Today was a good day with one interesting little interval that left me at a loss as to whether I should laugh or cry or both. It involved a colt with his foot in a haynet, me rapidly ditching the horse I was schooling to swoop to the rescue wielding my Excalibur (pocketknife), and the horse then promptly rolling on the dressage saddle. Thankfully, we had just managed to cut the colt loose when my client spotted the rolling horse and I tore across the arena bellowing “GET UP!” The poor filly leapt to her feet in abject terror of this flying, screaming, knife-brandishing creature with her reins, pulled loose from the saddle to which I’d attached them when I went on my colt-saving quest, flopping around her knees. I could just see this day getting rapidly worse, so I stopped and spoke in a more normal tone and luckily she was smart enough to recognise me. Relieved that the harpy had been replaced by her odd little friend/boss/annoyance, she stood still, I got back on and we could resume the session with everything intact except possibly my nerves.
Craziness aside, I do have enough moments of sanity to progress with the ponies. (A horse training memoir entitled Pony’s Progress, anyone?)
Magic has recovered from his bout of colic/biliary, although he has lost quite a lot of weight. I would have scored him at a 4 or 5 before the colic and he’s dropped down to about a 3.5. I was pretty worried about him at one point, so a bit of weight loss is nothing to complain about; TLC and good feeding will fix it in no time. I gave him a generous rest, to be on the safe side, but when he started running around his paddock and looking lively again, I started him back in light work. I was dying to try out the French link I’d bought for him, so I put him in that for his first lunging session yesterday with a pair of side reins to give him a feeling for it. Lo and behold, he absolutely loved the bit. I barely had to tighten the side reins at all to get him moving in a beautiful frame. He did throw his head up and panic a few times, but I’ll put that down to not having worked for some time, because when his brain was on he went forward into the contact without a qualm. Really hoping I can wean him off the Kimberwick and onto this snaffle, at least for flatwork.
He was quite level-headed in his lunging session and didn’t have any bucking fits, so I felt fine with riding him again today. I did use the Kimberwick. I tend to be on the cautious side with Magic, because I’ve learned the hard lesson that pushing us both too hard too quickly only results in tension and fear. He was a real star; went calmly into the contact, didn’t rush his canter or panic about the transitions, and even gave me a quite nice walk-canter transition with two or three trot steps. I didn’t do anything that worries him much and even changed rein in free walk, mostly because I don’t want to get his heart rate up too high, just in case any negative effects still lingered from the biliary.
I decided to try Arwen in the French link as well, since she has started leaning on her eggbutt when she gets bored and I might as well see what she likes best. She was very good for our schooling session today, really light in my hand in walk and trot, although as usual her canter needs a lot of work. (She canters perfectly on cross-country courses or anywhere at shows, but at home? Forget it. I blame it on the sloped arena and unreliable footing). Her leg-yields in trot were the best they have ever been. We didn’t do anything too hard, because I wanted to just run through the three dressage tests I’m riding on a client horse in a show this weekend. They’re the first three Prelim tests, so nothing rough, but the abundance of transitions really got her concentrating and lighter in my hand. I think most of Arwen’s leaning is related to her lack of longitudinal balance; she’s light enough on uphills and the flat stretches directly after uphills, and carries herself well on downhills, but as soon as we turn off the downhill and onto the flat she sort of collapses onto my hands. It’s like balancing on the downhill has temporarily drained her strength. I’m hoping this is true, because then on a flat arena it should be a pretty easy fix.
Thunder has done mostly hacking this week and is starting to enjoy it better. He can be spooky, but only when there’s something to spook at, and it’s not a dirty spook. He just shies, maybe spins to stare at it, nothing more; and usually I’m ready for it when it happens. The rest of the time he’s a total jewel. He has absolutely no reservations about going out alone, in fact he strides out with great enthusiasm because he just loves spending time with his beloved person. He knows that when I drive down to the paddock in the pickup it means work – I always walk down to feed – but whenever he sees the pickup coming he canters over to the fence, and gives me a whiskery kiss/nudge as I get out. I think I might die if he gets any more adorable.
As for Skye, I don’t say much because I don’t know what to say. Her lameness is about grade 2, at its worst. Usually it’s barely noticeable; impossible to feel in walk, very mild in trot. At the moment, we just hack around at a walk with the odd little lope when she’s feeling especially fiery (sometimes this is not part of my plan, but who can stop a warrior queen?). I’m looking around for a professional to X-ray her leg and just confirm that it is arthritis in her knee and not something more sinister. But you know what? I need that horse that I can just hack around and not feel bad about it. I need the horse where I can toss on a bridle and plug around bareback without a care in the world, no pressure to school, no pressure to condition, just mental and physical relaxation. I need the horse that steps out with patience, spirit and 100% reliability into the spring air that smells faintly of summer and mostly of a sweetly sorrowful yearning for the long days and warm nights to come. And I’m grateful that my brave charger is that horse for me.
In hindsight, I suppose, she’s always been what I need, when I need it.
Thank You, my King.