Saturday, January 19, 2013

Out in the Sun

Today was sunny and in the 50s! We seized the opportunity to ride outside.

It was great to be back on the strip. I rode Steen, and he was full of energy from the start. For the most part, he wasn't misbehaving, but it was one of those days I could have pointed him at the horizon and opened him up and he'd have been in a gallop in a heartbeat.

Early in the ride, I worked on simple stuff at the walk and trot, with one short lope thrown in. I can really feel how weak Steen's back and hindquarters are as a result of his injury, so I worked on exercises to help him re-engaged behind. We did short serpentines, and also I would trot him out in a straight line and turn him in a teardrop shape to head back the opposite direction without slowing down. When we get this right, it forces him to bend nicely and scoot his hind legs up beneath him to get through the turn. All of our trots were super fast, but I worked on just going with him and letting him move out if he wanted. I figure he can use the conditioning.

We also worked quite a bit on moving individual feet, and I had a couple stints of taking him out past our comfort bubble. The first foray down the strip was uneventful, but the second one got a bit nuts. I got down just past the drainage, and stopped to work on short serpentines. Steen has trouble relaxing and focusing on work when we're outside of our safe zone on the strip, so my hope was to get him to engage mentally with light but somewhat challenging work. Unfortunately Whisper was in the pasture right next to the strip, and apparently was feeling rambunctious. He started galloping up and down the fenceline right next to us. The first time he took off, Steen felt like he was thinking about going after him, so I bent his head around. His energy then came up to the point that it was just below meltdown point. I, of course, tried to occupy him with other things. I will say when he's that fired up, he moves like a dream. We backed two great, complete circles, hopped the front end both directions, did some sidepasses and leg yields and he was just soo responsive. But every time we came around a turn and started pointing back up to the top of the strip, he would drop his inside shoulder, straighten out, and try to plunge for home.

Of course these days Steen's plunges for home happen at the walk. At any point during any of this we could have walked back to the barn on a loose rein, and a number of times I asked him to stop and he stood quietly (if not willingly). However, all of it was in Steen's "my brain is half on" mode, which I do not like and am trying to conquer for good and all.

We'd been working on various things for many minutes, and he was starting to calm down a bit, when another outside incident interfered. Three teenage girls were out riding, and they decided to gallop their horses up the strip straight at us. They were borderline out of control. At first they were just laughing, but as they drew closer one of them started screaming and another one started yelling "woah" repeatedly while her horse continued to run full speed ahead.

I thought they were in trouble, so I dismounted quickly. I'm not sure what I thought I could do to help, but at any rate it didn't come to anything. They all got their horses stopped before they reached me.

I got back on, and Steen and I continued to make our way back towards the top of the strip. We trotted some circles and figure eights, walked some circles and figure eights and drew slowly closer and closer to where Brian was riding Laredo. Finally I could feel Steen's brain reengage fully.  I pointed him at the top, and he walked quietly back up to our comfort zone.


Once there we did more trotting, more precision stuff, and more bending. His trot stayed fast all day though.

Anyway, in spite of the antics, it was a nice ride, and a productive one. It's good to know at least half of his Steen's brain will stay with me if there are galloping horses and madness all around.

Ride Time: 1:15
Horseback hours YTD: 4:30

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