Thursday, October 29, 2009

Great Expectations

As you can see from most of my pics, I am usually out at the barn in the late afternoon/early evening. Arriving any earlier gets me cracks like, "What are you doing out here in the daytime like a normal person?" or, "I thought you melted in the sun." Well, last Friday I definitely flipped the script -- I arrived around 10:00 am in order to wait for the farrier, who was coming out to trim Salem's ragged little hoofies. I grabbed Mr. Ponykins and took him out for a nice, long hand-graze while we waited...and waited...and waited some more.

Eventually, the farrier arrived and trimmed up the lad. Of course, I had forgotten my camera, but here are some After pics that I snapped tonight (6 days After, to be exact):

Much better! And, although his feet were finished around 2:00, we had made plans to ride with Heather and Gigi later in the evening, so we hung out and hand-grazed and hand-grazed some more and walked around the property and melted into little puddles. Yep, the temps have been back to record-highs here in Miami. There's no rest for the wicked!

Later that evening, I saddled up the Boy and we joined Heather on Sid and Gigi on Bonnie. And this is when my brain shorted out and exploded. It was most likely a combination of the long, hot day, lack of food, and oh-so-lovely hormones -- but, man, I was transformed from Miss Laid-Back & Even-Keeled into Cranky Emotional Trainwreck. My internal monologue went something like this -- "Oh my god, I SUCK! My leg is swinging, I am off balance, Salem is all rushy and forward and ostrich-necked and I can not ride, why do I have this horse here to train because I can't do it and GAH!! He is not round or soft or bending or anything and I have made him worse, not better, ohmigod I SUCK!!"

Thank goodness for Heather because she "talked me off the ledge" so to speak and really got both Salem and me calmed down and thinking. She had us do lots of trot-halt-trot transitions, with voice commands, and had me really think about half-halting and using my voice to slow him down. Well, whaddayaknow, it actually worked (of course!). She suggested that I work on that a lot for a few days, and give Salem a peppermint at each halt in order to get his attention really focused on me.

In hindsight, I was being a total goon and expecting far too much out of both Salem and myself. How would I expect such a Greenie to be soft and round and bending? And who do I think I am, Beezie Madden? Because, uh, clearly, I am not! So, I took Heather's advice and spent the next couple days doing a lot of trot-halt-trot transitions (well, okay, trot-threestepswalk-halt-fourstepswalk-trot transitions to be exact), small circles, voice commands, and half halts. Within a few days, things had improved drastically.

Tuesday, we did a nice longeing session, complete with surcingle and side-reins in order to work on Salem's core strength and...well, for lack of a better word, "headset." The one thing that we still need to work on is the "Walk" command because sometimes Salem has other plans. Either he'll be trotting and I ask him to walk and he chooses to ignore it, or he'll be walking and just decide to pick up the trot on his own. I can just see his brain going, "Golly gee, I'm feeling pretty good -- a nice trot would feel just grand right about now! Well, gosh, there's nothing holding me back except for my Two-Legged Carrot Dispenser Girl who keeps saying 'Waaaaaaaaalk' like a darn broken record. Yes, yes, I do believe I shall trot -- and in a forward, prance-y fashion! Wheeeeeeeeeeee! Gosh, would someone tell my Carrot Dispenser to put a cork in it already?"

Yes, I'm working on it! Salem can be a bit naughty -- but never in a mean way, only in a cute and endearing way. And, you know, sometimes he's right. For instance, on Tuesday, I had stopped him briefly to shorten up the very-loose side-reins a bit, and Salem started backing up. That's a bit unusual for him, and I made him step forward (just to make a point). Well, about a second later, my pants were infiltrated by an entire platoon of fire ants. Yeeeeoouch! Salem sighed, cocked an ear in my direction, and said, "See? I told you so, silly girl." Yes, Salem -- I bow to your Infinite Horsie Wisdom.

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