Dino Hates Me

Well, probably not. The B.O. does not always get to ride as often as she’d like, so I offered and she nicely let me ride him this weekend.

Dino is not a bad horse. He’s just, like 99% of horses out there, not inclined to do more work than he has to. Lucky is another example. On Saturday, we decided (or rather I decided, as this is not a democracy) to jump the big log in the woods. (There’s a large tree down over one trail.) I realized, after our first couple attempts, Lucky was not so much refusing as he was testing. He wanted to see if, as there didn’t seem to be any way around the sides, it was possible for him to step rather than jump over it, or to knock it in some way as to make it lower. It’s just a shade too high to make that really practical, and it’s long and big enough he wasn’t going to move it, and so on about our fourth approach, he put as much hop as he was willing to muster into getting both ends over. He seemed quite disappointed by this.

Lucky does, however, show increasing enthusiasm for barrels. Not that he’s actually interested in RUNNING, oh, no, that’s too reminiscent of actual work, but he definitely has learned the pattern and in fact is getting very enthusiastic about turning close to the barrel (a little too much so, as we’ve actually tipped one over.) And on our first run-through Sunday, he picked up the canter without asking for the run back to the ‘timer’ (actually just back up to the fence.)
He is probably not going to be out-sprinting any gaming horses any time soon, but he does seem to be having fun pretending.

Dino, on the other hand, was not having fun. Dino does not like to go forward. I’m given to understand his previous owner mostly used him for driving for two years, and not much of that, so B.O. has had to deal with a horse who is no longer all THAT enthused about toting people around, despite having somehow survived as a trail horse another owner back. I rode him Sunday, after he’d been worked already, and just getting him to keep walking around the round pen was an effort. Trotting was not on his agenda. Having ridden four different horses in the round pen now, I begin to think a little of the problem (Dino’s laziness, Takota trying to buck at the canter, Lucky’s adamant refusal to canter on the right) in there is that it’s basically like riding a twenty-meter circle over and over. If the horse isn’t very fit and supple, it’s a ton of work for them to stay balanced. So Monday Dino and I skipped the round pen entirely and just went to the big ring. And trotted.

And trotted. And trotted.

I did not expect a whole lot of flexing or bending, but he did go forward. He tossed his head, we went forward. He tried to slow down, we went forward. He stopped, we went forward. He used stumbling as an excuse to walk, we went forward. We probably spent ten or fifteen minutes just trotting. One direction, then the other. Some very ‘vehicle makes wide turns’ circling and serpentines. We even managed a canter. On the left, at any rate. I didn’t ask for more than ten or twelve strides (as it’s been so long the B.O. was not even sure he knew how, but I figured as long as I had him out, why not ask) as he is woefully out of shape. But he has a very comfortable canter when he gets into it.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day, really. Dino and Takota need more riding, Lucky could progress much faster if I could ride every day, the B.O. bought that lovely pony cart for Dom and barely has time to use it . . . horse people need horse leave days, they really do.

If You’ll Indulge Me

I realize a lot of posts recently are basically me gushing about what an awesome horse I have. Well, in fairness, Lucky IS an awesome horse. Today was very, very hot, so I did not set out intending to ride for long. As much for me as for him, as I really don’t want a repeat of the heat prostration episode. I always feel torn between the sense I’m not doing enough, but not wanting to do too much at one time. Today just enough was some circles (generally in the vicinity of twenty meters) and changes of direction across the diagonal at the trot, and more canter transitions. Lucky still cross-canters at times. He apparently went out for a trial with a dressage barn and was sent back because he didn’t want to swap leads behind. Their loss, my gain. But we managed our first circle at the canter today that more or less bent the correct direction and stayed the same size.

We also jumped again. This time, we had rails down, but on the first try, he did in fact canter to the oxer and take it without a stop. I wouldn’t exactly call it a back-cracker, but it was a jump. I need to work on my landings, though–in the interest of not slamming his back or mouth, I’m not exactly sitting down per se. It’s probably a better workout to do everything in two-point, but when the fences get higher or he decides to make a last-minute change of direction, I may be in some trouble. Not that I anticipate the former happening for a while, though he certainly shows more interest in the higher fences than poles or low crossrails. He’ll also canter off, or stop, after a fence, whichever is asked for.

And I really do need to borrow a Western saddle, and sort out a Western bridle (since he seems to exhibit a distaste of some sort for snaffles, or at least the cheek pieces as he’ll go nicely in a jointed kimberwicke, the trick will be figuring out a bit) and see what he thinks, because he is dreadfully, dreadfully quick to catch on to the idea of barrels. Given the heat, we didn’t do much today, but after jumping twice we tried a couple runs around the cans. I started with a trot, but Lucky didn’t object to picking up a canter, or to stretching out a bit after the last barrel. And when I turned him back to try again, he picked up a canter on his own. He’s still not flexible enough yet to really turn and burn, but he’s more than willing to try. Which, truth to tell, is more enthusiasm than he’s shown for jumping. Maybe the competitive drive translates.

Versatility Horse

How is it that now I’m much too old for 4-H, I have the perfect 4-H horse? I also spent too much time at the fair yesterday to ride, though I picked up shampoo and liniment at the tack van (and is it sick and sad that I thought “Hm, they’ve got a good price on Mane n’ Tail and two bottles left, I’m out of shampoo at home” and bought two, one for him, one for me?) and drooled over a lovely brown suede bareback pad. I also think I need to start showing Western, just because one can never have too many sparkly things and then I’d have real considerations about what colors look good on Lucky, rather than dithering over weaves of navy blue. I stopped at the barn long enough to give him a bath with the new shampoo and to find he seems to have a new roommate. Dino’s been moved to his stall paddock, while Lucky’s now sharing with Dom, the palomino pony. Dom, despite the wash rack being in full view, was convinced I was taking Lucky in for dinner and leaving him out. Even putting Lucky back out didn’t seem to convince him otherwise.

Today the other boarders were out working with their horses, so instead of starting off in the ring like I’d planned, I rode out to where they were walking Sky on the track. Lucky was not any different about being out there than he is alone, which is nice to know. I gave him a jog and a little hand gallop, not that he was too interested, then headed back to the arena. In the interest of seeing if people might be right and he really might respect a bigger fence, I’d set up trot poles to an x with what, given Lucky’s canter, would probably be two strides to an oxer. The back rail was set at 12″, with an X in front and probably a 12″ spread, maximum. (It would have been closer but the standards only fit so close together. It still looked freakin’ imposing from where I was sitting. But I put him over the X once and stopped straight, went back and took the poles and X and just looked past the oxer. Darned if he didn’t bounce over it. I wouldn’t exactly say he cracked his back, but he didn’t stop in front of the jump, either.

For once in my life, I learned from experience and didn’t ask for a second try. Instead, inspired by gymkhana day Friday, I had set up cloverleaf barrels, and put up buckets with flags. We tried it at the trot, both ways (right-left-left and left-right-right) and I tried for a canter. I swear, Lucky had figured the general idea out, because when I asked for more speed, he was already head up and ready to go. He doesn’t corner very well, but he doesn’t corner very badly either. Flags, we stuck to trotting, more due to my lack of eye-hand coordination than anything else, but they went into the bucket. Lucky I think could see it in my right hand and on our first attempt he wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, so we missed the barrel, but we went around again and got the flag in. If we worked on some neck reining–well, he’s probably never going to chase cans for a living and I doubt he’s ever going to be super-fast around turns, but he could probably be a passable gaming horse. He also seems to be figuring out the jumping thing. He’d be a great 4-H horse, assuming he could handle the fairgrounds.

Now, the real question, though: can he handle hounds? Must find some and find out.

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