Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Riding Alone

Today I took Brego out by myself, while Tim was at work. We went from the house down to Smith Lake and back (a little under an hour). I did this once before, I think last fall, and was nervous the whole time. But today I was quite relaxed and enjoyed myself. I think Brego enjoyed it, too. He got to gait and canter a bit, and basically enjoy the ride. He was a little hesitant to leave the other horses at home, but not much, and obediently went on as I asked.

Again, it is so nice to finally feel relaxed and enjoy this. Brego is great, I don't think I could have asked for a better partner. (We still need to see how he will do with a large number of other horses on the trail ride we plan to attend the end of June. At that time, Tim will ride him the first time out and be sure he knows not to worry about the other horses or being separated from Strider.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ride at Cherokee Lone Pine Unit

Today we took the horses up to the same place we were last May. I guess this is an annual ride! Again, Brego was great. I was relaxed and enjoyed the ride with my good horse. It's so nice to finally be getting over the hump of fear or intimidation and feel comfortable with my horse. It's not that he's been bad, it's more me. It just took a long time to feel like I know what I'm doing and can handle my horse if the unexpected should happen.

This trail has several stream crossings. With spring runoff, the stream was just about up to Brego's belly & my feet, and running fairly swiftly. Each time, I watched Tim & Strider cross first. Sometimes Strider would stop in the middle and play in the water with his nose and paw with his feet. I was mostly watching the water level on his legs, concerned knowing that Brego's legs are shorter, but each time, we were good. Brego was a champ, going right through the stream. He seemed to look forward to it and was ready to go each time without hesitation. Bravo, Brego.

As Tim said, the thing that seemed to help me turn the corner and feel more relaxed was probably the time I've spent (finally) cantering and knowing I can turn, slow down and stop. It has taken some practice, but I'm finally feeling comfortable with these things, and know I'm more equipped to handle him if he should take off for whatever reason. Also, Brego is much more responsive to my cues, and I suppose I'm better at giving them. We seem to have a good partnership going. Sometimes when Tim & Strider were a bit ahead of us, I'd ask Brego to gait to catch up, which he seemed to enjoy. At other times when they were ahead, Brego would turn to look at me as if to ask, "Is it time to run and catch up now?" He did not take his own initiative to do it without being asked, which is wonderful.

I'm really enjoying this life of getting out and riding! I'll post photos when I have a chance.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Spring Ride at Soapstone Prairie

Yesterday we enjoyed a break from our garden work and took Strider & Brego up to Soapstone Prairie. It was a beautiful day after a long, cool spring with not so many nice days on the weekends.

I enjoyed being relaxed and riding a calm, relaxed horse. Brego kept up with Strider nicely and did what I asked. Since there are several wide, open, flat spots we did some cantering here and there and it felt very good. We kept Brego in the lead, so he wouldn't get nutty, and after the first little run when he didn't know quite what to do or think about being out front, he did great. He wasn't quite sure what to think about Strider catching up to him and would look over and slow down, but after a few times he kept going without being bothered. He was really having fun, and began going faster at times, and I was having fun, too, and quite relaxed. We still need to work on stopping--sometimes he stops better than other times, and sometimes I had to resort to one rein, but we'll get there.

Brego is now getting quite slick around his shoulder area, and gradually near his rear. I suppose the mid-section will lose the winter fur last. He still has a bit of a dark beard, but it's getting smoother, too.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

2009-2010 May

Obviously, I haven't been writing, but that doesn't mean we haven't been doing anything. After the South Dakota ride in June 2009, we went camping in August, in the Medicine Bows, southern Wyoming with two other couples and their Tennessee Walkers. We had a great time, a couple of challenging rides (for me) and Tim did some workouts separating Brego & Strider, by leaving one tied to the trailer while taking the other one away. Everything helps, but we are still working on Brego's separation issues.

The first week of September was the Fort Robinson APHA ride again. We felt that Brego & I weren't ready to tackle being separated from Tim & Strider, so we left Brego home and I rode Cody for the week. Although I was sad to leave Brego, I was glad to feel very comfortable and relaxed on Cody, and even entered a trail trial team competition. My team won the beginner category. Good for Cody!

Brego still gets a bit freaked out if the other horses leave him behind, and gets nutty trying to catch up. One day when we were out at Smith Lake, Tim and another friend on Cody went ahead. I kept Brego back for a bit, but when I let him catch up he took off running faster than I've ever gone, got quite bouncy, and I couldn't slow him down. He seemed like he was going to run right into Strider & Cody, then stopped so fast I fell off. I was prepared and rolled off, so it wasn't too bad for me, and fortunately I didn't get stepped on. This did rattle my confidence a bit. Since then we've practiced cantering and stopping, and I'm gaining in confidence. Tim has also begun to help me with cantering and learning to get Brego into the correct lead, which is helping me feel much more comfortable riding the canter as well. Next time he takes off, perhaps I'll do better.

In March we attended some clinics at the Rocky Mtn. Horse Expo in Denver with Moses Woodson, who specializes in gaited horses. He was teaching some ground and saddle work to help strengthen their hindquarters, get them more collected, and smooth out their gait. We've begun to do some of these exercises with Brego & Strider, and hopefully they'll ride more smoothly. I'm sure just the time spent with me and Brego continues to give us a better partnership.