Saturday, March 23, 2013

Out Again

It was cooler and partly cloudy today, with a chilly breeze, but we were determined to get out and about again. We waited for the day to warm as much as it was going to, then headed for the barn.

I rode Steen again. He came to me as soon as I went into the pasture today. Good boy.

We started with another little warm up in the arena. I did some work with the flag, both on the ground and under saddle. Steen gets so funny with groundwork. He tries so hard, and then when you let him come in for pets, all he wants to do is stand there and get loved on. In the picture below his body language makes it look like I've been hounding him for half an hour when in reality I moved him around a little for less than five minutes.

He was better with the flag under saddle than I expected, and it was great for helping add some energy to some of our movements. We went through quite a number of exercises in a short period of time, and I was a little demanding but Steen was completely with me. Brian was on Laredo today, so I wanted to do everything I could to make sure we would not end up being the weak link in some little moment of trouble.

We decided to do the same ride as yesterday. After about 20 minutes of warming up indoors, we headed down the strip. When we got to the bottom, Laredo got just a tad fussy about a big pile of gravel, which made Steen perk up and look around. I worked for a minute or two on keeping his nose pointing where we were going and not letting him look around and decide to be scared of things. Pretty soon his energy went right back down.

The only real hiccup of the ride happened just a minute later. We left the strip and went into the big pasture. I was walking along about ten feet from the fence, and Laredo and Brian were on my other side. Laredo was a bit behind me and Steen, but I could see him in my peripheral vision. All of a sudden, Laredo looked at the horizon, decided something was scary, and ran for cover. In this case that meant rolling back on his haunches, popping his front end over, hopping into a perfect, fluid little lope and tucking himself between Steen and the fence, where he stopped.

He did this so fast neither Brian or I even had much time to react. Brian rode through smoothly, and Steen didn't even seem to notice. It was such a babyish maneuver. The only time I've seen a horse do anything like it is when I've seen a foal get freaked out and tuck up against its mother.

We paused so Brian could work Laredo in some bends until he stopped trying to stare at the horizon. Steen again started looking where Laredo was looking, but I worked on backing up and moving the front around the hind. A moment later we continued and they were both back to being pretty quiet.

Steen was great the whole rest of the ride. We went over to the salad bowl. Instead of just one circuit trotting back and forth along the bottom, we did four or five. We spent a good deal of the ride trotting. We wanted to tire Laredo out a bit, and cover a lot of ground. We only loped a little, but when we did, both horses were good.

Finally we decided we'd had enough trotting, and headed back. Steen walked home at the same speed he walked out. Every time we stopped to open a gate or let Laredo catch up (Laredo's energy was definitely flagging by the end) I worked on moving Steen's feet in precise ways. He was always soft and attentive.

So, all in all it was another great outing. We went five miles, and a good percentage of that time was at the trot. I'm so pleased with Steen. We made it through another long, demanding trail ride without so much as a startle.

Laredo did great too. This was the first time he'd been out of the indoor arena in months, the first time he's ever been out on the trail without a large group of herd-mates, and the first time he'd been to the saddle bowl. That's a lot to pile on all at once, but he handled it.

Unfortunately, it's supposed to snow again tonight and tomorrow, so this may be the last ride of this kind for a while. *sigh

Ride Time: 1:50
Horseback Hours YTD: 24:45

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