Last Saturday (Feb. 25th) was windy, windy, windy! Big gusts, lots of steady wind, threatening to blow anything not nailed down into the next county! Sunny but windy and cold. Luckily, Buckshot is not bothered by wind so I knew we would be able to ride. I brought him in from his pasture to the main barn for grooming. As usual, I started at his neck, curried him down his neck, down his front leg, on his side, then belly, then his back, then his haunches, then his croup, then down his hamstrings, and whoops! Crusty stuff covered his hamstrings and down his back legs! I couldn’t even curry it off of him. Poor guy, he’d had a lot of diarrhea and it had dribbled. His tail was pretty crusty also. Even though it was a cold day, I decided I would have to clean him up after our ride. I brushed and brushed at his tail, to loosen as much as possible. I used paper towels to rub off some of the “fresher” stuff. It was a big job just to give him a basic grooming. But I got it improved some, and then tacked him up.
We headed out to the arena, wind blowing into our faces, swirling around us unendingly, making loud, chaotic noises. I mounted and we started our twenty minute walking phase one work. We practiced straight lines, and circles. The arena had soft footing, with the occasional puddle. The wind didn't bother us. When we started trotting, Buckshot had a nice energy. We did some extremely nice canters as well.
Only one other rider braved the wind (the BO husband), so we were joined by him and his reining horse. After a few minutes, we went through the woods (after I had carefully listened for any cracking noises of branches in the woods, and hadn’t heard any). The woods were quiet; apparently the wind broke around the woody terrain and didn’t penetrate it. The footing was good, although in a few places the horse in front of us stepped into thick mud and slid forward a few inches. I was vigilant in watching the trail in front of us. Both horses must have enjoyed the walk through the quiet woods. When we exited the trail, into the hay field, both horses started jogging immediately. Not a frantic, worrisome jogging, but a controlled, smoothly energetic jogging. The reining horse jogs (trots) slower than Buckshot does, so I half-halted him, and he settled into a springy, light as a feather, bouncy, controlled trot. I neither sat it nor posted it. Instead I bounced it, as light as a feather! It was wonderful. The sunlight caused our shadow to show on our right side, so I watched myself bounce lightly on his back, using my legs, but bouncing with such a small height that I wasn’t hitting his back. It was magical – I have never experienced such a lovely trot by Buckshot before! Good boy! We bounced along the hay field until we hit a lake of water in one section, at which point I dropped Buckshot back into a walk until we crossed it. Then I let him trot again all the way to the reining arena.
We had a wonderful time at this arena. The footing was good, with just a few muddy sections to avoid. The wind was very slight, probably blocked by the woods. The sun was shining and clouds were running across the sky. Buckshot and I did lots of trotting – using the whole arena, which feels wonderful. We did some very good canters as well. I practiced the right canter lead, followed by careful steering, to get a big circle. Buckshot tried hard and did well, for him. After he worked for a while, I took him to the side of the arena where there is grass, and let him eat. Then back into the arena for a few more minutes of work. After that, the BOH and I walked back through the woods, returned to the barn and I dismounted. A wonderful ride.
After untacking Buckshot and giving him a few treats, I enlisted the help of my sister to clean Buckshot. I put her in charge of his head, holding the lead line, and giving treats, while I took over the back side. We heated up buckets of water with a water heater thing. I added soap, and using lots of paper towels, soaped him up, rubbing with the curry comb, and dipped his tail in a bucket of soapy water. Then, with lots more buckets of warmed water, I rinsed him and rubbed him vigorously to get him as dry as possible. I know it must have made him feel better to not have the crusty stuff pulling on his hairs, and going all the way down his legs. Although I couldn’t really get him squeaky clean (I need a hose for that, and it was too cold for a hose), I got him a lot cleaner, and hopefully, a lot more comfortable. The BO said his diarrhea may be due to the new spring grasses coming up. Anyway, he was a cleaner Buckshot when I left him on Saturday night!
On Sunday, the wind was gone, thankfully. It was a mild day, in the forties, and sunny. We took three horses to the reining trainer’s clinic. Buckshot had an off day. He wasn’t at his best. He was responsive with the trot, but when I asked for the canter, only half of the time did he respond with a canter. That isn’t like him. When we sat at the sidelines while other riders did an exercise, I noticed Buckshot’s sides heaving. I wondered if he was tired, and so let him rest longer, and toned down what we did. After he had rested, and his sides were not heaving, he would turn his muzzle around to touch my foot, which I interpret as, “Let’s do something!” so then we walked or lightly trotted a bit.
When the class was over, and I dismounted, he ate some grass. When I offered him some cookies as a treat, he took them, but not as enthusiastically as usual. After a few bites, he refused any more. That is not like him at all. So he must have been feeling a bit bad. We trailered them back to the farm. As the BOH lowered the horses windows, I saw him offer each horse a treat, and Buckshot took his. As I walked him back to his pasture, he stopped for grass nibbling, so I think he was feeling better. He rolled in his pasture- a regular, over the top rolling – and later when I went to feed them, he nickered in his usual way, and ate his dinner just fine. So I think he was feeling normal by then. But of course, I hope I didn’t overwork him at the clinic. I’ll just have to see.
So it was a good weekend, and a good time with Buckshot, even if he had an off-day. And he is much cleaner now!! Hope you had a good late winter (if we can call it that!) weekend with your horses!