Dear Santa, Define Good?

So here we are at the beginning of October.  You expect to see Halloween items in the store right now, but I’ve been in two stores recently and there right next to the Halloween costumes and decor, are the Christmas ornaments and the inflatable Santas.  Before we know it, Santa will be toting gifts in a pumpkin while riding a turkey.  I mention Christmas because both my equine boys will be getting new halters from Santa this year since they are hell-bent on destroying their current ones.  Well, if they behave, they will be getting gifts.  Cigar’s motto is “go ahead and put me on the naughty list.”  He likes to live on the edge.  Ike has been listening to his brother way too much recently.  His behavior today exceeded expectations for naughty.  When I yelled at him, Ike asked for clarification on the definition of good – I informed him that public outings top the list for good behavior expectations as well as listening to my aids while astride.  He was non-committal. and tried to steal the treats in my pocket.

From his forward thinking behavior today, I am led to believe that Ike is feeling better.  Mr. D watched my warm up and the first part of my ride and noted that he saw no abnormal movement or kinks.  That was the good news of the day.  Most of my ride was quality work today.  We nailed our canter transitions that have bugged us the past week.  Our trot loops were smoother and Ike actually reached into my contact for the stretch down trot circle.  So since things are going so well, I say to myself, “Self, let’s try some shoulder in and see if we can get that right hind to really come up and under.”  Maybe I got too greedy.  When I tapped Ike with the whip behind my right leg, that is when things got a little out of control.  That slight tap was obviously the signal for “let’s practice our canter lengthening…oh heck, let’s just run really, really fast.”  We were off to the races, and Ike wasn’t going to listen to anything I had to say until he was good and ready.  After close to 5 minutes, Ike finally heard my request to SLOW DOWN!  Spent the next 10 minutes walking him on a long rein to cool him down.  It was a bit warm and humid today and Ike was lathered after his jaunt;  I actually had to hose him down before tucking him in for the night.

Quite the day.  I’m hoping that this breaking bad behavior is temporary and that the schooling show on Sunday will be smooth sailing.  If Ike decides to test the definition of good again, I am doomed.


The Horse World Shrinks to the Size of My Laptop

The internet is a double-edged sword.  It is a way to waste hours and have nothing to show for your time, but it is also an amazing place where I have helped network animals needing homes, learned of the amazing work animal rescues do on a daily basis, and interacted with some cool horse-minded people who I would never have met otherwise.  Case in point, I’m cruising Facebook one night recently and come across a group called Dressage for Adult Amateurs.  There are only 504 members currently.  When you join, they ask you to share something about yourself, so I mention that I’m bringing along a Dutch Harness Horse in dressage and post a photo of Ike…and this is where the world shrinks to about 2 degrees of separation or whatever the proper number is.  A fellow adult amateur posts that she knows my horse, has ridden other horses belonging to his breeder, that he sold before she could ride him and that he is a snuggler and very sweet.  Say what?!  Amazing.  There are millions and millions of people on Facebook, and I find someone who has met Ike.

And speaking of the big man, he and I have a date on Sunday and our ride times arrived yesterday evening.  We ride at 4:08 and 4:50 p.m.  We are the final horse down centerline on Sunday.  Is that a good or a bad thing?  We have been the first down centerline this year, first in our class order, but never the last rider of the day.  Saving the best for last?  Ha!  Our competition includes a horse that earned a 77% for Training Level Test 2 in the class that Ike received a 66%.  We have our work cut out for us.

Luckily Ike is getting back to his fighting form.  For the past two days, we practiced our trot loops, trot circles, centerline halts, turns onto and off of centerline, canter transitions, and the dreaded canter turn onto long diagonal and trot at X.  The stiffness is waning, but if it is still noticeable next week, I will have the vet come out to see if chiropractic adjustment or acupuncture can help speed the healing process.  Since Ike is doing his part for the team, I suppose I will do my part and memorize Test 3.  This will be our first time out for Test 3 – turn left off centerline, trot loop (it is a loop, not a triangle, a smooth curve, not an abrupt change of direction), canter after….half halt constantly on the short end to prevent knocking the arena over, SCREECH- turn onto the long diagonal, then the dreaded trot transition at X…..or in the general vicinity if we are lucky.  Sunday is going to be an interesting day!