Saturday, March 09, 2013

Signs of Spring?

We knew it was going to be a rainy weekend, but were determined not to let this phase us. Today we got up and went right out to the barn. We found everyone super, super wet. We took Steen and Laredo inside and got them cleaned up, but we didn't allow them their usual pre-ride romp as we didn't want them all over sand.

Steen was warm and dry under his blanket, but shedding:


I hadn't seen him for a few days so there was quite an accumulation under his blanket. Hopefully this means we will get some nicer weather soon.

Steen was good with groundwork. I worked some on backing with rhythm from the ground, in hopes this would translate to under saddle work later. At first he wanted to jump left or right after we went more than a few steps, but I stuck with him and he settled into it.

I got on right about the time Laredo started having a mini meltdown. We suspect it had something to do with the feel of the saddle on his wettish back. I watched Brian work through it. He did very well. I have never actually seen Laredo that upset, but Brian was both firm and fair with him. While I was watching Laredo go nuts and Brian handle it, it occurred to me that we are long past the days where I need to intervene and keep a horse from taking advantage of him.

My ride was fabulous. Steen is such a pleasure to ride these days. I focused on backing for the early part of the ride, and also working on moving the front end around the hind with more energy and life. Steen and I have been stuck with this maneuver for quite some time in that I can get him to move his front with no trouble, quite consistently, but I can't seem to make any headway hurrying it up.

One of the video clips we saw had Buck teaching a young horse this precise thing. He rocked the horse back three or four steps every time it tried to move forward, and this really allowed the horse to understand how to set his feet up to not to have to go forward. I started doing this with Steen and it instantly helped with both his backing and his stepping his front over.

Later in the ride we had sort of a great moment. Brian and I are people who tend to just do our own thing and not talk about it. No one else at our barn rides like we do, and for the most part not a lot of people seem interested. We get the odd question here or there, which we answer, but other than that we don't tend to talk about what we're working on.

Today, though, the owner of our barn came out and asked me a few questions about bosals. Her daughter is thinking of starting her new horse in one. So she, her daughter, and another guy came over to the edge of the arena to chat. I sat on Steen and answered her questions, and then she asked about mane hair mecates. I said we love them, and that I can't imagine going back to riding in anything else. I explained how they are soft and flexible while still having so much life in the rope. I said this allows a subtler level of communication than I knew was possible before I started using one.

Then I said, "See how Steen will back without me even putting pressure on the reins." I shifted my body into the position I use when I ask him to back and twitched my reins just slightly. I expected him to go back, because he always does, but what I didn't expect was how well he went. He tucked his head in the perfect "bridled" position, scooted his haunches up and under, and took four or five perfect, fluid steps backwards. I swear he knows when he has an audience.

There was this moment where the three of them were literally speechless. The guy said, "Wow." Then my barn owner said, "Yeah, the bosal didn't even move."

I hope I don't sound like I'm bragging, and I certainly do not cultivate good horsemanship to be a show off. But I have to say that was a satisfying moment. :)

Ride Time:  1:00
Horseback hours YTD: 15:05

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