Today was a good horse day. I rode 3, and all three rides were pleasant and productive.
First was Jaguar Key (aka “Jag”), a middle aged thoroughbred. He had a few fantastic rides with his person Sarah over the past couple weeks, but the last couple were not so stellar. He was getting fussy, tossing his head, and while not being downright bad, just not being real cooperative either. It was time for a little tune-up. When he came in from outside, he had a little swollen bump on his cannon bone, and a small scrape below his fetlock. It didn’t look like much, but I popped him on the lunge line real quick just to make sure he looked sound on it. He trotted a few minutes both directions, and sure enough looked fine. I tacked up and got on, expecting all the fussing and head tossing that Sarah put up with in her lesson over the weekend. He walked nicely, reaching into contact and bending both directions. Then I asked for trot. As soon as he went to do the transition, his back hollowed, his head came up, and he went to rush off. I sat back and made him walk again. That is not how I like to trot. I put him back together and asked him for the trot and he fussed and danced sideways and refused to go forwards if I wouldn’t let him put his head up in the air. I sat on him quietly but firmly, holding the reins and nudging him with my legs. He danced sideways some more, then began backing up. I was hoping I was doing the right thing, and continued to sit quietly, insisting. Being the sensible guy that he is, it only took him a minute to decide his tantrum was more work than trotting would be, and he trotted off. He went softly to the bit, his back up and his stride relaxed and balanced. For the rest of the ride he went like this. It was the most consistent I have ever seen him be. It was like once he decided he would do it, there was no more reason to discuss it. I kept my hands quiet and my body out of his way, and he trotted around and around on a solid but soft contact, steady and relaxed. I never had to do more than a subtle half-halt (which he is taking quite nicely now… good work Sarah!), and he just chugged along. I was quite proud of him today!
Next was Penguin, the mischevious black and white paint. He has been known to test the limits… repeatedly. If you give him an inch, he takes a mile… and then some. He will push all your buttons, just to see what happens. But, other times he gets down to business and his great breeding, athletic build, correct conformation, and flashy coloring combine to produce quite an appealing picture. Today was one of those days. He came out ready to work. He was soft and round, moving forward with steady even strides. We did circles and figure 8’s. We did transitions and some baby leg-yields. He never said no, he never asked why. I’m not sure what he had for breakfast, but he should have it every day, he was just awesome!
Liam was last today. He got only a short ride, but I wanted to at least move him around some because he had the last 2 days off. I also wanted to try my saddle on him without the riser pad I usually use. It’s a foam pad to snug up the front of the saddle, and although it doesn’t seem to bother him, I started thinking his back may be more comfortable without it, or with my sheepskin pad instead. The saddle seemed to fit ok without it, so I think he is getting more muscle on the sides of his big thoroughbred withers. I haven’t decided yet if it fits ok enough not to use the riser anymore or not though, so maybe I will try a few more days and see. The ride was nothing to write home about, but enjoyable none the less. I love Liam’s willingness to work and his desire to please.
All three boys got candy canes after their rides 🙂