Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Teeth of a Four-Year-Old

As is quite obvious, my blog has languished this summer. For the first time since I got Steen in 2008, I have utterly fallen out of the habit of posting about my rides.

But I don't want to let this blog die, and catching up feels daunting, so I'm going to just jump right back in. Obviously I have not written about quite a few important events and epiphanies, but I'm going to try to just bring those up as backstory where they fit in with current events.

So, yesterday it was hot. Really hot. It's been a brutal summer, with crazy amounts of sun and no rain. No rain. At all. For weeks now. And this is Iowa. The horses hardly got any time out on the grass, because the grass barely grew this year. I try not to worry about things beyond my control, but still I can't help but fear for what this winter will bring in terms of hay shortages.

Anyway, Brian and I decided to ride in spite of the heat. It was breezy and we took advantage of the shade in the tree lot. I rode Laredo.

Laredo has had a few little hiccups this summer. After a trim about eight weeks ago, his feet were sore. This led to us giving him quite a bit of time off. Right about when we came back from that, he seemed to pull a hock or loin or something. He was off on the left hind. So we gave him more time off. The last few rides we've been back on him he's seemed better, but fussy with the bit.

In the old Vaquero tradition, horses were started in the hackamore. They weren't introduced to their first bit until they were five at the youngest, and this was because of what happens in a horse's mouth before he's mature. Laredo is well over his old leaning and rooting issues, so we conjectured this new fussiness was something to do with his teeth.

Today, I decided to put him in the hackamore again. I was planning on a light ride anyway, due to both the heat and his recent stiffness. And I have to say, things went really well. We worked a lot on hind-end control, walking, figure-eights, and moving out. Towards the end I worked on holding some softness through some bends, walk-trot transitions, and leg-yields. The whole time I thought about one lesson both Brian and I have returned to this summer in different ways with all four of our horses: be softer. Always. In every situation, at every moment, be softer than you think you can be and it's amazing what you can get done.


Laredo was more responsive to my hands today than I've ever felt before. He's different lately too, just more mature, a little less goofy. I guess the kid has grown up a bit.

And he was clearly more comfortable in the hackamore. His mouth was quiet all day. We'll be getting his teeth looked at soon to make sure there's nothing unusual happening, but we were planning on putting his snaffle away for the winter anyway. It might be we just make that transition a bit sooner than planned.

Ride Time: 1:10
Horseback Hours YTD: 137:25

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