Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Little steps toward the big goal

Poor Bear has been all wet and soggy for awhile, and we've not been getting much training time in. Last Tuesday the 17th he didn't even get to go to class since there was no way I was going to be able to get the truck into the muddy pasture to get the trailer out. Luckily due to the cold miserable weather riding that night was optional, and everyone else opted to go home! So we didn't end up missing anything.

I snuck out of the office on Wednesday to ride during lunch break, but just got on the old mare and ponied him. It was too wet in the pasture, and he was feeling oh so frisky with no outlet for his energy for so long. So instead of risking a wild ride on the roads, we opted for the chicken workout. But he did get a good hour of power walking alongside the mare, and that was much better than being stuck in the slick pasture.The rest of the week got busy, and I couldn't get out to see him at all.

Saturday morning I went out just long enough to get the stupid trailer out of the pasture and onto the paved driveway before the major rains hit again. Even though it was REALLY slick in the pasture still it was going to be one of the few clear days so the horses were turned out to get some grass and frolicking. As soon as I took Bear's blanket off he decided it was time for his rodeo, mud or no mud. I'm sure this is how he injured himself originally, and through his recovery he would often slip again and be sore for the day, so I was watching with some concern as he galloped recklessly around the pasture! I'm sure I could have grabbed a bucket of feed and occupied his mind with eating instead of running, but what's the point? If he wasn't running now, he'd be running later, and at least I could observe it. More important is that he learns some sense! He was really booking it around the pasture, but he kept his balance and his feet underneath him the whole time. His sliding stops up to the fence line made me nervous every time, but he never took even one off step, so that's a huge improvement! He is still at a very awkward stage and still seems to be figuring out what to do with his body, but I hope that by learning to gallop and maneuver in the slippery muck he will better keep his balance under saddle on grass jumping field or cross country course.

Tuesday night, back to class! Yeah! We spent a good amount of time lunging off his excess energy. He wasn't all that naughty considering! He shook his head and half bucked once, and kicked out about the sand hitting the arena wall, but compared to the airs above ground he's done when I lunge him in the pasture it was quite tame. (I think he knows I'll chase him forward and really work him when he's in the arena like that.)I put the dressage saddle on, since I was planning on starting back into a little trotting this week. I guess I sort of thought twice about it, but mainly I would just be embarrassed that if I fell off people would say "That's why you should ride colts in a western saddle!" But I'm so much more comfortable in the dressage saddle! When we got on he was fine, and stood quietly. When we walked off we only made it halfway down the rail before he took a bug-eyed look at the "scary" corner, and spun completely around! I sat it just fine, in fact maybe even better than in a western saddle! But the spook was a indicator of our evening. He wasn't bad, he was just not great. It’s been a solid two weeks without riding, and he's had such a big break in his training anyway, that I shouldn't expect more until I can put the time in. He had one more incident when another horse spooked and bolted off right in front of Bear which of course made him follow suit! But I turned him into the wall and he stopped just fine. While that horse was off dumping his rider, Bear was dancing around a bit, but settle down pretty well. We did get a little bit of trotting in both ways, but he needs a lot more work with regularity of gait, and it was hard to get that worked on when I was dodging 6 other green horses! The lesson for the day way pivoting on the haunches starting with forward movement. Bear moves away from pressure alright since we started the process of moving his shoulder versus moving his haunches a while back, but he wasn't really getting the idea of stopping the forward motion. So that's what we'll be working on for a while, but it was a great start. Little steps...

Today, Wednesday, I went out to see Bear over lunch break since it sounds like the rain is coming back and my weekend is pretty full. We had another first! With all the hand walking I was doing in January, I've taken him out away from the house alone several times in hand, but today was his first trail ride ALONE! We walked to where the dirt road started, and I got on there. He was fine for about 20 feet, and then it suddenly hit him that he couldn't hide behind me if something scary came up! I was hiding behind him!!! So he sort of staggered back and forth across the trail thinking about turning to go home, but he got over it pretty quick when he remembered that the back roads are fun, and the pasture is muddy and boring! Then I got off again at the big hill. I figure I'm out of shape and need the exercise, and I know he's out of shape and wanted to make this an easy work out. Then we continued on under saddle for the flat stretch. He hardly spooked at all when the ducks took off from the pond, which they do EVERYTIME we pass. In fact he let out a big sigh of relief afterwards like the anticipation was just killing him! Over all it was great and he never felt like a danger. He does, however, have a major problem with wiggling all over the place instead of walking a straight line! I guess he's always following the mare, and taking his direction from her. So we need to work on him taking his direction from me more.

The big goal is a show March 7th, only two weeks away. It’s the same one that will have the in hand trail class, and I'm hoping to do one or two walk-trot classes just to get him in the show arena. That is, as long as I feel confident he won't run down small children on ponies! We have physically conditioning to do, and a bit of work on a consistent trot rate before we'll be ready! We'll see...

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