Sunday, September 02, 2012

Remedial Right Turns

Today I was happy to put Steen's halter on and lead him in. As much as I had a great ride on Laredo yesterday, my comfort level with Steen at this point is like nothing I've ever experienced with another horse. All his movements and behaviors are so familiar, being around him feels completely natural.

Out on the strip, I did a little groundwork. He's following a feel so well now our groundwork is starting to feel more like a dance than me moving him. It was quite a contrast from all the work I had to do to get Jak going a few days ago. It's always so fascinating to work with a different horse and then come back to your own.

Once aboard, I started with circles to the right. I noticed a few rides ago that Steen does not bend to the right very well, and that my left leg feels strained and uncomfortable when I use it to try to move his front end over for more than a moment. So I've decided every ride will include many minutes of working on bending to the right until we're both better at it.

Today I started out paying a lot of attention to my seat and legs. After several circles the strain started to build in my hip, so I tried to adjust my position to make myself more comfortable. I leaned back over my left hip a bit more and suddenly Steen bent to the right. I thought about how I was sitting and realized with some dismay that I apparently have a tendency to ride always with slightly more weight on my right side. This puts my left leg in a slightly compromised position (hence the strained feeling) and also blocks Steen's ability to bring that shoulder through.

One of the benefits of working with Laredo is that he's has been relatively slow to learn to give to the bit, and much faster to learn to respond to legs. This means when I ride Laredo, I use my legs a lot, which in turn makes me use my legs more on Steen. Lately I feel like I'm finally being fluid and effective with my legs and my seat in a way I've always wanted to be before, but never really was. This final epiphany about where my weight really was felt like a missing link snapping into a chain. I shifted my weight just the teeniest slightest bit so my hips were even, and from there our right turns were better. I won't say they were perfect, but the change was noticeable.

So Steen and I trotted around, working on circles and figure-eights. Every now and then I loped him off down the strip or in a circle. He had a lot of energy and power in his lope today. And while a few months ago I would have worried about him getting over-excited and running off with me, today it was only fun. I even found myself laughing as I went with him. Once he was a bit stiff stopping from the lope, so the next time I doubled him into the stop. After that he was much more attentive and once I sat deep in preparation for asking for the stop and he slammed on the brakes before I even had a chance to pick up on the hackamore. Good boy.

Brian and I also worked on our walk-trot transitions exercise, and I worked on holding collection through upwards transitions. This went ok, but is definitely something I need to practice more. After a while Steen started to feel a little dull, so instead of trotting I loped half the circle.

I have to say, overall the ride was very good, and something about it felt different. Perhaps it was just that I was in such a relaxed, happy mood, or perhaps it was because I was using my legs so much, but Steen's attention stayed on me the whole ride (just like Laredo's did yesterday). He never once tried to push off towards some place he'd rather be, or varied his speed depending on which direction we were going. It was great.

After a final lope up the strip, I hopped off and took some pictures of Brian riding. I let Steen graze, but he doesn't appear to like the feel of chewing in the bosal.

But he was happy enough to hang out and try to get used to it while Brian and Laredo trotted around a bit more.

Although Laredo was not at all convinced the situation was really very fair.

Ride Time: 0:55
Horseback hours YTD: 105:45

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