Buckshot was, fortunately, much better on Monday, after his slight bout of tummy ache/ gas colic/ unidentified slight ailment. On Monday, the BO reported that he was fine and his appetite was fine. I was very glad to hear it! On Wednesday night, I went out to the barn and found him happily eating hay in his pasture. We did our groundwork without halter and lead line again. He was very responsive except he didn’t want to go too far away from his stall/barn. So we did our games and exercises in the area he was comfortable in. I also brushed him and loosened some of his shedding winter hair. It was a lovely, calm evening to spend some time with him.
On Saturday the weather was very nice – pleasantly cool and sunny- but the arenas were both soggy from rains. After I got Buckshot tacked up, we couldn’t use the main arena because there was a class going on in it. So we went to the round pen and began our walking warm up there. I try to make the round pen interesting to him. I usually walk him around, in hand, in both directions to test out the footing. Then I mount and begin walking him. I told him we would work on our precision work. I can now keep him on the outside rail with a good technique I learned from the reining trainer: When going to the right, if Buckshot is walking inside a bit too much, I lift the inside rein a few inches and tap my inside heel way behind the girth. He moves over to the left, to the rail. We continue in our leftward circle. This is a good technique that works well for us.
To prevent boredom, I walked him around in quarters, e.g., at at the 12 o’clock spot, I turn in and go to the center of the pen, at which point I turn right and go out to the rail, to the 9 o’clock spot. Then around for another quarter and then into the center. You get the idea.
Another exercise we do is “squares” where I mentally turn the round pen into a square pen. I will walk Buckshot from one fence post to another (one side of the square), not on the rail, say whoa, back two or three strides, whoa, walk forward those same two or three strides, and then turn. Off we go to another post, or another side of the square. We continued these varying exercises for about ten minutes, and then I dismounted, left the round pen and walked him over to the main arena.
The arena was very wet around most of the edges so we had to keep to the inside portion of the arena. We did a little trotting but not a lot since I felt the footing was a bit slippery. We didn’t do any cantering. My sister joined us with her school horse and we stood in the center of the arena chatting, and noting how both horses slowly closed their eyelids, snoozing! Then the BO and BOH joined us with their horses and after a few minutes walking in the arena, we went into the woods on the trail.
Oh, the woods were beautiful, filled with the most delicate green buds and flowering trees! It was truly magical to see and pad softly through the enchanted forest. It was quiet and calm, without any distractions or worries – a wonderful trek. We got to the hay arena but quickly realized it was too soft for riding, so we headed into a different section of woods. Then we headed back to the barn and dismounted- a lovely ride. I made a point to notice Buckshot’s ears on the trail, and see what he pays attention to. I noticed that he does look around, and yet often cocks one ear back to me, even if I haven’t spoken. I wonder if he enjoys the trail rides as much as I do, and what he thinks about as we travel through the woods.
On Sunday, we trailered four horses to a reining clinic and had a nice time there. Buckshot did very well, but I didn’t push him as it was warm (in the seventies) and he still has quite a bit of winter coat. But he did very well; he didn’t get antsy in the stall before loading, he loaded well, traveled well, and seemed to have a good time at the clinic. After I got him home and back to his pasture, he went and rolled right away (which is what he usually does after getting off the trailer when he gets home), then went to his water tub and drank deeply, then turned to me as if to say, Well! I feel good! What now? Good boy!
Just a side note…. I am watching Buckshot’s weight now. A week ago, I asked the BO to tighten my cinch one day under saddle, and as she took it in beyond the holes, I noted that that seemed like maybe he had lost weight. Later, we measured him using a hay bale string, which we marked and have stored on a shelf in the barn. We also decided to increase his feed by a small amount, I’d say less than 10 percent more. I’ll check him with the string in a few days and see how it looks. We may decide to put him on a higher calorie feed.
Also, since we had used all of the holes in the cinch, I decided to put more holes in it. The BO has a wonderfully easy hole punch that made the job a snap. Then, during this weekend, while riding, I bent forward and tucked my hand into the cinch to see if it felt loose. (By way of background, I always tighten the cinch before mounting, and check it a few minutes later, and most of the time, have to hop off and tighten it again.) So, when I did my normal checking from in the saddle, it was a little loose. This time I was able, with the help of the holes, to tighten it while staying in the saddle! I like this maneuver. In the past, when I rode with English tack, I really liked that you can tighten your girth from in the saddle. So moving to Western tack, the cinch is different from the English girth and can't usually be tightened by a rider in the saddle. But this weekend, I figured out how to do it, although it was a little trickier than an English girth.
Although my weekend wasn’t too exciting, I hope you had a great weekend with your horse friends as well!