Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Time with the Kid

Since Brian has mostly taken over riding Zoey lately, I've been spending lots of time with Laredo. And it's been neat in a number of ways. Since we got him a year and a half ago, Brian and I have switched back and forth working with Laredo consistently, usually alternating rides. While this is great in some respects (helps him be more versatile, gives us the ability to have in depth conversations about his progress) the downside is you don't get quite the same emotional attachment on either side, or quite the same level of individuation in terms of his understanding of subtler cues.

Lately, I've been riding Laredo in my new roo-hide hackamore. It fits him nicely, and it's interesting to see the different way he responds to its feel. Since it's so much smoother and softer over the nose, I feel like it's great for working on holding collection more. My other hackamore can get kind of scratchy when it's engaged. This one doesn't do that at all.

I didn't really expect to notice a huge difference in the way Laredo responds now that it's essentially only me working with him (for now), and I haven't noticed a huge change. But I have noticed a small one. He's coming to me more quickly in the pasture. He's showing a bit more affection and engagement in small ways. So that is interesting.

One day this weekend we found his lying down in the sun. I walked up and petted him and haltered him. I've never had another horse who will just let you touch him all over when he's lying down.

The main thing I've been focusing on with Laredo lately is cadence. Our biggest struggle remains moving with energy, all the time. I've lately realized I can only give Laredo a break when he's not moving. With Steen, that is not the case. I can let him walk between exercises and he'll get a nice mental break. But with Laredo, if we're doing anything other than standing, I have to stay vigilant to keep him in a good cadence, or he just gets dull and distracted and I end up validating a behavior I'm trying to fix.

Since realizing that, things are better. He is learning that when I'm asking him to move, he needs to move with quality and energy. Always. No matter what.

Which is good, because when I can get his energy to stick around, we're finally able to start working on lateral movement. We've been working on tipping the hind in and out at both the walk and the trot, and have finally achieved some consistency with leg-yields. This all comes back to energy, as it used to be that I'd ask for a lateral movement and Laredo would just die on me. No forward movement means no lateral movement either.

We've had some longer, more demanding rides lately, both mentally and physically, and he's doing well. Zoey is doing well too. She's really thriving now that she has her 'own' person. It's pretty neat, both for her and Brian. This weekend we had the two of them out on the strip, and after a pretty long, decently challenging ride, they were really happy to stand side by side and doze in the sun.

Horseback Hours YTD: 176: 25

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