The look you get from your horse when you tell him that, yes indeed, the veterinarian noticed his winter weight gain, and that we will be cutting back on his daily rations..and yes that is mud caked on the left side of his body. Probably also an opinion about his feeding regimen.
What “fun activity” allows you to spend hours with your horse without ever sitting in the saddle??
At least it is 72 degrees today rather than the subarctic temperatures we faced last month with Cigar. And, yes, I would rather be riding rather than doing what I am doing…
There has been a lot of time for reflection this winter. Mother Nature has reminded us repeatedly that she is in charge and we had better respect her authority. Weeks of beyond brutal, face numbing cold, a little snow, and now flooding rains mean that I spend more time thinking about riding rather than actually being in the saddle.
Sadly, I care more about not riding than does my horse. He is entertaining himself by standing on his overturned water trough (just the front hooves thankfully…for now), breaking fence boards, and testing the hot wire…you see when you realize the hot wire is off, playtime with your brother is so much more fun as is reaching over the fence to eat the tree.
I can share that we did earn some year end awards from both our local chapter and at the state level. It was nice to have our work recognized and to have work worthy of recognition. Now to build on that success and continue the journey.
When we can ride, we have been strengthening Ike’s ability to carry himself. Incrementally we are building our collection in the trot and canter. Slowly but surely we are seeing improvements in our work. The plan is to stay at Third Level and to get scores consistently in the mid-60’s before we move on to Fourth Level. Luckily Ike’s rider is finally figuring out correct half pass alignment. Hopefully that coupled with better collection and clean flying changes will mean higher scores and fewer “needs more ____” comments. Once we master those skills, poor Ms. C can face teaching me the coordination I will need for tempi changes. I fear it will be reminiscent of tap class or gymnastics – lots of flailing with little accomplished. Stay tuned.
One of my biggest concerns for the coming year is Ike’s lack of tail. He managed to rub a significant portion of it out last summer and what is left barely qualifies as a tail. We have moved into Appaloosa territory, and I am researching hair weaves for horses. It is too embarrassing to share a photo. Well, I am embarrassed; Ike is rather blasé about the situation. He might change his tune when the bugs return and he has no tail to swat them away.
As I reflect on our journey thus far, I am grateful for my equine partner’s willingness. He is not the most gifted dressage athlete, but he more than makes up for that with his heart and his try. He gives me everything he has when I ask him to try new skills. He has become rather adept at interpreting my requests. The year to comes holds so much promise. Let us hope it will also be worthy of recognition.