck clinic and made a lot of serious changes to the way we ride.

So today we decided I would start the ride on Bear and Brian would start on Steen. We'd ride for a while, then I'd switch to Steen and Brian would ride Laredo.

It was funny tacking and grooming Bear. Bear is such a solid horse. Although he is shorter than Steen, he is bigger in terms of mass, and he's so quiet and immobile. Steen isn't the antsy guy he used to be, but the difference between the way they feel just to be around and handle is still considerable.

We got out to the strip and hopped on. I was riding in my saddle but Brian's hackamore. I also was riding in some new stirrups, which are leather-lined wood wrapped in stainless steel. I rode in them yesterday, and ended up shortening my stirrups. Today they still felt long. On Bear, I was having trouble getting everything situated correctly. As soon as I started trotting, the stirrups started causing problems. I am almost afraid they are too big for me. I felt like they were jouncing around on my foot, and at one point loping up the strip I nearly lost one.

But on the bright side, Bear has made enormous progress since I last rode him. He was unexpectedly soft to the hackamore, and we did a lot of good slow movements, like backing and yielding the forequarters.

What we had more trouble with was anything that involved forward motion. Bear was completely obsessed with Brian, and no matter where we were or what we were doing, he wanted to get closer to Brian. If we were going away from Brian, he was half-weaving every step, trying to find  a way to turn around. The only times we had any real propulsion was when we were walking directly towards Brian.

So between that and the stirrups, it wasn't quite the ride I had hoped. After about 45 minutes I did hop down and swap out my new stirrups for my old ones. After that things went a little better. I worked on trying to get Bear's attention through being soft but relentless, and started to see some results.

After an hour on Bear, I switched to Steen. He was all nicely warmed up from Brian riding him, and we had a great ride. We worked more on breaking at the poll when turning, and collecting at all gaits. At one point Brian (who was on Laredo at this point) and I did an exercise where we went in a circle, trotting half, then walking half. This was challenging for Laredo, but after a while I started doing different things with Steen to make it more interesting. For a while we worked on loping half the circle, then walking half the circle. We got some nice transitions both up and down. But he stared to feel pretty tired, so we switched to doing an extended trot for half the circle and a collected trot for the other half. That went really well.

Meanwhile Brian was having a fabulous ride on Laredo. We came home feeling like all three horses got some good time put in on them.

Ride Time: 1:50
Horseback hours YTD: 98:00

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