Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Sunny Strip Ride

Today we rode on the strip. It was great to tack up outside and ride outside and feel warm the whole time. We're still way below average temps for this time of year, but at least we're getting some days that it feels nice to be outside.

I rode Laredo. I continued with my focus of being precise with what I ask for, with a concrete goal in mind every single time I asked him to move. We also took plenty of breaks between asking for things. He was pretty good. I expected him to have more energy and distraction because we were outside, but that wasn't really the case.

We worked a lot on moving the front around the hind. He's gotten stuck with this lately. He always wants to rock forward, so I worked on asking him to back a few steps, then step across, back a few steps, then step across. We did that over and over until we got to a point where he took one step and was actually set up to take another. We also worked a lot on backing with consistency. I'd keep him going back until I could feel he was prepared to take another step after the one I'd just asked for, then let him rest.

We also worked on consistent energy at the trot. He's getting better about this. He still has a tendency to want to slow down in the turns, so I worked on hurrying him through those as well.

A lot of Laredo's slow-down problems come from his tendency to carry his head too low. For a long time we haven't specifically addressed this because it seemed like too much to throw at him at once. Now, though, he's clearly developing an understanding of his job. So today, particularly towards the end when he was getting tired, I worked on gently lifting his head when he starting dropping his poll below his withers. I don't care about his head being anywhere in particular, just not so low it's inhibiting his ability to balance properly. Interestingly, each time I lifted his head, he responded by picking up the pace. Definitely something to keep working on.

We also loped some circles. These went better than I expected. He had one place he wanted to bend out in each direction, but I had no trouble keeping him in line. Once he dropped the lope and I popped him on the butt and he surged off but didn't get stiff or scared and after the initial burst of speed, came back to a nice circle.

He's looking pretty ragged though. His tail got chewed off a few weeks ago by a new horse that no one knew had a tail chewing habit until he'd destroyed a few tails, and his winter coat is completely beat up and half fallen out. Looks aren't everything, but I'm looking forward to seeing him in new summer duds in a few more weeks.

Steen was also enjoying the weather. He was conked out in the pasture when we arrived. It worried me just a little. This is only the second time in five years I've come out to find him lying down. But he got up to say hi and was clearly his normal self. Then when we were riding I saw he'd tucked in for another nap in the sun.

Ride Time: 1:15
Horseback Hours YTD: 32:35

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