Friday, September 20, 2013

Three Great Rides on Steen

I had a little phase where my rides on Steen weren't going so great. He caught a little cold that was going around the pasture, and had a cough, but his cough seemed better the more I rode him so that made me feel like I shouldn't just give him some time off. Still, he didn't seem to enjoy being ridden all that much. He was distracted and buddy sour and barn sour.

While I can look back at what 'barn sour' and 'buddy sour' used to mean for this particular horse and recognize that what I was experiencing lately was not even dramatic enough to be a 'problem', and while I can definitely understand that a horse can't perform at the same level when they're not feeling well, these rides were a tad frustrating.

Life has thrown a few other things into the bucket as well. I seem to have hit my fall Brown Wing Studio boom, and the extra work stress has caused a flare-up of my convergence insufficiency. Roll all that together and we've had a few weeks where life hasn't been quite as peachy as usual.

However, this week things have turned a corner. We finally(!) got some rain, and that has the dust down. Since my last post, I've ridden Steen three times, once on the trail, once in the tree pasture, and once in the big pasture.


All three rides were really good. The buddy and barn sour issues we'd been dealing with when he had his cough are gone. Today, in particular, I just felt like I could point him anywhere and go where I wanted at any pace, any gait.

We spent a lot of time on top of the hill in the big pasture today. Steen and I worked on trotting and loping circles alone, and Brian and I also played some cow. It made me remember how a couple years ago just riding out into the big pasture was grounds for a breakdown. Today Steen was as mellow as they come.


I recently had an epiphany about the hind end. It's one of those ridiculous epiphanies I should have had years ago, because I've heard person after person talk about how important the hind is, and how you don't really control your horse until you've got the haunches, etc. etc. etc..

Somehow, though, a few weeks ago, I finally understood what this means. It started with Brian talking about a post he read on a forum. It was about the hind end. Brian blogs about this here. We chatted about the hind and circles and at first it didn't seem like we had covered any new territory. But then I went and got on a horse again, and this stuff rose to the surface, and I suddenly understood how the hind end influences a turn.

I can't quite put into language the level of revelational this has been for me in terms of feeling when a horse is balanced and when they are not. With Steen, we've filled a gap I've been aware of but unable to fill. It's the reason he still doesn't stop that great and will sometime feel unbalanced. It all comes back to the hind end. All of it.

So these last few rides, I've been thinking about the haunches and using my inside leg to keep Steen's hind in line with him every time we bend at all (as opposed to only thinking about the hind when we're doing a maneuver specific to the hind end). It's made a big difference. Any time he gets stiff, I just work on getting his loin soft and his hind under him and we go right back to feeling great.


Horseback Hours YTD: 141:45

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