Saturday, April 23, 2016

58 vs 580

I don't actually know how much time I've spent riding Steen. I started keeping track in 2011, and since then I've spent 580 hours on his back (this doesn't count the riding Brian has done). I can safely say I've spent vastly more time on Steen than any other single horse in my life.

Today, when I got off Nevada, I'd logged her 58th hour. That is, Brian has ridden her for 32 hours, I have ridden her for 26.

We rode today in the outdoor arena. The footing was a little softer than last time, and Nevada was happy to move out. We did more trotting than usual, which was super nice. She's got a great cadence and usually pretty good energy, but in my experience most horses struggle with motivation when ridden mostly in an indoor arena for months on end. It is so nice to be able to get her out into the world a little.

But the word comes with more distractions. Today she was a little stiffer on the hackamore at times. I worked on this in various ways. Then Brian mentioned Steen was a little nervy at some gaits (he's still not as settled with Brian as he is with me), and I told him lateral work often softens Steen up nicely. Then I realized I should be doing more lateral work with Nevada as well. So we did some leg-yields and side passes, and she just lightened up all throughout her body. We got glimmers of awesome collected movement for the first time.

Right now, we're at a point with Nevada that the basics are there, but still need reinforcement. Beyond that, we've put in the broad strokes of some more advanced skills. I'm sure plenty of horses who have 58 hours under their cinches have done a lot more, but given that Nevada is the first horse we ever started from absolute zero, I'm pretty please with how she's going. Today was definitely my best ride on her to date, but at one point I was watching Brian and Steen and I thought, "We're a long way from being that effortless."

But then, a few minutes later Brian turned around and talked about how he and Steen still have to work a bit to get totally aligned some of time. The difference is, Steen has over 600 hours of combined riding time, and Nevada has less than 60. It's hard to totally comprehend that kind of differential.

Horseback Hours YTD: 39:00

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Long Spring

Yesterday we rode outside for the first time since last fall. Usually we manage to get out earlier than this, but conditions were muddy the entire winter (excepting short stretches when it was bitterly cold), which means footing was really bad in all the places we usually ride.

Friday afternoon, however, I found myself sitting on Nevada in the outdoor arena, enjoying the feel of the afternoon sun on my skin and the ability to gaze into the distance. It was my first time on Nevada outside of the indoor arena, and only her 3rd of 4th time riding outside in her whole life. I'd already taught my Friday lesson and was feeling a bit worn out from some work drama that unfolded earlier in the day, but we had a nice time mostly working on the basics.

Today, we graduated from the arena to the strip. This was Nevada's first time being ridden in a space without a fence around it. I was a little 'ready' starting out. As quiet as she is, Nevada's got some life at times. I thought there was a chance the new environment would bring her energy up some. It did, but she wasn't nervous at all. We walked and trotted around for an hour with no drama at all. Of course things weren't quite as refined as they are in the indoor arena, but we got a lot of nice little movements, plus some good trotting.

With these two successes under our belt, I'm really looking forward to pushing our boundaries a bit more.

Horseback Hours YTD: 38:00

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