Yesterday was such a beautiful day, and with Lee working late, I merely popped into the house to change into my riding clothes and grab a snack before racing off to the barn.
There was no way I was going to ride inside when it was sunny and 17 mid march, so I wanted to take advantage of any and all daylight. I was able to get to the barn about 5:30 and there were some girls just coming out to the outdoor ring. Perfect! Brought him in for a quick grooming (although i am sure I could have spent hours shedding him) and went out as fast as I could.
Now this was my first time mounting him outside, and he seemed especially frisky. He usually is pretty excited when we start riding and cools after about 5 minutes, so I was expecting some trouble. He wasn’t so much bad as I tried to mount, but was wiggling around a bit and I was constantly having to adjust the mounting block. I make a point of not mounting him until he is still. Finally I was able to get up, but he decided it was going to be fun to trot off. Luckily I am pretty good without stirrups and settled him down before setting myself up.
For the first little while he was jazzed beyond anything I had seen with him, even my usual exercises weren’t working so easily. Instead of bending his body, he was just turning his neck and if I used any leg to try and bend, he would start prancing and dancing all over the place. I had to apologize to the other riders and explain that it was his first time out (well, first time starting outside at least… still counts!) Well I just kept working through the sillies and slowly bringing my legs to his side and he seemed to regain his manners.
Since he was walking nicely, I decided to trot… which he took to mean canter. Even when I did tight circles, he was still doing a funny slow but high stepping canter…. and I am talking 10m circles! Cute, but not what I asked for! I ended up having to put my hand on his neck and pull him sharply to the side to break the gait many times. Eventually I got him trotting for a few strides, and would half halt any time he started getting fresh with me… which was about every other stride. I think he was getting the point however.
We didn’t trot long, he was coughing almost constantly at the trot (perhaps why he wanted to canter so badly) Laura says there it is likely stable cough, but she is going to check their hay too. Apparently the others in that field are also coughing, so either they all just caught cold, or somethings up. I just worry because the ground is so wet, so early, that it might have gone up and got the underside of the hay moldy.
So faced with the fact that it was going to be a walking day, I had to come up with a new challenge for him. At this point he was walking, halting, turning on loose rein at a walk, even calm as the other horses left the ring and went into the indoor (where he couldn’t see them). So what do we do? Well the far side of the sand ring is flooded, so our challenge would be to introduce him to water. I had been doing more reading recently, and one of the eventing guides said to start with still water before creeks etc. So we had the perfect setup, although we did not have someone to lead us over.
We started by walking around the outside of the ring, which was puddle free, and he could get a good look at the puddle. Didn’t seem to mind at all. Then I cut the ring in half, so we were going through some of the sloppier sand, but no puddles. Made my circles smaller and smaller where the ground got sloppier and sloppier. Then I walked him right up to the big puddle. It was muddy water, so he wouldn’t be able to see the depth. He looked at it and felt like he was saying “you are joking right?” I gave him gentle taps with my legs to urge him forward, he stepped side to side along the edge of the puddle, I gave him a bit more pressure to go forward and he put that first foot in. I praised him heartily and urged him forward again. He went right into the water, no problem.
We repeated this several times, until he would walk right into the water from both directions with no hesitation, and I could circle him around the puddle without him zipping to the other side immediately.
It was overall a good ride despite the shenanigans at the start of our ride, and some impatience after I dismounted and was speaking with Laura. He would just not stand still and kept bumping me and everyone else with his dirty nose. Very rude!
After we were done, there was still some light, so I decided to take some photos of him out in the field. Rurik was also being especially sucky towards me, particularly because he is usually pretty antisocial and is impossible to catch.