Sunday, November 09, 2008

Day in the sun, or at least no rain

We had a little break in the weather today and got both horses out in the outdoor arena. Katie was riding Lena, and Steve and I took turns with Bar. I started out on photography duty as Katie is writing a paper on the Thoroughbred racing industry and wanted some pictures of Lena, Bar, and I think most of the other horses in our paddock row to compare feet, bone mass, and confirmation.

Both Bar and Lena have great confirmation, but it's easy to see the differences in their structures and in the way they move. Bar has a long, easy stride--his rear footprints easily end up in the holes his front feet made--but isn't as laterally flexible (yet) as Lena is. They feel entirely different to ride, too. Some of that is practice and (for my part, anyway) the ability to relax and work with the horse. I'm mostly much more relaxed on Lena and can stay out of her way better. But they still feel different from each other. Bar feels more elevated. Like he springs up between strides. Lena feels very solid and fluid, but like I'm staying level, not rising up and down. They are, after all, cut from fairly distinct molds, not to mention near opposite backgrounds and bloodlines, so it makes sense that they don't feel exactly the same from up in the saddle.

I know there are obvious training issues for both horse and rider, and I'll surely have a revised opinion in a few months, but right now, at my level of (in)experience, that's how these two horses feel to ride.

On a side note, it's also the first time in a few months that Bar and I have been back in the outdoor arena at anything higher than a walk. We just worked on a steady, consistent trot today, but he was paying attention and giving me what I asked for, so I figure that's a win for both of us. Woo!

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