Monday, May 9, 2011

Early May Weekend Adventures

Our weather here in Virginia was wonderful last weekend – spring days in all their glory: sunny, with fluffy clouds lazily moving down the Blue Sky Highway, temperatures pleasant and without humidity. If only summer could be this nice! When I arrived at the farm on Saturday morning, I found Buckshot snoozing in his stall with his pasturemate, no doubt happily digesting their after-breakfast hay. After saying hello to him and exchanging my funny horse-human pleasantries (how was last night? Isn’t today lovely? You just go ahead and relax for now, I’ll do some chores while you snooze…) I cleaned their water tub, picked up some poop, and cleaned the salt block bucket.

Shortly thereafter, I awoke him fully, haltered him and meandered down to the barn to tack up, letting him eat grass greedily along the way. No groundwork today; just a little change of pace. He seemed to be in a good mood, so as we neared the “Road” (the road through the farm that months ago I had tried to get Buckshot to ride down alone, so that we could spend time alone at the hay field arena, without success), I thought we’ll walk down the road again. Buckshot came happily, eating grass as he went, and stopping to stare/ greet other horses in nearby pastures, as I explained their names to him and told him “they’re good horses.” One time, he stopped in the road and I waited patiently as he assessed the situation. Then, he started walking again. When we had gone a bit down the road, I turned us around and headed us back. Hooray! He’s going down the road! We may yet make progress on this issue! Good boy!

We went on to the main barn and tacked up and went out to the main schooling arena and started our twenty minute warm up walk. I did lots of patterns and exercises to prepare us both. (I now think that the warm up actually helps warm up me as well as Buckshot; no doubt it helps to limber my lower back and my legs a bit. LOL Although I had thought it was just to help him, it probably helps my aging limbs also!)

We started trotting after the warm up and did a few canters. Wonderful! Then the 1:30class arrived and we started working with them. We went through the woods, to the hay field arena and did a little work out there. Then we headed back to the barn, and after an hour and a half of riding him, I dismounted from Buckshot, untacked him and lightly rinsed him in the saddle area where he was quite sweaty. A lovely ride, and good work by Buckshot!

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, the weather was again beautiful and I did our routine again: no groundwork, grazing with gusto, and walking down the road again!! (Good boy!) To the barn, tacked up, applied Swat to some bug bites (the bugs love his sheath area and his hind legs! – poor boy) and went out to the arena. After our phase one warm up, we trotted some patterns and did a little cantering. Then the BO, BOH and another rider joined us in the arena, after which we all went through the woods to the field arena.

At the arena, I could sense Buckshot’s energy and decided to canter him and trot him energetically. We did long extended trotting that feels like flying! He has a wonderful extended trot – I think it must look as glorious as it feels to ride it! My legs work like a piston – up and down, up and down- but it feels great! And we did some great cantering- with me working on steering him (he is so strong, and usually wants to go to the center of the arena, I have to work hard to focus on steering him closer to the rail), and overall, nice energetic cantering. I only had to hum to him once and I could feel his reduced energy, but he didn't slow down significantly. It will take time to get better with him, but I think we are in that phase where I just have to keep doing it, get muscle memory, get myself even more confident about steering. And I do wish I could tell, by feel, what lead we are on. I just am not that good yet. But I want to be.

I have to share about Buckshot’s sense of humor. After we had done a good bit of work, and the other riders were either resting their horses in the middle of the arena, or working on a reining skill, I took Buckshot to the side of the arena to stand for a few minutes. Well, I guess that he had decided that we had done enough work and that I must have lost my watch and didn’t realize the time. He started to walk –very slowly- to the road, which is the way home. I gently steered him back to the arena area and stood facing the arena. Well, after a moment (he obviously thought I was mentally challenged or something) he turned exactly one-quarter turn (towards the road). And then, a few moments later, he did another perfect one-quarter turn, and voila! We were again facing the road! Perhaps he thought I didn’t know my directions. LOL! Then he started, ever so slowly, to walk toward the road. Well, inside my mind, I was laughing – he was so obvious and trying to be so cunning, or helpful, perhaps. Or perhaps he thought I wouldn’t notice. After a few steps, I lifted my reins and gently steered him all the way around, away from the road. Poor boy. He thought he had me. Then a minute later, he did it again. No doubt thinking I wouldn’t notice. LOL! He is so funny. He doesn’t fight or anything, it’s as if he is trying to be helpful since I must have lost my directions and my watch at the same time!! What a sweet, helpful boy! What a sense of humor he has!

Do your horses have a sense of humor? Hope you had a nice weekend, and happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there!


Wolfie said...

When I clean my guy's feet, all I have to do is tap the back of his leg and he lifts his hoof. Sometimes I get to chatting with other boarders and I forget which foot I cleaned. If I make a mistake and ask for a hoof that I have already cleaned, he won't raise it...he'll raise a hoof that I haven't cleaned! I can almost see him rolling his eyes. :-)

Carol said...

I love that Buckshot has such powerful gaits. You are lucky! Wish my 6 year old wanted to go forward like that :).
What a great sense of humor he has. Savanah (our draft cross) will try a similar trick. If our teacher Joan, who she loves, is standing close to her when we're mounted she'll ever so slowly try to inch her way over to Joan for pats. I guess she thinks she's just so tiny no one will notice her inching along. We laugh and make sure she gets to nuzzle Joan. After that she's fine.
Good work with getting Buckshot to feel more confident on the road.

Jan said...

Wolfie and Carol,
Thanks for sharing about your wonderful horses! I laughed when I read both of your stories about your horses' humor! They are both so smart, and so endearing!

And similarly, Carol, Buckshot loves the BO, who is the riding instructor here. When we are having a lesson taught by her, he loves to go over to her as well, no doubt to get a few pats!!