This past weekend was very hot and humid in Virginia. I adjusted my expectations of myself and of Buckshot accordingly. That said, I had a great time with Buckshot. He is such a wonderful horse, I am so grateful that I am his person.
On Saturday I checked the rain rot we have been battling since mid-May. It is greatly reduced but still affects the back of his right hind leg. I sprayed it with Eqyss spray before we began our grooming or riding.
After grooming him in his stall, I brought him into the aisle to bridle him and put his fly mask on. I am bridling him in the aisle for now, because it enables me to practice how to remove his halter, and put on his bridle, while standing next to him. This is something I have to do when we are at the reining trainer’s farm, and I have to admit, I haven’t been very good at it- leather straps everywhere, lead line here there and everywhere, which goes first, etc, so I have had to ask the BO for help and haven’t been able to bridle him on my own. For this reason, practicing it in the barn aisle is excellent training for me. I am now getting the hang of what to do first, second, third, and not getting the various pieces of leather and rope intermixed.
After Buckshot was tacked up, we headed out to the arena. The BOH was using a chainsaw by the arena so we took a few minutes to work, in hand, in a nearby area. I led Buckshot in circles, then in straight lines followed by backing, etc. He is always very responsive to these little exercises we do when we are in a holding pattern and need to keep busy. I like doing them because they keep him engaged with me, and he seems to like to show that he can do any of these requests I make of him. Good boy!
Then we went into the arena and started our phase one walking. I left the gate open and twice we walked out of the arena to the grassy area. Buckshot is so funny! When he sees that I am headed toward the gate, his walk picks up, like he is quite happy we are going to walk to a new place and he is happy to go there. But then, a few yards outside of the arena, he loses his confidence and seems very unsure of this new world we are in. So I give him direction and guide him to a particular spot, and then circle him to go back into the arena.
After our phase one, we started trotting and Buckshot had good energy and responsiveness, despite the heat. Saturday is the day of our riding lesson, so after a while several other horses and riders joined us in the arena. The farm had sustained a lot of tree damage from a recent storm, so the trails were dicey. So instead of going through the woods to the other field arena, we all walked down the driveway to it. At the field arena, the footing was good and we did some trotting and a canter. The group then tried to go onto a trail, but a lot of limbs blocked the regular trail so we came out of the woods.
We went back to the field arena and did more trotting and cantering. Our instructor had each of us canter in turn, and we discussed the characteristics of each horse’s canter, and how to ride it. It amazes me how very different each horse’s gaits can be. Buckshot and I went last and did our best at the canter. I was able to keep my seat pretty well in contact with the saddle and focus on steering Buckshot to stay on the rail.
The BO gave me some advice: to let out my reins a tiny bit and to also not pull my reins back (to my stomache) quite as much. She said that Buckshot has a very powerful canter. She also complimented me on my seat. She thought that with a little tweak on my reins and hand movement, it might be a little more comfortable for Buckshot although he might canter a little faster. I made notes of her advice at home that night. We then turned toward the driveway and went back to the barn with our hot, sweaty selves and horses.
Buckshot did great! I was very proud of his hard work doing cantering and great trotting for me! After untacking him, I gave him treats, and then took him to the wash stall and gave him his now-weekly bath with medicated shampoo (to fight the rain rot). Then I sprayed him with Vetrolin to act as a sunscreen on his large white blanket area on his haunches, put a dab of baby sunscreen down his broad blaze on his face, and walked him back to his pasture, complimenting him on his great work as we walked.
Once at his pasture, he rolled, and then I treated his leg with iodine-povidine, applied his weekly Equi-spot fly treatment and put his fly mask back on. He must have felt overly sprayed, medicated and lotioned by then! LOL! But I hope he knows I love him!
On Sunday the weather was hot but not brutally hot, so we got to canter a bit more and I worked on the tips from the BO. Buckshot did seem more comfortable with me giving him a little more rein and not pulling back as far. We even went smoothly around the short end of the arena, staying at the canter nicely. It was wonderful! I love to see tiny bits of improvement in my skills and see how it really does help the horse! I can’t help but imagine and wish for even more improvement by me, to see how even more wonderful cantering on Buckshot will be! He knows all of this, it is me who is behind him in the learning curve. So I am grateful to him for his patience while I learn more. What an endearing quality horses have, this patience with us while we learn. How touching.
On Monday, I had the day off of work so I went out to the farm. It was brutally hot so we did a very easy ride- no cantering at all, only a few strides of easy trotting and the rest was walking. The woods were usable so we went on a trail ride. After we ascended some of the hills, I heard Buckshot exhale, as if to say, boy! That was hard! My sweet horse, I wish I could carry him up the hills!
After our ride, I rinsed him off and sprayed him and took him back to his pasture. What a trouper he was the whole weekend! We had good, safe, relatively uneventful rides on a hot summer weekend. And I made some improvements in my canter. Hope you had a nice July 4th weekend as well!