Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Fun

This past Thanksgiving weekend Buckshot and I had great rides! The weather was perfect- nice and cool (in the 40’s and/or 50’s) with nice sunshine. Absolutely perfect horse weather, I think. Plenty of coolness for their thick winter hair, plus the warmth of sunshine that lures them into turning into horse statues (you know the kind, all the horses in a herd are standing facing the same direction, unmoving and calm, whick looks odd, untillllllll you figure out that they are all standing so that the sunrays hit the long sides of their bodies, and they are, well, dozing, or mellowing in the warmth of the sun…. smile). Perfect weather.

We continue to do our twenty minute walking warm up on each ride. I call it Phase One of our ride. I am learning many patterns and variations to keep it from being boring. We start out with a few revolutions around the rail. Then I might add imaginary cone-bending (the cones are imaginery, but the bending back and forth is real), or small circles just inside the rail or serpentines of varying lengths. We also walk the diagonals of the arena. I’ve added a new pattern where we walk on a diagonal line, from a corner to the center of the arena, halt, do something (either a circle or a backing or just the simple halt) and then we continue to a corner, but on a different diagonal line. On each diagonal line we do something different. Also, I vary the speed of his walk as well, asking for the extended walk after about ten minutes. The twenty minutes goes by fairly quickly, as I am motivated to find new directions and maneuvers for us to do, both to warm him up overall, as well as including turns to warm him up in that way.

After Phase One, when we begin some trotting, Buckshot has been very energetic and willing. He feels enthusiastic about himself! I love to do trotting, probably because when Buckshot is on, it feels like we are flying! Sometimes I think that in my head – wheeee, we are flying! He has a very powerful extended trot and when we are in synch, it’s a wonderful feeling to me. And perhaps to him as well :).

On Saturday, we were alone in the arena. No one else was at the barn and the BO was out of town. In the early part of our ride, Buckshot spooked the biggest, fastest, longest distance ever! We were in the arena, at the gate, and I was just beginning to reach for a rein to introduce a turn to the center of the arena, and out of nowhere – BOOM!- a shotgun blast that sounded just a few feet away! Way too loud. Buckshot turned and bolted about twenty feet to the center of the arena. I ducked down and held onto the saddle pad, all instinct and no thought. He stopped in the middle of the arena. My legs felt like jelly, but I tried to quickly regroup. I hadn’t fallen off or come close (because I had ducked down by instinct into the fetal-holding-onto-horse-like-a-limpet position) but I had to decide quickly what to do: get off? Stay on? Would there be more shots? How worried was Buckshot? First I breathed deeply, realized my legs were shaking like jelly, but Buckshot seemed pretty calm, so I said “that’s okay, boy, we’re fine,” hopefully not in a squeaky voice :). I started walking him, and he seemed fine, just a touch jumpy. Another shot went off (not as loud), and he jumped but didn’t spook. I kept us walking, talking to him (really, myself) the whole time. “It’s okay, I think we can walk just fine, now, we’ll see how it goes, etc, etc. “ I kept him off the rail, just in case the shots started again and I needed to dismount quickly. But the countryside stayed quiet after that. And we went on to have a good ride.

I ordered Buckshot’s Christmas present today – a bucket of his favorite treat in the whole world, the only one that reduces him to an equine mass of nickering excitement- the German horse muffins from Equus Magnificus (see He adores these treats, and as I have watched my bucket diminish, I have felt a sadness about running out of these wonderful muffins. So today I ordered him a new bucket. I know he would like me to give him the whole bucket on Christmas Day :) but alas! I won’t. I confess, I don’t really want to ever run out of these treats, he loves them so much! Have you thought of what to get your horse(s) for Christmas yet?


juliette said...

I love your new warmup routine. It sound like it gets Buckshot loose and ready to trot.
That is a scary story about the gunshot and spook. I am glad you held it together and helped Buckshot spook less at the second shot. The jelly legs are the worst! Talking to him helps calm you both and puts you in the "we are safe" space together. He must have thought you felt safe because he didn't spook too much the second time. Good for you and your teamwork together.
I have to look up these muffins you speak of. I used to buy something called "Stud Muffins" for my boys. Then, Maizie and I made some in February of 2009. I forgot about that - might be just the thing to spoil them with before I leave on our trip!

CadencedHoofbeats said...

Hello there! I just stumbled upon your blog recently.

Your new warmup routine sounds great. I have an older pony, and I've also been doing a lot of walk work as the colder weather sets in. Walking different patterns at the beginning of a ride seems to help her a lot.

Good save on the spook! Sometimes we have really loud shots around here, too. I hate that!

I'm not sure what my horses are getting for Christmas yet. Some tasty treats, I'm sure!

Once Upon an Equine said...

That gunshot would have scared me too. And Misty. Sudden, loud noises are our challenge. I've not heard of those treats. I'll have to check them out. Haven't thought much about horse gifts yet. I don't even know what to get my husband. I'm not ready for Christmas. Keep up the good work with your riding routine and warm up. It sounds really productive.

Carol said...

I love reading about your warm up routine. My teacher Joan used to be almost apologetic for encouraging me to walk a lot, but there were so many things she wanted us to do. I told her I LOVED working on the walk. People who find it boring just haven't realized how much you can do. And then it improves everything else.
I wish Rogo would trot like you describe! Sounds wonderful.
I'd be angry that people were shooting so close to a riding barn. That's just wrong. You were very brave to stay on when you didn't know if it would continue. The right thing to do, but brave :)

Jan said...

Thanks for everyone's comments. And welcome- CadencedHoofbeats! Here in Virginia this is the time of year for hunting, and hearing shots isn't that uncommon, unfortunately. It seems that the farm has a neighbor with a particularly loud gun, and that was the one we heard last weekend. Most of the time the shots we hear are more distant. Even though I continued riding that day, I am unapologetic about dismounting quickly if a horse I am riding gets spooked by shots- neither my horse's nor my safety is worth it. I'd rather dismount (and feel embarrassed) than the alternative :).

Carol said...

Thanks for those really nice comments you wrote about my post on communicating with Rogo. I want to know more about the mind to mind communication you mentioned! It happened to me once too, with Dan the appaloosa. Maybe I'll post on it sometime...