Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Squishy Ground

I was curious to see how Laredo would be for me today after his long, somewhat difficult ride with Brian yesterday. I expected him to be tired, so was pleasantly surprised when I got on and that was not the case. He was soft to the hackamore and moving out nicely from the start.

My goal for the day was to achieve energy in all movements, most particularly at the walk. I wasn't riding with my spurs, because Laredo is getting increasingly sensitive. It used to be that if I kicked him without a spur, it meant nothing to him. Now he really, really doesn't like it when you kick him. That is great because it means he will start to try to find ways to avoid being kicked, which means we have to kick him less and less.

One of Laredo's most frustrating habits is he loses considerable momentum every time you turn him. So I worked on walking him out in a straight line and bending him into a turn. If his motor died while turning, I got after him until he sped back up. This worked so well that after about four time he actually accelerated through a turn. Good boy.

We also worked on motivation at the lope. I did the same thing at the lope that I did at the trot a few rides ago. I asked for the lope, and my goal was to make it one entire lap of the arena without having to ask him to keep it. This actually took much, much longer than I expected and resulted in the longest time I have ever loped Laredo. He started out lazy but compliant, went through a period of being pretty grouchy and trying to cut corners and drop the lope, but finally he settled into a consistent cadence and stopped thinking about how much he'd like to stop. We achieved our full lap, I said woah and he slammed on the brakes. What a goof. You'd think we rode him into the ground every day and never fed him at all.

At the end of the arena work we decided to go poke around the fields. This didn't go quite as well as planned. Mainly, the ground was SOGGY. Laredo slipped on some downhills, but we persevered and made our way into the large pasture thinking if we went up on the higher ground it would be less squishy. That proved to be not at all the case. Instead we found snow on the hilltops, so decided to turn around (by pivoting, of course).

Naturally, right when we got a few steps down the side of a big, slick-sided hill, Laredo looked off into the distance and decided something we couldn't see was Scary. He stiffened up and started bouncing between my legs and hands, and backing up when I wouldn't let him go forward. It wasn't anything that would have been that big of a deal in normal circumstances, but I wasn't that happy about having it happen on a slippery hillside. Still, there was nothing to do but work with him and hope he didn't knock himself over. And it turned out fine. I got him to the bottom of the hill without any sudden bursts of speed or changes of direction, then worked on flexing him and moving his hind until he stopped feeling so rigid. Then we walked home.

Ride Time: 1:15
Horseback Hours YTD: 28:30

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