Thursday, January 23, 2014

Griffin Updates

With the winter weather coupled with two jobs, I've been slacking major on my horse-time lately. Riding Griffin has turned into a 1x a week if I'm lucky affair.

This past Monday I was able to get out to the barn for a 6 hour stint though. I had time to work with K and her new horse (a post on this is in the workings) - now named Tempest - work with Griffin, and ride Q (yet another post).

My main goals for Griffin on this day were to trim his feet, get some saddle time, and get his legs shaved to prevent intense ice balls from forming on the longer hair around his fetlock and prevent scratches.

Trim: 4 feet with minimal issue. His heels have contracted a bit with the wet weather, constant mud, and lack of movement due to standing at the round bale more than moving about. Overall, I'm not greatly concerned though. Its the nature of having a horse in the winter on the east coast. Its wet. Its rainy. Its snowy. Mud is a fact of life. My horses hooves will change a little with each season. Knowing what is normal for each season is the best I can do.

The main thing I did on this trim that I've been slacking on was trimming his overgrown bars. Discussions with several of you on Facebook lately really helped me to explore and expand my understanding of bars. Griffin's were overgrown and starting to flare out in places so I took care of them.

All things considered though, Griffin's feet are headed in a better direction. The increased movement through rides is helping to change some aspects of his feet that I was optimistic would change with the advent of more riding. I'm excited to see how things develop in the next 6 months.

Shave: Griffin, ever ready-to-please and true to the "you tell a gelding" phrase, was absolutely stellar about the whole shaving process on his legs. And honestly, I didn't really expect anything less.

His legs were muddy from the field, so the first step was getting them washed off. I'm not fortunate
enough to have a fancy wash stall with warm water, so I did the least painful thing I could think of for both of us: I filled up a bucket and had him stand in it for about 15 seconds per leg while I swished the water against his leg to get the mud off.

I've never asked Griffin to stand with his foot in a bucket before. Ever. But I asked him to for this and he did. With ZERO issue. In fact, his only issue was not wanting to take one of his feet out of the bucket! SUCH a good boy!

Once his legs were significantly cleaner, I wrapped them in standing wraps - another new experience for the little man - and then proceeded to ride him for a bit, then stall him while I rode Q, before finally shaving his finally dry and clean legs.

He was completely unbothered by the buzzing of the clippers on his legs. No. Big. Deal.

I'd given him grain to nibble, but he'd inhaled that by the time I was half way through the second leg. Once finished eating, the most he did was nuzzle me as I went about my work.

Seriously, this little grey horse is one of the sweetest equines I've ever been around. I love him.

Ride time: This was the first day in a very long time, probably ever, that I did zero work with Griffin prior to hopping on his back. I even noted to him as I was about to mount, "Okay little buddy, here goes nothing. Cold backed. Don't be an ass, please."

I rode Griffin while K was on Tempest. I used him to lead her around the round pen a bit before teaching from him. He was SO GOOD.

I rode once again in the Australian stock saddle. I also had my dressage whip in hand for this ride, too, as Griffin had been sluggish during our ring work on New Years Eve. This added tool was very useful during our ride on Monday. I'd offer Griffin "the good deal" and if he was sluggish about responding, I'd pop him on the shoulder. It only took doing this twice for him to hop to it - literally - when I requested a change in gait from the walk to the trot.

His transitions in the ring (not on the trail, conversely) are so enthusiastic. He literally hops from one gait to the other with his upward transitions. I was laughing aloud at him at one point because, in his intense desire to please, he did an absolutely stellar walk-canter transition. I'd said, "Trot," aloud one for him to transition, and he'd ignored it, so in my hasty impatience I gave a smooch as additional encouragement. Griffin knows the smooch noise to also mean "canter". So he did just what he knew to be right, he cantered immediately after hearing that noise.

It was totally my bad and his right. I slowed him from the canter laughing and patting him on the neck for being such a good, smart boy.

Watching K (greeny) trying to get Tempest to respond well (also a greeny, but with a heart of gold and so, so kind) and comparing them to Griffin, I was even more proud of my little grey horse. I was thankful for the knowledge I've built over many years that have been able to get Griffin to where he is.  While I was giving K her lesson I was able to demonstrate certain concepts for K with Griffin and have him respond beautifully for each teaching point. Even when he wasn't perfect, it was okay because he provided K with a better understanding of how to work through an issue like that with Tempest.

I continue to be so thrilled with where Griffin is headed in his training. He's still having some angsty moments, but they are so minor and short-lived that they're hardly even worth noting anymore. A tiny head toss here, a stiff-legged protest there. Brief nano-seconds of obstinate behavior that are nearly immediately over-ridden with stellar good behavior.

We still have a long journey ahead of us, but I'm very pleased with our progress so far!

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