Wet.

Monday it rained all day and all night long in a steady, quiet deluge that soaked right down into the earth. After a day’s sunshine, we’ll be able to hear the grass growing. The fields were thrilled. The lunge ring, not so much. Even the grass arena, which is usually OK, was a mud bath.

So this week became the Week of Hacking. And with our beautiful Highveld in full summer splendour, I’m not complaining too loudly.

“my office”

Midas and Sunè deserved an easy week anyway, so I’ve only taken the two of them for hacks. Sunè has hacked before under head groom T, so it was no surprise when she was totally unbothered by anything. This appears to be Sunè’s MO.

Midas was very bold and excited to be on a new adventure until the big Holstein heifers all came galloping over to see what he was. This was apparently terrifying, although I can’t blame him seeing how they’re bigger than him. To his credit he didn’t get out from under me or rear, but he was cantering on the spot in abject horror. Poor little chap. He dealt well with birds, dogs running in the grass and tall brush – just not cows, please.

did I mention it was pouring rain?

Jamaica has actually been working hard this week, particularly on jumping. His flatwork is finally solid enough that we can really get over fences again, and he was being good but careless in front, so we built him a gymnastic line. He nearly fell on his face once, but this motivated him to start picking up his knees and he was jumping really nicely in the end.

Lancelot got to jump the same gymnastic, which has been excellent for his confidence. He is very careful but not yet confident cantering fences because he doesn’t know where to jump yet, but the gymnastic showed him where to put his feet and he was so good we picked the fences up to about 60cm and he didn’t bat an eye. Even with Z-kid aboard!

Tara has been great this week, too. She doesn’t have a violent bone in her body. We’ve moved on to working in the big arena in walk and trot, adding a few steps of canter where we can.

awww pretty T ❤

Zara was a little lame with a hoof abscess, but goes sound again now so I got back on board. I don’t think I long-lined her and Tara enough, and I’m regretting it now. Their mouths aren’t exactly hard, but responsiveness is being harder to get. It is improving though. We had walk and trot in the big arena as well, with minimal drama.

Destiny progressed to the long lines and had one enormous violent tantrum before he remembered it doesn’t work on me and then decided to use his powers for good. He’s got a nice enough mouth when he listens, so I look forward to steady progress now that the worst of the resistance is past us.

post-tantrum sheepish obedience

We also had a tremendous breakthrough with dear Nugget this week. It didn’t start out well when she decided to try and take a chunk out of my arm, whereupon almost by reflex I gave her one across the nose. I regretted it instantly, but as it turns out it was really not a bad thing. She instantly realised that I would not be walked all over but that I also wasn’t going to actually hurt her, and since then we’ve made huge progress. I have to feed her from my hand and go slowly, but I can catch her every morning and gently groom her main body and mane. And I managed to get her out of that ghastly old green halter and into something pink and cheerful.

There is light in her eye again. She’s not going to give up on trying to find joy again, and neither am I. I get the feeling God’s got a high calling for this broken little horse if she’d only be brave.

also wins at the evil mare face

Exavior had his teeth done, for which he was quite a jerk but not malicious. We managed to remove the wolf tooth that had been causing so much drama and it’s so small you can barely even see it.

stretch li’l human stretch
The tooth is the teeny brown thing, the little speck you can hardly see. The rest of it is gum tissue that came out with it because he was plunging around like an idiot. Don’t plunge around for your teeth, idiot.

The Mutterer will start to ride Xave for me next week, so I’ve just been lunging him. He’s angelic on the ground again, so God willing, soon I’ll be back on board that big, beautiful jerk of a horse.

God’s got this. Glory to the King.

Golden Pony Updates

Last time I wrote about the little golden dude, I had just put his first saddle on him and commented that soon I’d be swinging a leg over at the rate he was going. For once, I was right.

Poor little Midas has been progressing slowly through the months for only one reason – the hapless creature has found himself being a resale pony on a schedule full of paying clients’ horses, so he always ends up being the one that gets missed when the wheels fall off. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that working intermittently with a newly-backed isn’t the greatest idea, but the little guy has been holding up just fine. Every session is better, every time we figure out something new and he just gets it. He’s been an absolute pleasure.

I was very relieved to find that his attitude issues on the ground do not happen under saddle. He’s not bad – just late gelding, little pony stuff. Pulls his ears and pretends like he doesn’t need you. A teenage boy packaged into 13.1 hands of sassy pony. But I never let him get away with any of that under saddle, so he never does any of it.
I love his gaits, too. The walk is brisk, forward and together, just the way I like it; the canter balanced and powerful, and fairly supple with the leads. His trot is dead boring but that’s no matter considering I’m aiming for him to be a good jumping pony. Besides, you can always school a trot to be good.

The only health problem we’ve had from him so far. He was fine when I tacked him up and like this when I got off. This is the most dramatic hives I’ve ever seen. It was gone by that evening after some cortisone, but the poor little chap was quite miserable!

We have just progressed to cantering laps on the correct lead out in the big arena/glorified field. He tossed a buck here and there when he couldn’t figure out his leads, but as soon as he got that worked out the bucking stopped. Typical confused baby horse stuff, he’s not going to be a proper bucker. He’s also a little on the spooky side. We’ll have to see how that changes as he grows up and gains confidence.

I can’t fault his intelligence and trainability. He really tries, and he’s got a lot of material to try with, both in physical ability and in brainpower. Definitely a very firm favourite with me, I look forward to competing him this year, starting with Horse of the Year and SANESA in February. After that, wherever this epitome of a pocket rocket takes us.

After selling Bruno came the best thing about resale: getting to go shopping for a new one. It took me ages, but I finally managed to find a registered young Nooitie mare who was all of 13.3hh. Also sweet-natured and a flashy mover, the little lady had colour to boot: meet my new little golden pony.
Sadly, it hasn’t been quite the fairytale that it was with Midas. He arrived with all his ground manners and basic citizenship skills. She was unhandled when I met her, but the breeder offered to get her halter trained so that we could box her easily. I gratefully accepted. Huge mistake. Pony was unhandled when we met, but now she is violently terrified of people. Sure, she’ll follow you around on the end of a lead – if by any chance you can catch her. Which takes me half an hour, in a stable, with food, on a good day.

Her registered name is too similar to some of the other horses’ to use, so we just call her Nugget because she’s a little gold nugget. And she breaks my heart. She was so soft-eyed and uncomplaining and now she’s torn between terror and desperate aggression. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a horse actually do what the books say they do – turn aggressive when cornered. She’s not a bad girl; her whole body just screams fear; she truly believes she’s fighting for her life.
Poor little soul. I wish I could speak her language better so I can tell her that she’s safe now, that nobody will ever hurt her again. Maybe it wouldn’t do much good even if I could. These things aren’t mended by what you say, I suppose. It’s a longer, harder, better journey of loving action after loving action, and I pray to God that I’m up for it because Nugget doesn’t have other options.

She deserves better. She will get better.

God willing. Glory to the King.