Tropical Storm/Hurricane (I’m no longer sure which) Michael is currently pummeling us with high winds and an ocean full of rain. I got up early to help tuck the horses in the barn with hay for the day. I don’t think they actually cared about being outside in the rain. The temps are still in the mid 70s so the rain was probably a bit refreshing. They have plenty of natural shelter and instead chose to stand in the middle of the open pasture grazing, but I felt better tucking them in and letting their feet dry so in they went.
Last night though, I grabbed the Orange Beastie for his test ride. Thankfully all four shoes have remained in place and his bell boots seem to be preventing heel grabs. He over reaches with his hinds just hand walking him. You can hear his hind hoof hit the front as you walk him in/out of the barn, so I was a bit skeptical they would remain. I love to be proven wrong.
I put the Kieffer on him and still really like the fit. The cut back pommel gives him plenty of wither room and the panels tuck behind his massive shoulders nicely. It remains a size too small for me, but it is serviceable for now. Anyway…he lunged sassy and bit bratty trying to reach down and grab bites of grass (yup my arena still sucks and I can’t get anyone to actually show up to an appointment to quote me) but with a firm hand he got the memo that it was time to work. He threw in some bucks and squeals for funsies and was perfectly sound both directions.
I’ll admit to a bit of trepidation getting on him all alone in the arena. His theatrics were a tad impressive on the lunge and I wasn’t feeling particularly brave in a slightly too small saddle. He stood to be mounted (a feat that took about a month to instill in him) and off we walked. You know how you try to do what is right and think you are but then realize you weren’t the entire time and feel like shit?
Yeah. That was me.
Not only did he give me a gloriously forward and long strided walk, but his entire back felt freer and he was much happier with his existence. Sorry, buddy. I love the way he moves in the Kieffer and with shoes/not sore feet.
I don’t love the sass and he kept trying to curl back and offer up more than I was asking which awarded him with a ton of turns of direction and random halts to keep his feet moving and his brain engaged. I still haven’t figured out if he is really stupid or wicked smart yet. Really it is a toss up most days.
On to the trot work and um…where on earth did this guy come from? No more shuffling old man gait. Nope. He was on fire. He kept asking to canter instead and I’d continually bring him back and make him trot. He would then try to curl behind the bit and that rewarded him with a boot forward. This is all evasion behavior, by the way. Why trot nicely and use the hind end when you can blow out all the shoulders and whip around and pretend you have no idea what being a gentleman is all about? Maybe I’ll get scared and get off. When that didn’t work he began halting and standing there with his ears back on me like “Ok…that was fun. We are done now though.”
Big Orange Beastie has enjoyed his vacation.
I didn’t work him too much because the storm was blowing in and the skies were looking pretty angry. By the time I got off and put him out they opened up, so I stopped just in the time. While it wasn’t the best ride ever, and was a bit frustrating in all honesty, I’m glad he is feeling better and he was without a question 100% sound. He wasn’t bad by any means, just feeling fresh and sassy and trying to get out of going back to work. I know with a consistent schedule again he will return to his normal pliable self. I don’t fully trust that he won’t throw a buck or a small rear in there for fun, so I am a bit more tense and rigid than I know I should be. He isn’t the only one out of riding shape.
With him feeling better, I got back on trainer’s schedule for a lesson next week and asked if she would hop on him first to get a feel for him and help with a plan. She was game, so that will be fun!