Saturday, September 01, 2012

Like Magic

After way too long a break to suit my preference, I finally made it back to the barn today. I was in a bit of quandary deciding what horse to ride. Brian was going to ride Bear, so that left me with my pick of the other two. At first I was leaning towards Steen (cuz I miss him) but Brian has had some great rides on Laredo and I was curious to see how he was going. So I decided to go with the youngster.

I have to say the, the benefit of sharing the training load with someone else is you only have to do half the work. I know Brian has been out there putting time in with Laredo, but to me it seemed like he magically morphed into a more accomplished horse during my absence. He came to me in the pasture, was great for grooming, and went through all our groundwork without a problem. I mounted and we started riding around.

I have often been struck at the very start of a ride on Laredo at how responsive he can be to the legs. And I mean this in a good way -- a steering way as opposed to an agitated way. This ride he felt like that, but while  in the past this level of focus has faded after ten minutes or so, today it stuck around the whole ride. First we walked around, and he went through one period of wanting to walk off down the strip and ignore me. He picked up the trot, so I went with it and we worked on circles and figure-eights until he was a little tired. Then we trotted a bit more, and stopped. I gave him some pets and we went back to walking. After that, he was equally if not more attentive to my legs as he'd been at the start of the ride. The whole ride he never checked out on me, never leaned on the bit, never made a serious bid for going somewhere other than where I was pointing him. He wasn't perfect, but he's starting to feel like a horse that knows a few things. It's great.

Brian and I spent the middle part of the ride working on our circle/transition exercise. My first circle on Laredo was mediocre, but it got better every time. When we switched directions it degraded again, but once again things improved with each lap. At times when Laredo started to bend the wrong way, I would pick up a rein to correct him and he'd correct himself before I could ever get to the point of putting pressure on the bit.

After we were done with the exercise, I thought a walk out into the fields would be nice. Laredo loves exploring, and I thought it would be a good reward for his great attitude. We walked through the drainage into the second strip, and Laredo just trucked along like a champ. And although he was interested and curious, he never stopped listening to my legs. The couple of times I asked for a soft feel though, I had to make him stop before I could get one. But that's ok. We'll get there before too long, I'm sure.

As we headed back up to the strip I scooted him into a trot. We reached the strip and I tried to turn him back towards the barn and he surprised me by turning sharp and hard and trying to go back down the drainage. Apparently Laredo is a bit fan of the trail rides.

After our ride, we hung out to let the guys graze. Laredo was highly skeptical about whether or not he could eat grass with a bit in his mouth. I tried to encourage him, but he never got that into it. He was way more inclined to sniff my boots or legs or head than eat grass. Silly kid.

Back at the hitching post he was standing there looking all mature and sophisticated. His winter coat is just barely starting to come in, which is making his dun factor markings more obvious. The light wasn't great for a photo, but you can see the streaking on his shoulder and the stripes on his legs.

Ride Time: 0:55
Horseback hours YTD: 104:50

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