Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Kid is Pooped

We've had a warm fall, and of our three horses Laredo seems the most inclined to put on a long, thick winter coat the fastest. That means with the sun out and the days warm, he's been a little hot.

Even in the best of times, Laredo isn't a horse with energy to spare. This was one of the reasons we picked him. A nice quiet three year old for our first real training project seemed a good bet.

But the last couple of days, Laredo's energy levels have hit an all time low. Both today and yesterday we spent the bulk of our ride in the bean field. We mostly walked, trotting or loping up the odd hill.

For the most part, Laredo was really good. He's starting to be able to pick up and hold the soft feel for several steps in a row. He steers off the legs really well, even when out and about.

The only things that's not ideal is the pace. This guy can plod. It's really pretty comical. When we get to a steep uphill and he's hot and tired, he will literally heave one leg at a time, as if I weigh 500 pounds and we've been riding him into the ground every day for a month.

Perversely, he still has a slight tendency to jump into a trot and dive down the steeper downhills. I think this is because he's still working on developing the haunch muscles he needs to carry a rider down without getting unbalanced.

Towards the end of the ride today, after I corrected him a few times for trying to trot the downhill, he tried a new strategy. When we got to a steep downhill grade, he'd just stop and stand. The first few times I was able to nudge him along and get him going again, but on the fifth or sixth time he got pretty stuck. It was clear coaxing was only going to make the problem worse, so I applied leg. I kicked him, not gently but certainly not as hard as I could, repeatedly and with rhythm, waiting for him to unstick and take a step but aware he might come up with another answer.

He did the latter. After half a minute of rhythmic kicks, Laredo decided he didn't like the kicking and would see if bucking would make it stop. He's not athletic or practiced enough for his bucks to be anything major, but he got in about three or four before I could get his head around. I never felt unbalanced or in the slightest danger of losing my seat though, so it was no big deal. And after that he walked down all the rest of the hills like a trooper.

Friday Ride Time: 1:05
Saturday Ride Time: 1:00
Horseback hours YTD: 120:15

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