Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Long One

Brian wanted to check in with Bear today, since he seemed a little sore during our last ride. So we decided I would ride Steen and Brian would ride Bear first and Laredo second, so we brought them all in from the pasture to get them ready to go. I groomed one side of Laredo and Brian groomed the other, sometimes at the same time. It wasn't that long ago that he couldn't tolerate being touched by more than one person at once. Now he loves the extra rubs.

We left Laredo in the side pen and went to the strip. Brian was a little ahead of me and went outside, leaving the gates open. We had the place to ourselves, so just for kicks I mounted next to our locker and rode Steen into the indoor arena, then out of it, and onto the strip.

Steen was in a mellow mood, and my primary objective for the day was to continue to battle our comfort zone bubble. It is interesting that Steen has this on the strip. He doesn't tend to have a place he wants to get back to when we ride anywhere else, and he's perfectly capable of heading out on the trail and entering entirely unfamiliar territory without hesitation, but on the strip there is this invisible line. If we cross it he starts to get antsy. The longer we stay across it, the antsier he gets.

We have made a lot of progress on this since I started really trying to address the problem last fall, and it's nothing like what it used to be. But it's still far more of a factor in his mood and behavior than I would like. So today I made a conscious effort to do more of our work and most of our resting well past his comfort line.

The ride was good. I worked on trotting even circles and figure-eights. Steen used to be the king of dropping a shoulder and diving through a turn when he wanted to get somewhere. Today he was doing this a little at first, but we just kept working the circles until he relaxed and evened out a tad. I was using Martin Black's trick of making him a little uncomfortable heading the direction he wanted to go, then riding smooth and even going the way he didn't want to go.

After we had our trotting working nicely, we loped some circles in the same place. These went pretty well. He was definitely not even in bend and cadence all the way around, but I also wasn't having to do much to keep him in the circle.

Parts of it were quite nice, and he stayed soft on the hackamore the whole time.

Because Brian rode both Bear and Laredo, I ended up riding for almost two hours. Steen was actually a little sweaty by the end. This was the first time I've seen his sweat pattern with the new saddle, since I got it in the winter and Steen really hardly sweats at all in cool weather. It is so clear the saddle fits him like a glove, I was unsurprised that it was perfectly even. But it was good to see anyway.

Ride Time: 1:55
Horseback Hours YTD: 47:40

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