Monday, May 27, 2013

Close Quarters

We arrived at the barn today to find a truck and trailer parked in the center of the indoor arena, a lesson taking place around it, and the ground too soggy for riding outdoors. Not ideal conditions, to say the least...

But there was nothing to do but make the best of it. We brought Zoey and Laredo in. They were both filthy. I took my time grooming Zoey. She did pretty well in spite of all the extra commotion. She was a bit twitchy, and also obviously in heat, but I got her saddled and bridled with only minimal difficulty.

In the arena, she was distracted. I've never seen her so taken over by external impulses. She had a serious magnet for the barn door - something I've never experienced with her before, and she was heavy on her forehand and unbalanced like she'd been during our test ride.

I started the ride with copious amounts of bending. We did short-serpentines, one-rein stops, rollbacks (from the walk) and every other exercise I could think of to soften her and encourage her to engage her haunches. These did not have an appreciable effect. She was not out of control, but she wasn't exactly giving me a relaxing ride either.

At one point someone opened one of the automatic barn doors, and the noise coupled with a new (4th) horse entering the arena sent Zoey into a tizzy. She tried to bolt. I brought her head around and we spun in circles for a while. Unlike last time, I wasn't out of balance when she did this, so I just sat there and waited on her. It wasn't any big deal, but the person bringing the new horse in felt bad and apologized.

From there we tried to trot, and again she was chargey and forward and unbalanced. I worked on one-rein stops and teardrop turns from the trot. We finally started to get somewhere. She was still a bit spazzy and distractible, but we were making progress.

Then the woman giving the lesson asked me if I'd demonstrate a posting trot for her student. Zoey does have a very postable trot, so I obliged, asking her to trot and letting her move out. We zipped around the truck and trailer a few times. I gave her her head and let her move. The instructor pointed out all the ways in which I was doing an excellent job posting (never hurts to get your form critiqued).

After a few laps we were going along one straight end of the arena and Zoey volunteered a few lope strides. The instructor, who actually rode Zoey a little last winter (before she was ours) said, "Oh wow. That's the nicest I've ever seen her lope."

So, we worked more on trotting, and when the lesson left the arena, I felt the lope out a bit more. We got some really nice loping. She was balanced and back on her haunches and happy to move out. She did keep rushing towards the door and getting stuck there, but overall the ride when from pretty tense to pretty good.

Ride Time: 1:10

After ride one, we swapped Zoey and Laredo for Steen and Bear. We tacked them up and joined in with a test ride with some people considering buying a horse. Some of the people who'd come to see the sale horse were curious about Steen's bosal. It's always fun to answer questions about how we ride.

I rode in my spurs again, and Steen was a lot less amped today. This translated to more normal responses to my legs and spurs, but no decrease in precision. I still felt like we got a lot more done with his front-end than usual.

Midway through the ride, the test ride cleared out and the truck and trailer were also removed. We finally had the arena to ourselves. What to do with all that space? Take some footage for a video on doubling, of course!

We've had a few questions on doubling since I mentioned it our trail riding post a few days ago, so we thought we'd demonstrate. However, let me preface this: these are not the most graceful doubles. It's easiest to do this when the horse has a lot of forward impulsion (too much -- which is why you are doubling them). Dinking around the indoor, Bear and Steen just didn't have that kind of energy. So we exaggerate the movement, getting a bit more bend in their neck and stepping their hind over a little further than you might do on a trail ride. But it does make it easier to see, and in any case you can see doubling on two different horses executed by two different riders. The key is getting a break in the poll and the loin, and stepping one hind leg under, to untrack the hind:

Ride Time: 0:55
Horseback Hours YTD: 73:10


  1. The video is a great help, thanks! I've mostly been working on these at the walk to practice, so seeing it at the walk is just fine.

    Also, Steen is looking really good these days. It's not always easy to tell in the still pictures, but in the video you can really see the difference.

  2. Thanks Erica! I'm glad the video was helpful. And also good to hear you can see the change in Steen. :)

    Lauren: Yeah, it was kind of a crazy situation. The barn owner was driving back from a show through a crazy storm, and the tack room in the trailer started leaking and they just needed to get it inside. The indoor arena was the only option. It was only there for a couple of hours -- just happened to be when we were trying to ride...


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