Weeknights are hard to get motivation to ride. The first problem is most nights lessons are on until 9pm, which means no arena time until late (for me with my 10:15 bedtime!)
I made my way there for 8:30 last night and was pleasantly surprised that the last lesson was a cancellation, meaning the arena was free! Ok quick groom and get to riding.
But the quick groom was not meant to be quick apparently. The longer days have led the shaggy beast to start shedding immensely. Half an hour of currying and I thought I had most of it out, until Kirstin came by and with a single pat, had a handful of hair. I had already taken out enough fur to make an exact replica of Geisha the barn cat who had been lurking around looking for attention. At that point, I resigned to the fact I wouldn’t ride this evening, and I scooped up Geisha and introduced her to Bentley. She wasn’t very interested in him, but he sure liked her soft kitty fur… burying his nose in it, blowing on her, and eventually started grooming her as she sat in my arms.
Instead of riding, I decided to just let him loose in the empty arena and have some fun with him. We started off with some free-lunging. Not even needing a whip, I would just call out various gaits to him and he was happy to follow each direction I gave. He sure understands the English language well!
After the fun of that wore off, I attached the lead rope and practiced our trot-outs. Those are never a problem for us, I didn’t really need the lead. However… we decided to practice CTR trot-outs in different ways. I tried switching to leading him on the right side for the circle (as opposed to left) and he became very confused, and would weasel his way back to the other side despite my best attempts to stay on the right. So to help him get used to the thought of me on the other side, we just walked with him against the wall. He was tentative but eventually complied. Giving him a break, we further changed it up by trotting the straight line, then lunging the circles. He was very good at that, I am fortunate he is eager and happy to trot from my word, no whip or running required on my part. It was actually quite smooth. Now that might change with all the distractions at a competition, but I won’t know that until the time comes!
After that, Barb came in to remind me not to let the cats escape the office (as she was leaving) and asked if we had played. “Yes” I responded, thinking our groundwork counted as play… but I was wrong! She showed me what she does with Bee to get him to play with her, and it was much different from our work. We would creep up to him so he would think “what are those weirdos doing?” Then close to him we would jump up, dance, sing, wiggle or just do anything silly and out of the ordinary. Not scary, but silly. Bentley got it right away and leaped and bucked and farted and ran around. Lots of times strutting his stuff with his lovely trot. Barb was very impressed by his strut trot and remarked how Arab he looks these days. I agreed, hes looking like a giant 16h+ Arab, not seeing the Warmblood so much after this recent growth spurt. She also complimented him on how nicely his tummy has tucked up and overall how muscular he has become… no more hay-belly (horse equivalent of beer gut), hes a lean mean machine. I guess I am next for this…. dreading a little bit how hes going to whip me into shape. I have had a few friends in OCTRA tell me about how once the horse gets fit enough to do a distance/speed, they always want to GO GO GO! Yeah… that’s starting to happen already!
Barb left and I played with Bentley some more: Dancing as if no-one was watching. That’s the beauty of him, he can look at my terrible moves and be intrigued and laugh with me. He won’t tell anyone how bad I am at it, or make fun of me, just mimic me by trotting when I jog or cantering when I skip, bucking when I hop twist and jump. He snorts, I squeal. Headbang, head shake. We had too much fun together, next time I will have to bring music. It was very special 🙂
As the end of the night rolled around, I made my rounds scooping up the poop in the arena, and Bentley had found the mirror at the far end. He spent an obscene amount of time admiring himself in it. You might say he thinks its another horse, but knowing him, I think he understands it. He does the same invisible bow-tie pose in front of the mirror as he does when he knows hes being watched… when parents point and whisper at “the most beautiful horse I have ever seen” or he just feels eyes on him. He knows the words “beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, stunning, WOW” and puffs and arches for them. Clearly he is practicing in the mirror so he can get more compliments this summer.
This makes me think of when I used to play the Sims game, you would have them stand in front of the mirror for an hour or two, practicing their speech and their “Charisma” points would go up… then they could get jobs as actors or politicians. Yes, he certainly has a lot of charisma!