|Taken by Ranch Namaspamoos|
Today I rode Leo for the first time since he's been back home. As such, it was more of a “test ride” than anything. First I had to fit the tack to him (as my saddle has a gullet changing system) and ended up with my Wintec 2000 All-Purpose and a Beta Bitless bridle from Nurtural. He was easy-going, even a bit excited about it when I brought it out, which only motivated me to ride him more.
I led him out and mounted up, immediately he was ready to go. I walked him partway down the hill before I asked for a halt and then asked for a walk on. He listened readily. We were almost all the way down the hill when some birds flew through the branches of a bundle of trees to the left of the path. Mind you, he's walked by this a million times in his life, but as he's just come back home he had forgotten about that particular scare. He did spook, but only shivered his muscles and stepped calmly to the side one step. I told him he was a good boy and thanked him for not taking off and then continued to ride.
He did notice the other horses down at the far end of the field just a moment later and obviously had the thought to gallop to them, but he held back and listened when I asked him to enter a paddock to our right (the one I usually ride horses in when it's vacant). During the ride he was very easily distracted, but I would attribute that to the circumstances: newly arrived home, new rider, new tack and all of that next to his age and relative inexperience. I think his focus is won as long as you keep him busy. I was successful in this by asking for circles and changes of direction. I won't lie, it was a chore to get him to get going in the precise right direction rather than the correct general direction, but overall he has a good grasp of the concept. This was all done at the walk, and I only asked him to trot on the last leg of the hill on our way back to his paddock.
When he did trot he actually gave me a foxtrot, dropping his hips and lifting his shoulders. I was pleasantly surprised, having never ridden a foxtrot before. It certainly was smooth!