Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A Ride in Thirds

I forgot to mention last post that Steen kicked himself during our unplanned gallop and split open his heel. It was bleeding a lot when we got back to the barn, and I hosed it off and packed it with Neosporin. The bleeding stopped quickly after that and I wasn't too worried about. Still, I was anxious to see how things were looking today.

Steen has been coming to me in the pasture like a champ since our re-education on that subject a week or so ago, so I took him in and looked at his foot, which looked fine. Still, I rode him with an over-reach boot on that side to help ensure we didn't re-open anything.

Today we rode 1/3 inside, 1/3 on the strip, and 1/3 out on the trail. Inside I worked on rectangles and figure-eights. My work on asking with the leg befor engaging the supporting rein is starting to result in a big difference in how Steen responds to my legs. Today we were executing really great figure-eights with the reins draped over the horn and my arms crossed from the get-go. He's also starting to put more speed into yielding his forequarters, which is finally allowing us to consistently move fluidly through the whirligig.

We worked on some loping, but it was a little sloppy. The transitions we struggle with the most are trot to lope and lope to trot. Stop to lope, walk to lope, lope to stop, and lope to walk are all great, but something about my timing at the trot is still really holding us back.

After about half an hour, we went outside. The wind was super chilly but the footing on the strip was great. I worked on some walking and trotting exercises. When we're outside, Steen has a tendency to drop his inside shoulder and hurry when we're turning towards home, so I worked on teardrop-shaped turns inside of u-shaped ones. This throws him off-balance if he puts too much weight on his forequarters, and forces him  back on to his hind. This worked quite well to correct him. We'll have to keep working on those until I get that habit ironed out.

After the trotting I moved him in and out of the lope from the walk a few times. His lope outside was a thing of absolute beauty. He felt soft and collected and strong and completely relaxed and at home underneath me.

From there we walked back to the second strip. We encountered three tractors in just a few minutes, and both Steen and Laredo were looking at them with some uncertainty. I kept my seat moving at the cadence I wanted and when Steen stalled once or twice, just gave him a little squeeze with my calves. He came unstuck each time and kept going.

On the way back I could tell Steen was remembering the gallop, but other than putting a little more energy into the walk, showed no inclination to repeat the performance.

Ride Time: 1:20
Horseback Hours YTD: 31:20

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