Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Return to the Trees

One of the peculiarities about where we board is that (other than the indoor arena) there is nowhere that's guaranteed to be available to ride in any given day. There are plenty of places you can usually ride, but between moving herds, changing seasons, farm equipment, and various other factors, if you want to ride outside you have to be flexible.

This used to be hard on me. I'd go out expecting to ride on the strip only to find it had a planter parked right in the middle of it. Or I'd have decided to use the outdoor arena only to see it was occupied by a sick horse. I'd have to shift gears and figure out something else to do, which I found stressful.

The good thing is there is always somewhere to ride, so it's just a matter of being adaptable. Over time, being forced to change plans so frequently has made us more inclined to change things up on our own. Today Brian noted as we were tacking that the stall herd is out of the tree pasture for the moment and perhaps we should ride out there.

I like riding the tree pasture, and it was a warm day so the shade would be welcome. I had been planning on loping Laredo a little but mentally concluded we probably wouldn't do that without the broad, flat, runway that is the strip.

But we got out into the trees and in spite of the extra complications of the space, Laredo felt great and I felt utterly relaxed. Brian did too, and we actually chatted for a while about how we're both reaching a new level of comfort and control, and how nice it is.

I ended up loping Laredo just a few minutes into the ride. He was a little fast, but as we reached the end of the open area I just doubled him a few times and he came down to a nice trot. But I could also feel he was tired. He was trying really hard, and doing a good job with everything, but every time we stopped he would just drop his head and stand there like he was going to fall asleep. So other than one more lope late in the ride,

we mostly worked on slow stuff. And he was really good. He's started to get the "reins are connected to the feet" concept that is so important to having true control, and a number of times I was surprised how easily I could pick up and swing his front feet through various movements.

And in spite of the fact that he was very interested and curious about the environment, he never tuned me out in the slightest. We did some trot, back, trot transitions, worked on the routine, and walked a number of laps through the trees and I worked on just steering with just my legs. He was great about that, and though I'd have to back things up with the reins regularly, a lot of the time my legs were enough. I think he's really starting to understand that it's within his power to have rides that are very comfortable and easy, and he's starting to put effort into achieving that.

Ride Time: 1:00
Horseback hours YTD: 113:10

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