Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And More Cows

Pretend cows, that is. Today some ride plans fell through, and Brian and I found ourselves trying to decide if we wanted to hit the trails alone. I was riding Steen and he was riding Bear, so we could have gone out and about. But we also wanted to have a day where we swapped horses and rode all three, so we opted to stay near the barn, but to play cow.

We learned about playing cow a long time ago, but for a long time utterly lacked the skills to do it. It basically involves one horse and rider trying to get to the "herd", and the other horse and rider trying to stay in their way. The "cow" must behave in a cow-like fashion. (Brian has a more detailed explanation here.) The two horses and riders circle the "herd" until the "cow" either outmaneuvers the "horse" or runs out of time.

We set out three large cones to serve as a herd, and gave it a try. From the start it went much better than the last times we tried to play. Steen, Bear, Brian and I are all significantly more adept at stopping, backing half a circle, and jumping off in the other direction. We're still far from consistent/graceful at it, but we were fairly evenly matched. We both had some good wins as the cow. We both got schooled a few times by the horse. Before long we were chasing each other around at the lope in the relatively narrow area available on the strip. All four of us were totally comfortable with this. It made me realized how far we've come with control and precision. Once I charged in front of Brian and Bear, which was definitely non-cowlike behavior, and once Bear broke the rules and pinned his ears and played the dominance card on Steen, thus moving the "horse" in a non-realistic manner, but for the most part it was an easy and entertaining way to work on some basic moves.

After my ride on Steen, I grabbed Laredo from the pasture. We had a demanding ride. I started with more work leading, really making him wake up and get some energy in his responses to me before I ever mounted. I loped early in the ride, and he was far faster than last time I loped him. I was pleased to discover though that when he started veering it only took light pressure on one rein and some leg to straighten him back out.


We also worked on backing circles around each other and playing Cow "Lite," which meant Laredo and I stuck to the walk and trot and Brian and Steen were nice enough to pace their stops and turns to match ours so we didn't get left in the dust constantly. This was a lot of new, demanding stuff for Laredo, but he took it in stride.

It was also neat to see Brian having such a great ride on Steen. I've never seen the two of them look so relaxed and accomplished, and to see Steen tucking his head and engaging his haunches and scooting around me was pretty neat. I don't usually get to see him from that angle.

At the very end of the ride I wanted to work on something a little softer, so we just walked around the strip for a while getting the soft feel. Then I decided to ask for a little bit of lateral movement. After a step or two, Laredo gave me a little step across. It was tiny, but tiny is a start.


Ride Time: 1:40
Horseback hours YTD: 111:00

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