With all the other exciting things happening, progress hasn’t been reported recently. So here is an update:
Last week: Rode a few times, lots of long walking around the fields and plateau. I started to introduce 5 mins of trotting each ride, broken up into 2 1/2 minute trots. Nothing too stressful, just kind of testing. Hes going along happily, with great movement and doesn’t seem to have any problems after it.
Saturday: I did a 2 1/4 hour ride, 10 mins of that was trotting broken up into 2.5 min trots like before. He was happy to trot and easy to ride. We did some of the big hills that Linda had cleared. At one point, we were going down the big hill on the far east side of the property and something clicked with me. Well, Bentley had to practically scream at me to make it click. We started walking down the hill with the tiniest steps, the moment he could see the ground becoming less steep ahead of him (mind you we weren’t on the gentle slope, we were still on scary steep hill) he would bolt down the hill in an uncoordinated trot, making me think we were both going to go down. At the bottom of the hill, he started bucking and bucking and bucking. I came within inches of landing in a nearby tree, luckily there was enough bucking to knock me out and then back into the saddle? Is that possible? I start to question what exactly happened because I swear i didn’t lose stirrups, was upside down at one point beside his neck, but then I was in the saddle again. As I said, I don’t remember losing stirrups, but somehow when I looked down, one stirrup was on backwards and the other stirrup leather had twisted inside out. It was quite the mess!
So what was all that grumpiness about? The answer has to be he is afraid and uncomfortable going down the hills. We spent some time correcting his behaviour on the hills and practising his balance going down. It took a lot of effort for me, but we got down again safely and he started being a bit happier about hills. I know I haven’t been pushing him to do that trot down the hills, I am much happier with the tiny tiny baby steps he takes. So I would let him take the baby steps and halt him whenever he felt like he was going to take a leap. By the end of our ride, we were able to do a nice long hill fully at the baby steps. No nice comfortable walk, but no fearful awkward running, and I am very happy with that!
Monday: I continued to work on the hills, nothing big this time, but I have noticed down to the plateau we have a problem with speeds and steering down the hill. In fact, he wobbles from one side to the other. I am ok with zigzagging down a steep hill, but its not that steep here and what he was doing wasn’t even close to zigzagging. More of a zig-spin-lunge-twist-zag-throwhead-and straight! So a few times down there and we had a reasonable zigzag, as well as straight descent. It wasn’t perfect, he still had a couple of those “drop” steps, but it was varied from leg to leg, so I wasn’t too worried that he was hurting, I think it was more the nervousness distracting him still.
Lily also hopped on Bentley to give him a try, I have a busy week coming up so shes going to ride him this week. Shes not used to such a sensitive horse who really needs next to no leg. Their first trot attempt was nothing less than an explosion. I can laugh a bit at it because she got it under control pretty quickly and with some more getting used to each other, they will be just fine. Also it didn’t help that the stirrups were set to my length, a good 5 holes different from what she is used to!
That’s about all I have to say for Bentley today. I guess just stay tuned for next week as I wont be riding for a little while!