Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Making an Effort

Back in January I started keeping a horsemanship journal.  The idea behind it was that I wanted to do something with the horses each day, even if it was just two minutes of teaching them to lower their heads.  A variety of things got in the way of me doing anything beyond feeding them, but at least I've got a record of where I left off.

I really wanted to start riding regularly in October this year, because I usually don't get into the swing of things until December, and by then I've got the winter visitor population explosion to deal with, which includes fifty times more traffic on the roads that I have to cross on horseback, and fifty times more traffic on the bridle trails, most of which are people who don't know trail etiquette around horses.  It kind of takes all the fun out of riding.

The problem with this October has been the rapid rise in temperatures in the mornings.  Before sunrise, it can be down in the 60s and once the sun comes up, it can reach the 80s and 90s in no time.  I'm finding that my body cannot acclimate to such a rapid change.  It feels more like 120 degrees to me, and I sweat profusely.  All I want to do is stay indoors in the air conditioning.  This month has been disappointing because the weather forecasters keep promising daytime temperatures in the 80s, and then raising them to the 90s week after week.  We have a high pressure system socked in over us, so it still feels like summer.  Yuck.

The horses have been stir crazy.  They want me to take them out and ride them.  Yesterday I managed to take Lostine for a walk, and she looked so happy to have a change in scenery.  She didn't want to go back to the barn, but I could see that her legs were getting tired and wobbly, so I took her back anyway.

This morning I fed the horses by flashlight, hoping that they would finish their breakfast before it got too hot outside.  Still, by 9:00 AM when they did finish, I was questioning whether I wanted to ride in the heat.  I knew I had to ride in the arena at the very least.  Bombay was my willing victim this time.

Each time I tack him up, I experience disbelief over how easy it is.  He's so calm about getting dressed for a ride, and he even sticks his nose in the bridle and opens his mouth for the bit without any guidance.

He automatically collects himself for a smooth ride, reminding me how well trained he is.  Riding in the arena really shows off the difference in training levels with my horses.  They can't just follow a trail, but have to listen to my cues on where to go next and how fast.  I would say that Bombay is definitely my most well trained horse.  He's so in tune with me that he does what I'm thinking before I even give the cue.

I had a buyer interested in him last year.  When she took her test ride, she kicked him, and I could see by the expression on Bombay's face that he was horrified.  All he needs is a slight adjustment of the seat or a tiny squeeze of the legs to go.  I've never had to kick this horse.  I should have told the lady who was test riding him, because he looked pissed afterwards.  The lady contacted me several months later asking about him, and I told her I decided to keep him.  Each time I ride him, I think, "How can I put a horse who is this responsive and well trained up for sale?  I've put nearly twenty years into working with him and we are a finely tuned machine."

But then summer comes and I think, "I can't keep taking care of this many horses.  It's too hot and I'm too old."

I really wish I could sell Gabbrielle, because she's constantly getting on my last nerve.  I feel like I spend more time throughout each day disciplining her for misbehavior than I do taking the dogs outside to pee, and you know I spend a tremendous amount of time taking the dogs out.  Every extra barn management task that I have in my routine is to prevent Gabbrielle from causing problems.  It seems that every day she is coming up with some new behavior that is totally obnoxious.  She needs someone who can keep her busy and tuckered out.

Bombay resting in the shade between Gabbrielle and Lostine's favorite pee spot.

He's so perfect until he hears a noise or sees movement, and then the head and ears go on alert.  Fortunately, he doesn't spook as much as he used to.  He even sleeps while I undress him.

That's one of the benefits of having an older horse.  He's as tired as I am most days.

The jeans I recently found that the coyotes stole have been shredding because they got brittle in the sun, so I gave the horses one of my old softball T-shirts from when my daughter played in high school.

The boys play tug-o-war and the carriage game with it.


When Rock loses interest in playing, Bombay swings it around like a lasso.

1 comment:

KateRose said...

They are so cute playing with their "toys" haha!