To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Hot and cold, up and down

At the beginning of last week Lance and I were cleared for walking up and down the gravel lanes  and adding a bit of trot in the arena – so of course I haven't had time (mostly) or weather (sometimes) to ride as much since then. It has been nice to have a change of scenery when we get out, though!

Last week I was down at the barn for several hours shearing a sheep. Lance was resting when I arrived – something I don't often catch him doing.
Later I heard some odd, strained sounds, so I left my sheep to see what was going on. I must admit that Lance gave me a bit of a scare; he was flat out, breathing oddly, with the white of his eye and his teeth showing!
And it wasn't just his odd expression; he seemed really out of it, not immediately reacting to my voice. But eventually he snapped out of it, and appeared to be just fine.

Several hot days last week set records, but it's cooled back down. Lance has been off antihistamine for a week or two without any change, and although he doesn't have much energy, his breathing isn't "heavey." Thankful for all of that!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

And a little (too much) off the bottom

Today when I went down for Lance's and my 30-minute walk, I noticed that his tail was dragging on the ground. I fetched my scissors to trim it – and took off more than I intended! It does make his tail look thicker, though – and it will grow back. 😉

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A little off the top

Between shedding winter hair and unkempt mane and tail, Lance is looking rather ratty. Of course, I always think he's handsome, and there are no shows in our foreseeable future for which to spiff. Still, a freshly clipped bridle path, some sunshine and a breeze don't hurt the view!



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Back in my saddle again...

...which I must say is not as comfy as Bentley's! Ah well, the horse it is on is mine, and that is the most comfy place to be.
Rick gave Lance his third and final shockwave treatment Sunday and gave us the green light to walk up to 30 minutes a day under saddle. Neither Lance nor Oliver have been cleaning up their hay, so Rick also checked their mouths and found petechiae (painful tiny red spots on their mucous membranes). I'm using our bitless bridle to keep Lance as comfy as possible.
Here's hoping I can keep Lance comfy enough to get him back into shape for trail-riding at least.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Breaking up is hard to do

I didn't visit Bentley on Sunday. Between his bad-boy act of last week and the boatload of responsibilities on my plate, I just wasn't feeling it so I reminded myself that working him isn't an obligation and stayed home.

Rick said I could start hand-walking Lance 15 minutes daily (he got his second shockwave treatment on March 24), so we began that on Monday. Lance, too, was a bit of a brat. Completely understandable, as cooped up and bored as he's been, but still not acceptable. He threw his head around and could NOT keep his lips to himself; he really wanted to bite but was afraid to try (good thing!). As I walked Lance I realized that I wasn't being as firm about boundaries with Bentley. Time to change that.
Okay . . . if I MUST behave . . . .
Tuesday I went to see Bentley. The landscape crew was there mowing and weed-whacking, and Bentley was on high alert, prancing and snorting and ignoring me. So I filled my pocket with cookies and went out into the pasture to share them with Bentley's herd mates, two very old Thoroughbred geldings. After a bit, Bentley wanted in on the cookie party and let me halter him. But as we headed to the barn, he tried a little explosion on the end of the lead. Boundary time! I yelled "NO!" and went after him in 'mad mother mode,' backing him across the pasture. Then we headed for the barn again, stopping and backing several times along the way as a reminder not to forget his manners. He regarded me with some surprise and a little trepidation, and we had no further issues. He wasn't interested in the after-work cookies I put in his feeder, though, instead turning and galloping back to the pasture. That was new.

Wednesday I went to see Bentley again. All three boys came into their stalls and got cookies, but Bentley didn't stick around. No problem; I headed out with a pocketful of cookies and the halter as I had the day before. The old guys followed me around mugging for treats, but Bentley kept his distance. I called; he ignored. I walked towards him; he took off. He certainly was a beautiful brat:



I quickly considered my options. I had no doubt I could catch him with time and persistence, but it would require shutting the old guys in their stalls and keeping Bentley moving until he realized that avoiding me was a lot more work than whatever we might do together. But I didn't have unlimited time, and the footing wasn't totally dry – I didn't want to be responsible for him sustaining an injury while tearing around the pasture.

So I cut bait, knowing when I did so that I was walking away for good. Bentley isn't a casual riding partner to enjoy while Lance recuperates; he needs remedial training and I'm not going to continue to provide it – driving an hour round trip for the privilege – for free. I thought about offering my services for a fee if the owner was willing to move him to my barn, but decided against that, too. Bentley cribs, an equine stereotypy that damages structures and can be learned by other horses; I don't need that on our place. Neither do I need any additional sources of stress in my life right now; my dad went on hospice yesterday and he seems to be declining rapidly.

The good news is that I can exercise my riding muscles on my own horse again starting next week. Rick said that after Lance's third shock-wave treatment, we can do our walking under saddle instead of in-hand. It's not much, but it will be enough for now.