Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Loping Circles on Laredo

Between Laredo's fatigue and Bear's tight back (and Steen's ripped up leg), we thought it would be best to give everyone a couple days off. Monday I went out on my own to clean Steen's leg. All three of our horses came to me as soon as they saw me at the gate, leaving the bale just to say hello. Then when I put Steen back later both Bear and Laredo came to me again for a little more attention.

On Wednesday I rode Laredo again, and while it was still warm and he still wasn't exactly bursting with energy, he was much much better. We had one of those rides that leaves you smiling for hours afterwards. He was just great. It felt like a number of things we've been working on clicked into place while he had his mini vacation. He was great about bringing his front around his hind, finally figuring out that if he rolls his weight back onto his haunch to do this, he can take multiple consecutive steps.

We also worked on backing half-circles around Brian and Bear, and for the first time he was moving front and hind in unison, instead of floundering through the exercise one leg at a time.

And he was so so light on the bit. I almost can't  believe how light. He was tucking his head for a soft feel before I could even get to the slobber straps, and he was holding it at the walk for five, six, seven steps no problem.

Brian and I also worked on an exercise where you  back your horse five steps, then jump him in the trot. This was tricky. The idea is the offer the horse a chance to go by releasing your hands from the back and rocking your pelvis forward. If the horse doesn't go, you come in with your legs and "make it happen." The first time I asked, Laredo didn't know what I wanted, so my (light) kick surprised him. But after that he was better, always giving me some kind of departure, though rarely right into an energetic trot. I often had to speed him up a bit after we got going. This isn't exactly how the exercise is meant to work, but it seemed unjust to get too picky about it with him, considering I'm still working on getting these motions down myself.

At any rate, it did wake him up, but the beautiful thing was our trot to walk transitions. The first couple times I brought him down, he got a tad bracey and leaned on the bit. By after the third one he got it, and after that he would collect when I picked up on the reins. I'd ease him to the walk and he'd go on in a soft frame.

Later on, we played cow. This went well from the start. Laredo was stopping like a champ, and rolling immediately into backing, then bringing his front through with energy. After a few rounds with Bear loping around us, I decided to see if Laredo could lope a circle. He picked it up quite readily, but after a few good strides started to feel just a teeny bit wadded up. I gave him some extra leg and a pop with the inside rein when his head started to go down. He straightened out and moved on. Turns out he sure can lope a nice, balanced short circle already. And he can stop from a lope too. It's about the only thing he was doing with as much energy as you could want all day. :)

We finished up with a cool down around the bean field. On the one steep hill we encountered, Laredo hesitated just a bit going down. I gave him just a little nudge and he went on without trouble. We had one final lope up the strip back to the barn. He went nicely the whole way.

Ride Time: 1:05
Horseback hours YTD: 122:20

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