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April 17, 2014: Horse Training: Alys on Lifre

Yesterday Pete rode Lifre and I rode Raudi. Both horses behaved in an exemplary fashion—it was like their respective positive energy fed off of one another, rather than vice-versa. I was so encouraged by what I saw that today I decided to ride Lifre. I did this because I was certain that he’d do just fine. Otherwise, timid I would have passed on riding him. As it turned out, I was right about his being a reliable riding horse.

I first made a tack change. Pete’s been riding his summer mount in a hackamore that (at least in my estimation) is too far down his nose and a tad bit large for him. The analogy I made was that this was like wearing oversized flip flops. It could be done, but such things are not all

that comfortable. I also could not see how one could get much lateral movement out of a horse with this kind of contraption.

I’d heard previously that Lifre was adverse to having a bit in his mouth – this was why Nick was riding him in a bitless bridle. However, he didn’t at all mind it once in was in place. (I put together a bridle especially for him, using Signy’s French link snaffle bit and Raudi’s trail halter-bridle.) I also rode with as light a hand as I could manage.

The entire time, Lifre was a perfect gentleman. He did everything that I asked while we were on our hour-long road ride, including serpentines and circling. Raudi was also pleased with this new riding arrangement, and she “allowed” Lifre to walk next to her. When I rode her with Signy, one of the other would always be in front.

The down side to all this is that Lifre is out of shape. This is because he hasn’t been ridden in some time. So right now, riding him is like riding a lump of clay.

I’m really pleased with how things are going with Lifre. In hindsight, we took a risk in taking him on. And the first few days he was here were indicative of this. Lifre and Tinni did not get along together at first. And he was initially a handful when under saddle for Pete. However, herd dynamics have been established. Tinni avoids Lifre, and Lifre avoids Raudi. Round and round they go.

The question is, what does the immediate future hold for those of us here at Squalor Holler? The answer is riding, lots of riding, once the trails dry up. I took the dogs for a walk today, and discovered that the trails are a mess. The snow has partially melted, leaving overflow areas and mud patches. I would very much like to take lessons on Lifre because he’s so easy going and so willing. I hope that I might do this soon.

Pete and I are really going to have to get the miles in if Pete and I are serious about doing the competitive trail ride. Time remains of the essence. But it will be easy (no matter what) to make working with all the horses a priority, especially if the weather remains dry and warm.

Next: 108. 4/18/14: Ride Safe: Wear a Helmet