Friday, November 09, 2012

Getting Better With Age

I've been feeling a bit bad lately that my horse's injury means I'm putting the lion's share of time on Laredo, who Brian and I are supposedly sharing. So today we did a swap and I rode Bear.

Bear is in great shape lately. The extra hours we've been putting on him to compensate for Steen being out of commission are really showing in positive ways. He is well-muscled and not at all overweight. He's energetic and responsive and seems to like his job.

We rode on the strip. My primary goal was to make the ride pleasant for both of us. We started with a lot of walking since in cooler weather Bear needs a longer warm-up. I worked a little on some of what we learned about pivoting on individual feet at the Martin Black clinic, and was surprised at how much success I had with this even on Bear, who I don't know as well as Steen and Laredo.

Later in the ride, I worked on figure-eights. I often find when I ride Bear I use my hands more than I seem to on our other horses, but I know Brian can walk (and sometimes trot) figure eights on him with no hands. So I decided to set my reins down and see what I could get done. This was a really good decision. I learned that Bear is just not quite as soft to my leg as Steen is, and the result is I often ask with the leg and get no response, which makes me come in with my hands. But I found when I used my leg just a little more firmly, I got a lot more response. We even managed a few figure eights with almost no hands.

At the end of the ride I did a couple of straight lopes up the strip. I always seem to lope Bear in a circle, even though I know loping in a circle is not always physically easy for him, and loping with a rider he doesn't know that well tends to make him nervous. I don't know why I don't lope him straight more often. We had a couple of beautiful runs up the strip, and at the end of each I let him rest and relax.

It was fun to ride Bear, and it's particularly nice to feel like I can hop on any one of our three horses and have a great ride.

Ride Time: 1:00
Horseback hours YTD: 135:05

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