Monday, June 20, 2011

What a horse-filled weekend, indeed!

I probably spent nearly 5 hours on horseback this weekend including my first lesson in nearly a decade (note my use of “decade” just because I can since I’m getting older and all). 
I had my first centered riding lesson this weekend, and boy, it was rough.  I wasn’t nearly as ready as I thought I was.  It seemed everything I did in the first half hour was utterly and completely wrong.  Orion, too.  We were a train wreck.  Well, we ARE a train wreck.  Been like this since I switched saddles.  Horse needs to find his inner fat kid and soon so I can go back to the saddle I love. 
Ever since I switched saddles to one that fits him & doesn’t please me my riding has been off.  I’ve noticed it on the trail – a lot.  I’m never overly sore or anything, just not as comfortable as I once was on Stan.  I kinda figured it was part of the whole getting-used-to-a-new-horse thing, nope.  After removal of said evil saddle at my lesson and replacement with one glorious treeless dressage saddle life on my end improved beautifully.  Semi-painful sensations from the new posture I was asked to assume wasn’t nearly so bad with said glorious saddle.  I. Want. One.  Pity they run around $2K. 
Once I found my comfort things started to click a little better as far as all of the maneuvers Orion and I were asked to perform.  Little man still sucks in a ring, but it’s not his fault – he’s only been in one twice now.  He’s exceptional considering. 
Trailering though?  Not exceptional.  Exceptional failure – yes.  He has loaded onto a step-up trailer numerous times without much issue.  A little reluctance, but loaded in less than 5 or 10 minutes on both occasions.  This weekend’s trailer though was a ramp load.  A nice, squishy, traction-rich ramp.  I liked the feel of it on MY feet.  Orion, not so much.  Friday night after 20 minutes we finally tricked him into backing on (with lots of pushing).  Saturday however was a complete and total shit-show.  No amount of anything worked, it seemed.  And it wasn’t as if he was stressed out about the whole ordeal at all.  The complete opposite in fact!  He would get agitated with our persistence and throw a kick at the offending lunge whip tickling his rear, but for the bulk of the time he was licking and chewing – known equine communication that indicates a relaxed horse.  A couple times both his eyes closed as if the snot was asleep. 
He just refused to place any part of his body on that damn ramp!  Planted all four feet and wouldn’t have any of it.  In the end, both times on Saturday, we blind-folded him and I belayed him on while others had a rope behind his haunches to pull him forward.  This guaranteed that he couldn’t throw his head to pull me out of the trailer and release the pressure on the halter.  Smart little bugger.
Once he’d half-jumped the ramp to gain access to the trailer he was completely calm and unconcerned!  Eating alfalfa pellets from my hand and plucking hay from the feeder inside the trailer.  No wild eyes.  No deep breathing.  Nothing.  Just that damn ramp.  Horses, sometimes I feel I’ll never understand.  I have my hypotheses about why he doesn’t like that ramp, and this week we’re going to practice some and overcome the issue (I hope).
Tomorrow Dr. C. comes up from Virginia and Orion will –HOPEFULLY! – get his [teeth floated].  This should help him find that inner fat kid he’s missing.  In addition, it should answer any other questions about his health.  It will be good to finally get him a check-up.  Besides, I find all horse vet activities interesting.  It was a career I thought I wanted for myself but gave up on when I realized the extent and difficulty of school that it required.  I don’t think I could handle that stress.  But I’ll do my best to take care of my own equine partner(s)!

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