I have to share something that happened a week ago. Buckshot’s right eye was tearing, with a long drip of a tear coming down his nose. I had picked up a Farnum Eye Wash for Horses at the local tack store recently so I got it and wanted to put a few drops in his eye. I put his halter on and gently rubbed my fingers over his right eye. He didn’t pull away from me but he wasn’t exactly cooperating either. I held the bottom strap of his halter with my left hand and had the small eye wash bottle in my right hand. I moved it toward his eye. At first he pulled back slightly. Then he just squinted both of his eyes tightly closed and stopped moving. As if to say “Okay, I’m ready! Go ahead,” but both of his eyes were closed! LOL! With only two hands, all I could do was toss a few drops of the wash in the direction of his eye, but none actually got into his eye! It was so funny! Now I know why you absolutely need two people to put eye drops in a horse’s eye! (A little later, his eye looked fine so I don’t think the eye wash was too important.) Next time, I’ll get a helper. He was so sweet- he trusted me just fine to put something in his eye, as long as it was tightly closed! It still makes me laugh when I think about it!
This past weekend we had some rain, and some sunshine, some warm temperatures and some cool temperatures. It’s very confusing. On Saturday, I was having a good time grooming Buckshot in the stall, when, what did I hear? But raindrops on the roof! I looked out the aisle door and saw it was really only sprinkling. So, I decided to use reverse psychology on the weather and just keep going- on the assumption that if I stopped grooming and gave up the idea of riding, the rain would stop and the sun would come out just as soon as Buckshot was back in his pasture. So I kept going, and got him tacked up and when we headed out to the arena, it was barely misting, and I expected it to stop any minute.
We started our warm up and then! You guessed it – it started raining harder! So I surrendered and dismounted. Darn- Buckshot seemed ready and eager to work!
I walked him back into the barn and decided to do something new – groundwork in the barn! I’d never done it before but I gave it a try. We walked around the barn aisle a few times, trying for good half circles on the ends of the aisle. We did our “walk and halt” exercise where I walk next to Buckshot for a few steps, then say whoa and he is supposed to stop on a dime at my side. He did very well at it. And we did neck stretching exercises, using the apple pieces I had brought him for a treat. He did great, bending his neck around this way and that to get the apple. We also did some backing in the aisle. Buckshot did great, especially considering that it had begun thundering and the rain and thunder made it very noisy in the barn. It’s good to know I can work in some groundwork even when we have very little space to do it. I took him to his stall and untacked him and gave him the rest of his treats, and when the rain slackened, I walked him back to his pasture. What a great horse he is, to do the crazy things I ask of him! He must think I’m nutty sometimes!
After the rainy Saturday, Sunday was sunny and bright and fairly cool. The rain had dampened the arena footing to make it just the perfect mix of moist and dry sand that was wonderful to ride on. After starting our warmup in the main arena, the BO, her husband and I walked our horses down to the field arena and we had a great time there. We all did entire reining patterns – patterns 8 and 9, to be specific – and it was great fun! Buckshot and I did very well at them. For the small circles, usually done at a lope, we trotted, and then for the large circles, we cantered them as much as possible. I concentrated on the order of the maneuvers, and getting us to the right spots in the arena, and steered with as much precision as possible. During the run downs, where you ride the length of the long rail at the canter, Buckshot had super energy! When the pattern was over, we were tired! Then one of the other riders rode the pattern while we watched from the sidelines.
Riding an entire pattern is a terrific exercise that focuses my mind, and yet strangely enables me to not think too much about some parts of it. Circling at the canter is such a challenge. I have to remind myself to stay straight up in the saddle and not lean, yet instinctively, I want to lean. I have to think ahead to where I want to go, and also, with another part of my mind, think about doing the current thing correctly. My mind floats back and forth, from the present moment, to where I need to be in three seconds. It really is very challenging, in a good way, both mentally and physically. I was very proud of Buckshot and how hard he worked. Together, we are getting better little by little. I love that about riding – seeing your improvements, however small, and seeing your horse respond to them. Both aspects are awesome- seeing yourself develop and seeing your horse respond differently, and better.
I hope you had a good weekend with your horse and that you are seeing progress as well!