After a few dry years, it’s a glorious and terrifying relief to have a real Highveld summer again: hot, bright days blazing azure and emerald, the afternoons coming with a fanfare of wind to announce the thunderstorms that march over the hilltops like conquering armies. Including lightning. Really loud flashy lightning that sends me under the bedclothes, frantically cuddled by terrified dogs. Said lightning also decided to blow up my PC, hence my silence and now my lack of pictures as this post is being hastily typed on my phone. It has not yet blown up, but is only six weeks old, so may yet decide to join the technological mutiny.
All is well with the Horde and their human. Magic has been giving me some stunning work, including going much more softly in the snaffle and jumping calmly over a rather spooky vertical. The tiny triple of doom also grew up to be an 80cm triple of non-eventfulness, according to Magic, who popped through it without complaint. His brain completely evaporated on a hack recently, but it was so out of character that I’m hoping it was a once-off and won’t happen again next time.
He is in desperate need of a dentist visit to have his teeth floated, though. Maybe that was what set him off.
Arwen has been equally stunning. She’s starting to run a bit fat, so I’ve been a bit more demanding in our sessions. We managed a 38kph gallop recently during which I thought we were all likely to die (we nearly reached the Mutterer’s goal of crying). Her dressage is becoming massively better; she’s considerably lighter in my hand, and her canter is becoming more engaged. Her trot leg-yields are also more flowing and not a fight anymore. Canter lengthenings – or rather, ceasing to do canter lengthenings – are still a bit hairy but not quite as death-defying as they were. She is getting braver with the jumping, including taking the creepy vertical and a 1.00m triple bar in her stride. I love to stare down into the triple bar like a noob, so this was an accomplishment.
Baby Thun is being a superstar. After some weird backwards squiggling around, I managed to explain spins to him and he now does them, albeit extraordinarily slowly. He also reins back with something more approaching speed, or at least rhythm. The poor guy is a large and chunky beast and is probably physically better suited to dressage, but he’s an absolute pleasure to train and I’m loving figuring out reining with him.
His hacking is also doing fine. He does still spook quite violently – a spin and bolt away from the danger – on occasion, but he deals with his fear very maturely as soon as I get him under control. Thun is not a quiet horse at this stage, but his obedience overrules absolutely everything. The moment I say stop he stops, and most importantly as soon as I turn him towards the danger and ask him to go forward, he does it. He might be shaking where he stands but he does what I want. As his confidence grows, I know he’ll be bombproof eventually; I would rather have him a bit jumpy than one of those real blank-faced dead old trail horses.
As for her majesty the warrior queen, she is quite happy with Exavior to look after and Magic to calm down. She loves going on our relaxing little hacks and even carts around beginners for me now and then, although the beginners think I have gone insane. All day I’ve been yelling at them to take charge of their horses, and then suddenly I’m telling them to give her the reins and just sit there. One does not simply take charge of a warrior queen; she usually knows better in any case.
Exavior is living a lazy life of eating and hanging out. I haven’t worked him once. The little dude has been through so much that right now he just needs to learn to be a horse again. He is much better to groom, and much happier in the group; now he needs to learn to play, to run, and to put his big head down when I want him to. The monster beast has already grown out of his first halter…