I had much work to do; pens to drag, fence to repair, piles to load into the dump trailer, etc etc etc. I managed to get some done, take a break, get more done, take another break. It kept me from getting too over heated, yet kept me moving all day.
About the time the sun started to go down I grabbed a paint horse and my crappy a$$ trimming tools. At this point I am going to insert reason #865 of "Why I love this horse".
He will stand there so patiently while I fumble around under neath him trying to play "Hoof Trimmer". I mean he literally will not move, will not pull away, will lean on me, he just stands there so nice. At one point I needed to grab something out of the shed, and his foot was in the cradle. I said, "Stay there Bud, I'll be right back." And literally it was only a few seconds, ten tops, but he stayed put. He turned his head to see what I was doing, but his foot stayed solid. This was a front foot.
Looking back I think it probably wasn't a smart thing to do. If he had pulled it away, he might could have hurt himself, but still it was pretty cool.
Anyway, I got him done just as it got too dark to see, I was pretty happy with my work. It may not be perfect but I cut away some hunks of bar, made sure I was even on my heels, brought his high heal down a little and his low heel back some. Using Lazlo's measuring system I believe the length was good. It then took me 5 minutes to get myself back into an upright position.
Since I was already hot and sweaty, the sun was down and I had nothing else left to do that day, I ran in and threw some pants on, and came out to ride. My arena is gorgeous at night. Not bragging...just saying.
|I get woman wood just looking at it.|
I really didn't ask for a ton of stuff from him. Just worked on fine tuning the stuff that we do. The thing I find interesting about night riding is that sometimes our shadow is better than a mirror. I can see which feet are moving and which feet are staying put. I can see for sure when the spin is falling apart which helps me learn the feel, and then I can correct it as soon as I feel it. Trax is good about night riding, usually. As long as I give him time to walk the fence line and see what is lurking in the shadows, then he is good. I won't bore you with all the details, as there was nothing super spectacular, just more of the same and seemingly getting a little better.
Then I got Melody. The weekend before my friend Jamie and her room mate had been down from OR. Jamie, rode Melody bareback, and said that it seems like Melody was limping some. When I watch I do see that the right hind leg does not extend as far forward as the left. I can hear that the rhythm is just a tad off too.
When I rode her, and asked her to lope, she really didn't feel like she wanted. I could not tell if she was sore or just being a butt. We did not ride long, just enough to get warmed up, and eventually I did get her lope normally, but it took a little bit. I did however rider her through (not across) the poles on the ground, and she did it with no hesitation what so ever.
Afterwards I gave her a cool bath and some fly spray, resolving to reassess her gait in the morning.
The next morning I went out and watched her race around her paddock like a mad woman. So while I think there is a little something in her hip, I don't think it is life threatening, just something I need to address. My goal is to identify exactly where it problem is located and then hopefully treat with chiro, and better joint supplements.
Last night Miss Shae came out to ride again. I chose to ride Killian, the big butthead, and try him out in a hackamore. It took all of about 2 minutes and I went and got Trax's headstall and bit. Right now Melody is using Killian's bit so I am working on finding him one of his own. I do have a solid curb buried somewhere which I think would work fine for Killian.
When Shae came this time she brought her mom. It was interesting to watch the interaction between the two of them. While there were times when I wanted to say, "Hey, its okay, just let her enjoy the ride and get to know the horse." It was not my place to do so, and often times the conversation reminded me of myself and Simon, so I shall not judge.
I rode Killian for a while. We loped, and trotted, and it was funny to hear Shea say as I loped past her, "Oh Wow! He has a gorgeous stride!" It feels so awkward to me because I am so used to riding Trax. Perhaps riding Killian is how it is supposed to feel. I will say that now that he is starting to accept the proper lead departures, it is much better and I am getting better control over him at a lope. Not that he was ever a bolt away like Trax. But he always has tended to want to just lope towards home. Home being the gate in this case. Sometimes it makes me wonder what he could do if I really really worked with him. Of course he is 20, so there would be limitations, but it isn't like he is broken down in any case.
After a while though I wanted to ride my own horse, so I asked Simon to get me Trax. In the mean time I sat and watched Shea on Melody. She had the same trouble I did at first, getting the lope out of her. But after a while it was coming along smoothly. I also noticed that after she had been riding for a quite some time, that the "offness" that I had heard in her gate was no longer there. Or not near as prominent anyways.
So what does this tell me?
My show horse is getting stove up from lack of riding.
Insert frowny face here.
I kind of set Trax up for failure this time around. I did not warm him up as well as usual, nor did I do our usual lap around the perimeter. I also did not realize that the farm animals adjoining the arena had changed. This time there was a calf and a blind alpaca. Just as we went trotting past the calf, who is quite friendly, came running up to the fence. Trax bolted sideways, and across the arena. No worries, I just rode it out and we went back. He was really bothered at first. I think he could smell the alpaca but couldn't see it. He could see the calf but it "smelled funny". Eventually it was no big deal.
(Totally off topic here, but I was watching the alpaca during the day and when he can tell someone is close he weaves his head back and forth like Stevie Wonder. And if he can hear commotion, like dogs barking, he runs in little circles with his head straight up in the air. It is funny to watch how he copes with his disability)
Anyway, I was actually kind of surprised at how well he handled not having his usual warm up. I was able to lope him nicely without too many verbal commands to take it down a notch, and as usual we just felt like one.
Meanwhile Shea and Melody were practicing lead changes. Now, for all her "critical mom/trainer" type comments when it came to lead changes, Shea's mom was actually quite helpful. She was able to break down the problems we both seem to have with Melly, and told us exactly what to do to fix it.
Basically she said, "Quit telling her back at the corner that you are thinking about the lead change. You are giving her warning and she is anticipating, and then you never really commit to the change. Instead wait till you are ready, commit to the change, give the solid cue, use your leg to lift ever so slightly on her side and she will do the rest."
When Shae did that the lead change was smooth and fluid. I listened carefully and watched every subtle move so that when I ride her next and I can try to do the same thing.
Then I asked if she was ready to try our pattern again. I went first. Trax did fantastic on the circles, fair on the lead change, gave me one fantastic stop, and fell apart on the spins. We were not warmed up, I was not unhappy at all.
Then it was Shae's turn. She did beautiful circles, nice and round, perfect speed change, a gorgeous lead change, and then came the stop. Her timing was perfect, her seat and cue were perfect and Melody slid that big old butt right up underneath herself like the well trained horse that she is.
Shea yelled out, "OMG did you see that!"
Then she did her first spin. The first one was fabulous. I reminded her to giver Melly time to settle herself before asking and after they were done. Then she loped down to our end and did the same only this time Melly fell apart. It took several tries to get it right and it never was pretty. Not sure what the problem was. Regardless, for her second time ever on the horse, they did so good together.....again.
I can close my eyes and see those two in the show ring. I can see them winning stuff. I can feel the connection between them. I feel sort of like an outsider peering in through the window wishing that I could ride her like that. It only hurts a little, and that hurt is over whelmed by the joy of watching them together. It is pretty cool.
After that we walked the horses around to cool them off. We did side passing and such, and just talked a little about her ride. She was ecstatic, going on and on about the stop and the first spin, and how nice she felt in her circles.....you know....like a teen aged girl.
As we walked past the poles on the ground I asked her to ride Melody through them. She did several times and Melly did just fine.
I hopped down and dragged one pole out towards the center, and said, "Ride her over that. Don't look down, look at the end of the arena, focus your energy there, not here, and ride her through."
I took Trax over first and she was behind me. Melody stopped.
She skitted this way and that way, and said, "No I don't wanna"
Shea said, "But I want you to."
Melody said, "I can't, I don't like it."
Shea said, "Yes you can, you can do it, you are a big girl. You can jump it if it makes you feel better, but you can go over."
Melody said, "I won't."
Shea said, "You will."
And that is when Melody said, "Okay I trust you" and she went over!!!!
Not just once but 3 times!
That was where we called it a night. There is video of her going over, and it is actually hilarious, but since I don't own the video, and it isn't a youtube video, I can't post it here. A few of you have seen it on Facebook. I will see if she will upload it to youtube for me. If she does then I will post it. I'm sure she will be happy to do so.
She really wants to buy Melody. I don't know that I want to sell her, but it is hard to ignore how nice they are together. For now she will just have to be happy with being able to ride her. I have decided I will not let her go for a while. I have seen what Melody can do on a cow, I have not had time to try that on her yet. I won't let her go until I can. Plus I really like Melody, she cracks me up on a daily basis. So for now she stays.