Today was the epitome of miserable spring weather. We had a cold rain all day, and it was chilly, damp, and breezy. We headed for the barn as soon as Brian got home from work, knowing we’d find some pretty unhappy horses.
They were all lined up against the wind block, heads down, butts to the wind. All except Steen, that is, who was eating when we got there but the left the bale before he saw us and started wandering around looking forlorn. As soon as he noticed us at the gate he came hurrying over, walking sideways because of the blowing rain.
He was shaking all over. I’ve seen him shivering and uncomfortable, but these were full-body spasms. I hurried him inside and gave him a generous helping of chopped hay while I worked on swiping the worst of the water off, toweled him down, and then draped his blanket over him.
Brian came in a moment later with Bear and Laredo. They were both shivering too, though not nearly to the extent Steen was. Laredo was the least worried about things and the least quivery. Bear was about as agitated as I’ve ever seen him.
We let Steen stand there and warm up while we got the other two snacks as well and tacked them up. Steen was warm under the blanket and getting dozy, and the rain had stopped by the time we were ready to go. I put him back out with the herd in a much happier state.
Laredo was in a funny mood. He was a little keyed up and responsive enough that he was bordering on reactive. I did enough groundwork with him to make sure he wasn’t going to explode into a bucking horse the second I got on, but didn’t want to do much more than that. Since so often we deal with a low energy problem with Laredo, I wanted to get on while he was still feeling fresh so I could use his energy to my advantage.
He was both soft and a little sticky at the start of the ride. We’ve observed before that he gets a bit confused about the sensation of wearing a saddle when he’s wet. We started with a slow warm up. He was moving off my legs like I’ve never felt before. It was amazing. He was almost as responsive as Steen, though not as precise. Still, we moved through a lot of good movements right away.
Bear was in a similar state. He was loping around looking like a seven year old, all softness and energy at the same time. I joked to Brian that we need to get them wet and slightly chilled more often.
I moved Laredo into the trot, and his energy was good. After a bit, I asked for the lope. I thought there was a good chance he’d get a little wadded up, and he did. I had one moment where I thought I’d made a mistake not bringing him down a few more notches with groundwork. We went around a turn and the saddle shifted slightly. Laredo slammed on the brakes and threw his head between his legs. I thought I was in for a serious launching. But I lifted his nose gently and squeezed him with my calves and he unstuck, looking more confused than anything else. We moved back into the lope. We had one or two more sticky moments, but after a few laps in each direction he evened out and was moving nicely.
So we went back to the cow exercise we played yesterday, again with having Laredo calling the shots. He was great, both at collecting and hanging back when necessary, and at jumping out and chasing Bear down. We had one phase in the middle where we lost it on backing through the turns, but I think it was more to do with me getting into a hurry than Laredo not listening. Throughout the ride he was stopping like nobody’s business. I had to really hunker down and soften up to sit his stops. It was great fun.
After that, I worked for a while just on softening Laredo for a few strides at the walk and the trot. He did so well with this. He lifted off the hackamore like a champ, never leaning or getting grouchy. Here we are (sorry about the blurry) moving forward with a bit of softness.
He was backing really softly as well.
After the ride, he still wasn’t dry but he was in a great mood. With his coat slicked down you can see that he’s getting in better shape, which I think is helping with his energy levels and all around motivation.
We’re supposed to get more rain and cold and even some snow. We blanketed all three of the guys for the first time ever and put them back outside with instructions to keep each other warm.
Ride Time: 0:55
Horseback Hours YTD: 37:45