Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Sunbather

This afternoon, I got a call from the manager at our barn. This always gives me a little lurch of worry. I picked up, and she said it might be nothing, but Laredo had been lying down for most of the day. It was a sunny day, and 'warm' (by which I mean way below average, but warmer than it has been), and it's possible he was just getting in some good naps. He hadn't shown any signs of distress, but she'd never seen him off his feet quite so much for so long.

She said she could bring him in and monitor him for a while, but I said I'd rather come out. I was suffering from work-related inertia anyway, so it was a good excuse to leave the office.

I found Laredo up and on the bale. He seemed perky and happy as I led him in. We did a bit of groundwork, and he seemed normal. I groomed him, and he was giving off every indication of being his usual self. I decided to do a light ride. I had him mostly tacked, and left him tied for a moment to grab something out of the lounge. When I came back, he had produced a pile of very nice manure. Always a good sign when one is worried about digestion.

So, we rode. He was actually far more energetic today than I'd felt in a while. When I asked for the trot for the first time, he felt positively lively. We tooled around for a little less than an hour. I'd taken my roo hide hacakmore out, because I figured if Laredo needed walking, I'd ride Steen and pony Laredo. I was also thinking about the reminder I got working with Tate, that less is more when it comes to getting/keeping a horse soft. And Laredo was soft today. I've started to be of the opinion that changing headgear causes a brief false-positive impression almost no matter what, because the different feel causes the horse to pay more attention. (I think this is why so many people go looking for a new bit every 3-6 months.) So part of what I was feeling today was likely the different hackamore.

But nevertheless, it was a good ride. We were dodging lessons horses the whole time, but Laredo was unflappable. At one point the barn manager (who was on foot and chasing a beginner on a pony around with a lunge whip) looked at me after accidentally running right into my trajectory, whip flailing, and said, "I'm glad your horses are so sane. I couldn't do this with anyone else in here."

Just for good measure, Laredo pooped again right when I put him back in the pasture. So, in the end, I got a nice ride on a day I otherwise wouldn't have. Thanks Laredo!

In other news, it's been a great year for riding so far. In spite of my lingering injury and the horrible, horrible weather, I have twice as many saddle hours now than I had last year at this time.

Ride Time: 0:50
Horseback Hours YTD: 31:20


  1. I am not a proponent of changing headgear unless your horse is truly ready for the next step in the gear progression, if you will. We cannot be consistent if we're constantly changing bits because they all work differently. Your hands will learn to function best if you pick something and stay with it until your horse is truly ready for the next step.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I definitely agree with you, and we don't change around randomly or often.

      When and how to 'move up' is something we put a lot of thought into. Martin Black and Richard Caldwell advocate testing out the next 'level' of gear from time to time. Buck also says it is good to try out a hackamore and ride in it, and then go back to the snaffle if you need to, or to try a thinner hackamore, then go back to a stiffer one if things start to deteriorate.

      For me, riding 'up' from time to time can give me a clearer idea of where the holes are, and what I need to work on. If my comment about switching headgear made it seem like I advocate changing things to get the horse to pay more attention, that is not at all what I meant. I meant entirely the opposite. I am very, very much against the idea of swapping out gear without cause or plan, most particularly bits. The only time we change anything is to gauge our progress towards the next step in the progression.


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