Friday, August 22, 2014

Oliver, Aiden, and Playing Cow

A lot of the time I find it difficult to get out to the barn on Friday afternoon. After a long week, it seems easier to just stay home and read a book. When I succeed at motivating myself to get out there, I often do it by giving myself permission to just have a super easy ride on Steen.

Today, though, I rode Aiden. I mostly did it because it's been a hot week and it's supposed to be a hot weekend, and Steen suffers in the heat a little. I know we'll ride all the horses both days this weekend, and I figured three consecutive rides would be more useful to put on Aiden. Brian was having similar thoughts about his string, so we ended up doing our Friday ride on Aiden and Oliver.

The outdoor arena at our barn is currently undergoing some renovations. Mainly, it is being converted from grass to sand/dirt. This is nice as it was not mowed regularly before, and the grass was patchy and inconsistent. Half of it had a tendency to turn into a puddle while other parts got way overgrown. Right now, the new arena is great. It has had sandy soil added and it's mostly even and level. It feels approximately five times as large as it used to be.

Brian and I rode out there. It was hot and all four of us were on the unmotivated side. After a sluggish warm-up, I was trying to think of things to work on that would be a bit fun and interesting for all involved. I wanted to take advantage of the big space and good footing. I suggested we play cow.

For some reason, we'd kind of lost track of doing this recently. For anyone not familiar with the exercise, it's fairly simple. Basically one horse and rider pretend to be a cow trying to get back to a rodear. The other horse and rider try to stay between the cow and the place it wants to be. This mostly involves circling the imaginary herd and doing quick turnarounds. The horse either drives the cow or gets ahead of it, which causes the cow to turn around and run off the other way. On some horses, the game can get really fast. It can also be played at a walk. The point is not to be only fast, but fast AND accurate. We try to make sure we get a good turnaround every time, even if it it means losing the round.

The last few times we've played this I've been on Steen and Brian has been on Laredo. And it's not really a very fair contest. Steen not only turns around really fast, he understands the game and he gets into it. Laredo isn't quite up to the same level with this kind of maneuver, so this means poor Brian gets left behind a lot.

Playing on Oliver and Aiden was a much better match. Oliver is super quick and light on his feet except that he gets stuck sometimes. Aiden is soft and consistent with his turns, but not super inclined to move out afterwards.

It was the perfect thing to work on. We played it so when the horse lost, the cow got to stand in the center and rest while the horse had to keep trotting around the circle. Then we'd switch rolls, and do it again. Both Oliver and Aiden started out distracted or slow in their various ways, but they really started to get the idea that effort would be rewarded. With each switch, they both got faster and smoother.

We didn't keep it up for that long though. It was hot, and we were all sweating buckets. Still, it was a really fun distraction for a hot Friday afternoon. I think Aiden even had some fun.


Ride Time: 0:50
Horseback Hours YTD: 158:40

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