Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring cleaning!

April 6

Today was spring cleaning day! Haha. Link already looks pretty good because I've been using the shedding blade on him regularly, but Koolaid and Silver are another story altogether! Those two haven't set sight on a grooming tool all spring yet, hehe.


Lil' grape-coloured horse was first up. His knee is looking much better - less swelling, very very little heat, and full range of motion. First job was to take the shedding blade to his coat...his very very thick coat. Koolaid's summer coat is always thinner than Silver's, yet his winter coat is thicker than Silver's - explain to me how that makes any sense. Grey hair flew everywhere, up my nose included, thank-you very much. Afterwards Koolaid got a little jawline trim, a bridlepath, and a shortened mane...he actually looks like a possible jumper or dressage horse now instead of some ragged little pony haha...

Definitely not as heavy-coated as Koolaid, but he got the full makeover as well: trimmed jawline, shedding blade, trimmed tail so he's not tripping on it...leaving his mane long though reining style hehe. He was a little excited, but after swallowing no less than 34 1/2 white hairs, I did saddle him up and take him out for a spin! What I had planned to be a 20 minute ride or so turned into just under an hour - it was so nice out I couldn't resist! The breeze was warm, the sun was out...aahh, utter heaven. We started out with some basic work in the nearby field, sidepass, leg yields, turns on the forehand, spins on the hind, w/t/ it was amazing to feel the jog of a solid horse! It was so amazing to ride a smooth and accomplished jog in lieu of a green horse's trot you have to post to. I wasn't sure how Silver would go for me - it's been a little while, but the ride was fantastic!!

Today, heading out to the pasture, I had to tromp through a lot of muck and water...5 words: thank GOD for waterproof boots. I was utterly ecstatic to have dry feet through all that! At one point I FELL through a sheet of snow I thought was shallow into a POOL of water that submerged my foot completely. So anyways, there I am, standing next to a haltered Little Yellow Horse (LYH), staring out over a sea of mud in an attempt at determining the best path to the gate. There wasn't one. Then the thought occurred to me. Why am I plotting ways of best mudding myself when there is a perfectly good horse with 4 legs, a mane, and a tail (aka perfectly capable of carrying me across the Great Ocean of Mud), standing next to me quietly munching hay? So I did the only thing any reasonable human being would do. I fashioned a set of reins out of the leadrope, jumped onto the nearest feed tire, and from there hopped onto a green horse's back. LYH was a little unsure at first but picked her way carefully through the mud and safely toted me to the gate that seperates the mare pasture from the gelding pasture. Since I had not yet had my fill tempting fate, I even hopped on her in the gelding pasture (this time I used the roundbale feeder)...clutching Link's leadrope in one hand and annoyedly waving off geldings like flies with the other hand. Not only did she carry me as I ponied Big Black Kid to the gate, but she carried me and led Link to the barn too (after my literally flying leap onto her back from my perch on the gate)...very calmly and quietly too.

Flew through our ground games and patterns (using only cones for the figure-8 and weave patterns, rather than barrels for the figure-8) with her doing well as per usual. Under-saddle she was a little lacking in momentum for the canter, but otherwise she was great and very light. We picked up the canter 3 or 4 times on the right rein; the first time she was on the wrong lead, the second time she felt like she was crossfiring, but she picked up the correct leads in the end (3rd or 4th try) and was fairly relaxed about it so we ended on a good note! A very successful session!

Well he ponied well! Haha. He actually stood tied for a little while and was say a 5/10 for anxiety rather than the 10/10 he usually is...minimal head bobbing, no pawing that I saw, and I closed my eyes so missed the odd sashay around the spot he was tied. When I untied him he was actually very quiet (so obviously his anxiety level had not climbed all that much) and even stood ground tied (for the most part...his little lips insisted on playing with a few things - they're his hands as a toddler lol) while I groomed him. Our 7 games were great; yo-yo is so hugely improving each session (it's getting so light!!!!) and he remained at a calm LB trot during the circling game, traveling circle, and changes in direction. We even picked up some superific downwards transitions! I also started out our ground session with some switchbacks just to clear up our communication, earn his trust, and get him LB when I asked a lot of him....sort of raise his threshhold level. The weave at the trot was great on his left side and at the walk on his right side...but there was no getting any trot on that right side. So we took it back a few steps. What about my running alongside him in a straight line, cones and weave pattern aside? No way, he'd get RB and take off. I tried over and over, moving closer to him each time, but nothing worked. Jogging alongside him along the arena wall was the worst for him, it was like a continuous squeeze and he couldn't seem to trust me at all. The whites of his eyes would show and he'd BOOM!! hit flight mode. Finally I thought the best way I could convey my goodwill towards him was to be right in his space and jog next to him. I had yet to fill my "tempt fate" quota: the only way I was going to achieve my quota of the day was to jog in close quarters with a right-brained horse I knew would likely kick me in self-defense if he flew off the deep end...which was likely. Hand on his withers, I coaxed him into a trot. I kept his lead short this time though and sort of corrected him back into a slower jog. My hand and being in his space actually really seemed to calm him, and it enabled me to keep him from going Dante's Peak on me. He wanted to speed up but I gently applied pressure to his lead and talked to him gently, my hand on his withers as I jogged next to him along the long side of the arena wall. Got my treadmill exercise in for the day!! We did a few rounds of this with short breaks in between (during which he was entirely left-brained) before I started gradually moving greater and greater distances away from him during the jog; we finished with my jogging a good 3 or 4 feet away from him on a loose lead!! It doesn't seem like a whole lot, but to have him jogging comfortably on a loose lead next to me on that right side was a huge challenge for us and I feel we made a lot of progress today - more to do for sure, but I feel like we've made a dent. We did a couple minutes of figure-8 at the trot around cones before calling it a day. I was too tired to ride a third horse, particularly after jogging the Kentucky Derby and running around all day. Link was a terrific partner today!!!!

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