Pete is around 29 years old now. I say around because we have no actual birth date on him, but a vet looked at him two years ago and proclaimed him 27. Since most horses have a spring birthday I just figure when Gem turns a year older every May so does Pete.
He looks amazing for his age. He is still full of spunk, his coat shines like a mirror and he never misses a meal. His teeth are in pretty good shape and he is still able to forage for grass, eat regular hay and a pelleted feed without fuss. In fact, if anything he remains a bit chubby but I’ll take it.
I start to worry about him though this time of year. While most people worry about getting their senior horses through a winter season, I become a hyper-aware nervous wreck come summer.
Pete is a big horse and he gets hot easily. Every fall I see him breathe a sigh of relief and relax as the cooler temperatures start to arrive and the humidity leaves. Right now though it is the beginning of 3-4 months of heat and high humidity and the poor old man looks exhausted and worried most of the time.
I’m not really sure what all to do for him either. I don’t use fly masks or blankets on him as they just trap more heat in and so he gets sprayed with fly spray instead. He has access to fresh water, a mineral block and the pond right now is flooded up into the back corner of the lower pasture. I’ve caught him in the water belly deep or rolling in the wet mud along the bank on several occasions. When he comes in at night, if he is sweaty and looks uncomfortable he gets a nice cold shower until the water runs cold off his body. He always appreciates that.
A lot of people around here will keep horses in during the heat of the day, but our barn isn’t really good for that. There are no windows for a breeze and the aisle is set facing the wrong direction for the wind as the breeze comes at it from the side and is blocked. Perfect planing to keep it warm in the winter, but it is an oven in there in the summer. Even with fans blowing, it is still way hotter in the barn and he looks even more miserable than if he was outside under the shade trees with a breeze.
His weight is maintaining, he is walking fine and drinking well so I will continue to do the above and keep him as comfortable as possible and wait for fall to come around and bring with it the relief of cooler temperatures. I like that he has a big pasture with lots of shade and water access to roam and keep his joints moving and two friends who don’t pick on him, He seems generally happy with life at the moment and I hope to keep Old Man Winter around for a long time yet.
Trainer had come out last Monday for a rainy lesson and then time slipped away and it was Saturday before I could get on again. Only Dusty worked in the morning and by the time I could have gotten on it was mid 90s and I decided it was safer for both of us to just wait until Sunday morning when it would be cooler.
Sunday morning I hopped on the big guy at 8 am trying to beat the heat a bit. He did great for tacking up and stood still like a gentleman at the mounting block. He even stood still while I mounted and didn’t try to walk away until I asked him to. Which is a great start to the ride as I am adamant my horse stands still while I am at the most vulnerable during mounting up.
I am learning that he needs a bit more time at the start of the ride to get his head in the game, however letting him go around toodling on a loose rein isn’t the best either with his slight ADD tendencies. It is a balancing act I am trying to figure out. Sunday I worked on the walk giving him a little more leeway than in true work mode, but being very consistent with our path and really concentrating on using my outside aides in our turns. Having never been able to play around with stuff like this I have to say how cool it feels to move my horse around using only my outside aides and get a nice sharp, clean turn. I even forced myself to drop my inside rein altogether to not allow the instinctual inside rein pull to turn. By doing it correctly, the turns felt balanced and we kept our rhythm.
I still had the three trot poles in the center of the ring and decided to do a modified Exercise 1 from the 101 Jumping book. I used both “chutes” between the poles to make circles of varying sizes in both directions which really helped me make a plan and adjust for the right leg aide that he likes to ignore. He got the memo pretty quickly that he must turn and while I lose some of my leg aides in the trot as a function of me sucking at it, we managed to improve upon the last two rides quite a bit.
He tried to pull out the head drag pretty early into our trot work, but I combined Trainer’s words with Emma’s visual she commented on my lesson post about sitting deeper in the saddle when he pulls against me instead of getting lifted out and forward and it really, really worked. The biggest change I did and something I really have to work on is not letting my elbows get locked out straight. By keeping them back by my sides and following more he didn’t have a lever to pull against.
Eeyore doesn’t really seem to respond to praise that much but it could be that he still doesn’t have it figured out that he is stuck with me and should care about me. HA! He does respond very well to less work and he quickly figured out that pulling on me wasn’t getting him anywhere. He then tried to curl behind the bit which is another new experience for me, but I remained calm and kept him going through our ever changing circles and directions. Eventually he got pissed off and I could both hear and see the shadow of a very sassy tail shake going on, but he settled well enough and we ended it once he went both directions on both size circles carrying his own head and not swearing at me.
I had wanted to canter some as well, but by that point he was extremely sweaty and there was sweat dripping down my face as well. The time flies when I am on him and what used to be a torture to get more than 20 minutes of work in an arena has turned into me checking my watch to find 45 minutes has flown by and I should probably stop riding and give the guy a break.
I gave him a good shower after, put his dreaded fly mask on him, and sent him outside to be with his friends for the day. I was so happy with him. Sure, he got a bit annoying when my abs were killing me and all I wanted to do was trot in a circle without my arms getting ripped off, but he gave up on it a lot sooner than before and I kept my posture better and I can see an end to this fight in the near future once he realizes he won’t ever win. He is a lot of fun to be on though and I am really excited to keep figuring him out.
In fact, when my surgery for this Friday rescheduled for next week, I texted Trainer and set up a cross country outing for Friday morning!! She immediately learned to never let me pick the time though. She asked me what time, I said early, she said fine, I originally started texting 6:30 am, realized that was probably mean, then changed it to 7:30 and she asked for 8. I’m a morning person, what can I say? Its odd though because well, I have yet to ride Eeyore off property and haven’t even jumped him over stadium jumps since getting him home yet here I am, the biggest wimp on the internet, setting up a cross country school. It would probably be smarter to take him to Trainer’s place first for a lesson “off property” and to school in the arena but I don’t want to miss this chance. My surgery schedule gets really full pretty quickly and I hate to pass up an opportunity to get out on a course. Eeyore has never been cross country schooling before, but he has been trail ridden extensively and reportedly does water, banks and logs on trail just fine. I’m prepared for him to be a little up and probably scream for invisible friends for a while, but he should get down to business quickly if the past is any indication. We will find out!
So fingers crossed we get the go ahead by the farm owner and I get our feet wet on the cross country course!!!
He has been home with me for three weeks now and between the riding and nursing his feet, I’ve logged quite a bit of time with the big guy. There is still a lot to figure out with him, but there are some things about him I’ve come to know.
He isn’t a dumb horse. His gears don’t turn as fast as Gem’s do, but he isn’t dumb either. In fact, he picks up on things quite quickly yet he can still handle repetition without losing his marbles. When he first got home he was an idiot in the cross ties and would try to weave, eat the ties, back up and so on. After a few days of being tied and left while I picked stalls and generally ignored him he now stands like a statue. This was repeated with mounting. The first ride he would not stand still. The second he fidgeted but let me get on. By the fourth ride he stood next to the mounting block politely and didn’t move until I asked.
He is a pain with his head. Bridling him is a chore. He lowers it and takes the bit just fine but actually doing all the buckles and straps is a fight as he moves his head, tries to scratch on everything, mouths you and is generally very annoying. It’s the same with his fly mask too. I’m not sure how to make this stop.
He cribs only when a person is around. He will stand quietly in his stall as long as he doesn’t realize you are anywhere near him. I’ve hidden in the tack room and watched as he props a hoof and goes to sleep in his stall. Once he realzies a person is around and not paying attention to him he begins cribbing or chewing or flinging stuff around. Anything for attention and to Eeyore negative attention is better than no attention.
He poops. A lot. In nearly 9 years of riding, Gem never once pooped in the arena. Eeyore does it every single ride. It is a little pet peeve of mine.
He also sweats a lot. He comes in from the pasture soaked in the evening and in the morning has a layer of salty crust. When I ride he almost immediately breaks out full body. I’m still figuring out how to know when he needs to be done. His saddle pad is always soaked through even after a 15 minute walking warm up and I think I’m going to have to buy extras to ensure a dry pad. Gem rarely sweats. Actually there was a time I worried she had anhydrosis but nope. She’s a hearty little desert Arab with astounding metabolics. This is new territory for me.
After three weeks with the big guy I’ve also decided that he needs a new name. He is way too happy and has way too much energy to be an Eeyore. I’m not sure what to change it to and I’m not in a hurry to do so, but I’m not really liking the Eeyore for him. His registered name is “Made For Fame” which is gag inducing, so no help there. I’d like to represent his true personality which is laid back yet inquisitive and friendly. He has yet to spook at anything: dogs, kiddo, toys left in the arena, tractor, birds. So I think he is brave as well though his bravery stems mostly from his generally curious nature and love of all the things. He does have a bit of a stubborn streak and prefers to put forth the least amount of effort possible but won’t put up a fight for too long as fighting is more work than behaving. Anyway…I’d like to capture that in his name as Eeyore makes him sound gloomy.
Our local tack shop hosts a trivia night every few months. It is $5 to enter, includes pizza and the winner splits the pot 50/50. Trainer invited me to the first one last fall and I was a bit nervous. These are some pretty serious questions ranging from tack to anatomy to basic health care to discipline rules and breeds.
We paired up together and it worked out really well. There are four groups of 10 questions and a bonus at the end and it was quickly evident that what I didn’t know she did and what she didn’t know I did.
Questions like when does a horse get a smooth mouth (age 11) or what is the extra length of reins called in English riding (blight) are definitely in her wheel house. I tend to get the conditioning (best gait for muscle and wind building: trot) medical and basic biology/anatomy questions right (part of the lung responsible for gas exchange: alveoli). Sometimes neither of us know (lowest height acceptable for a barn: 8′. We thought it would be higher) and sometimes we both know.
We won the first time we went and decided to partner again.
We won the second time.
We then won the third time as well.
Last week was another trivia night and the game was changed a bit from solidly asking English discipline questions to including all of them. It was entertaining and enlightening. The questions were much harder and the competition stiffer with more teams than ever before.
We missed some questions such as what discipline uses scissors, flank and flag maneuvers (vaulting) and what is a cowboy speeding ticket (breaking the barrier prematurely in western disciplines) but ended up getting the bonus and ending with a score of 32.5/40.
The best part though? They included a ton of ride and tie and endurance questions! And I got them all right!!!
Things asked included:
When did Mr. Tevis ride in the Tevis Cup (never)
Who was Wendell Robbie (founder of Tevis)
How many people enter Tevis (250, the bonus and I was the only one to get it!!)
What sport allows you to tie to a person (ride and tie)
Which sport has the motto to finish is to win (endurance)
Name three disciplines that use two people and one horse (ride and tie, combined driving and vaulting)
I was so excited to see my beloved sports get a nod!!
We ended up winning again and I got to go home from a tack store with more money in my pocket than I entered with. It’s a pretty good thing and a super fun night out with friends.
Plus Hubby can’t complain when I come home with more money. I keep wondering when they will stop letting us partner up but until that time I plan to continue going and enjoying a night out with friends. Honestly if they split us Trainer would smoke me so I really hope they never do!
Sorry for the delay. Friday was extremely busy at work and I ran out of time. But never fear the results are in!
May was the busiest month with 5 entrants!! Yay!!! Emma had texted me bowing out of the drawing having won two previous times which left Bette, Amy, Olivia and her Hubby in the random drawing.
The winner is:
This month is really starting to heat up so I focused my search on ways to keep cool in the summer. Bette you get two items this month totaling around $20. Please email me your address at agemofahorse at gmail dot com so I can order and get them shipped directly to you.
For everyone else, thanks for giving your time back to the sport of your choice! These events, in any discipline, can’t happen without people giving their time.
June is the end of the second quarter. The prize is based on the person with the highest number of hours for that quarter and is valued at $50. The standings for the quarter looks like this to date:
Bette – 23 Emma – 21.5 Amy – 16 KC – 4 Olivia – 4 Her Husband – 4
There are five weekends in June with plenty of opportunity to get out there. The race is pretty close this quarter, so get out there and get your hours logged!
The blog is becoming very Eeyore centric which is fine as he is my main mount now and well, life is becoming fun with him around both on the ground with his antics and under saddle with his obstinate but still somehow easy going nature.
However, Miss Thing is still around and living large. The last ride I had with her pretty much solidified my decision to no longer do arena work with her. She doesn’t enjoy it and at 20 years old now she doesn’t really have to do much of anything. I’ll still take her on trail rides and to some hunter paces as able but her main job now is looking pretty and eating grass.
What has been amazing though is that our entire relationship has changed. Ever since her partial retirement, she has started greeting me at the gate even when it isn’t dinner time. I don’t remember the last time I had to spend 40 minutes trying to catch her in the pasture. When I am outside she always looks up and notices me and if I call out a greeting she comes over instead of her usual hiding behind a tree or Pete to avoid being seen.
Last week, we had our first mutual grooming experience. She had just been put out after dinner and lingered by the gate which typically means she wants some attention. I went back in and began scratching her itchy spots. In the past, she would tolerate this and eventually move on after a few minutes. Last week though she propped a hind leg, let out a sigh and leaned into the scratches. After 10 minutes, with my hands starting to cramp, she looked over and started grooming my shoulder.
Eeyore then wandered over because Big Goof can’t be left out of anything and started grooming on Gem as well. Pete eventually joined us and all three horses began grooming at which point I bowed out and left them to it.
Honesty, I put the change to the fact that I am no longer asking Gem to do what she hates doing. The pressure is off of her and she can enjoy my company knowing full well that she won’t be forced to do dressage or jump again. It makes me a little sad that I put her through it in the first place, but then I realize that we were doing 18″ jumps and fake-ssage at the walk and trot so really she could have gotten over herself just a tad.
Regardless, are relationship has reached a new level of understanding and companionship that took 9 years and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to. I’m hoping we have another decade together to putz around when able and groom/enjoy each other.