Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bear Time

Steen Update: The sunburn is much better. The leg is making progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

Today, I rode Bear. I don't ride Bear very often. When we first got him, I only rode him when Brian was having some kind of trouble with him. Since that has stopped happening, I've more less stopped riding him. It's not that I don't like Bear, it's just that, well, I ride Steen.

But having Laredo has helped me become more flexible about switching horses. And although Brian has been very gracious about letting me hog our youngster while Steen heals, I thought it might be fun to change things up a bit. So today I suggested we do a swap.

The last time I rode Bear, things didn't go great. They weren't bad, Bear was just super duper focused on Brian, and wanting to be near Brian, and not so inclined to give me much movement that wasn't getting him closer to Brian. I wasn't prepared for that, and as a result didn't handle it as well as I probably could have.

This time though, I was prepared. I was prepared to do everything I could to make sure Bear had a good experience with me. I was prepared to be soft and consistent and understanding. Because the funny thing about Bear is although he was a bit checked out and unresponsive when we got him, he's not that way now.

Allow me a moment to brag about my husband. Four years ago, he'd been on a horse once or twice. Two years ago we bought him a kinda run down, kinda old, kinda fat Quarter Horse gelding we figured wouldn't get him into too much trouble. And what does Brian do? He goes ahead and not only becomes a great rider, he retrains that old Quarter Horse and turns him into a soft, attentive mount.

Ironically, Bear had a good deal more get-up and go today than Laredo did. I rode him in the hackamore, and he was lighter than I've ever felt before, both on the ground and under saddle. When I got on, he did want to veer towards Brian, but instead of getting mad at him for this, I corrected him and blocked him in the softest manner I could manage, reassuring him every now and then with a pet on the neck or shoulder.

It's interesting. Brian and I have known for a long time Steen gets nervous when other people ride him, and this affects his behavior. But it took us a long time to realize Bear's veering and inattention are just different symptoms of the same kind of insecurity. So my job today was to make sure Bear and I both enjoyed the ride.

And it worked. Over the course of the hour, Bear really settled in. I was surprised at how quickly he would move out, or pick up the trot or lope. We worked on all the basics, but I didn't drill anything.

The only part of the ride I'm not sure Bear enjoyed was the loping. His back has been a bit tight again, so he was a bit inclined to cut in on the circle at the lope. I didn't push him, but after I stopped he had a few minutes of being more focused on Brian than he had been for most of the ride.

We decided to cool down with a loop around the bean field. Bear is a relaxing horse to ride out on. He's so quiet and solid.

All in all, it was a really good ride. Definitely the best I've ever had on Bear. I'm going to try to get in the habit of riding him a little more regularly.

Ride Time: 1:00
Horseback hours YTD: 121:15

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