First Day Out!

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Not enough fly spray in the western hemisphere, but we try.

Not enough fly spray in the western hemisphere, but we try.

Coming out!  (Thursday provides an escort.)

Coming out! (Thursday provides an escort.)

Thursday is an expert at photobombs.

Thursday is an expert at photobombs.

You can see Lucky was very excited.

You can see Lucky was very excited.

Whee!

Whee!

Maybe a little excited.

Maybe a little excited.

We're not getting back in the truck, are we?

We’re not getting back in the truck, are we?

Exploring the hill.  And the shade-it's hot and muggy today.

Exploring the hill. And the shade-it’s hot and muggy today.

Finding the good rolling spot is critical.

Finding the good rolling spot is critical.

But eventually the most interesting thing is the grass.

But eventually the most interesting thing is the grass.

It’s a hot and muggy day as the dogs would attest if dogs could type, though not so hot Tucker didn’t grab her chance to run after a rabbit on the road (Dad stepped on her leash before she could keep going into the swamp.) Right now, Lucky and Tice seem most interested in the hay under the lean-to and hoping that someone might think about letting them back into the barn. (No, horses. Go eat more grass.) They’ve been fly sprayed to the hilt, but some of the flies aren’t convinced.

However, we're trying some all-natural fly control...

However, we’re trying some all-natural fly control…

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

But I went to the barn anyway. Good thing I left early and was not planning to actually ride.

Nor was I planning to precipitate a stampede. In fact, given all four of the herd were at the very far end of their pasture, I was more worried about running the gauntlet in the lanes–Zoey and Dino were out in the lanes, and Zoey assumes that everyone is coming to see him so he gets more than a little personal. I made it past them, and was headed for the far end of the field when J. must have come out to help. P-nut looked up, and two people coming normally means “time to go in!” Now, P-nut is looking much more spry these days (thanks to getting much better feed than he did at his old place) but I didn’t know he could run like that. And, of course, that meant Vandy, Sky, and Lucky had to come charging, too. I probably looked pretty silly swinging the lead at them, but I was not trampled, so that was good. The best part was, when I made it back to the gate, while P-nut was happy to come over for scritches (as P-nut is a very friendly horse) Lucky realized who it was and started walking away again! Fortunately, I had Wint-o-green Lifesavers in my pocket, and Lifesavers have a crinkly wrapper. Yes, Lucky can be bought with crinkles.

We live in the lake-effect snowbelt, and for those who haven’t been watching the weather, we are getting winds and snow. Less snow than last weekend, but the wind is pushing it around. Also, yesterday was rain, so overnight, it all turned to ice. I’m closer to the lake and a tad farther north, so I tend to get more snow than the barn. Still, I had figured it would just be a ‘beauty parlor’ day, and I was right. While J. worked on the stalls, I gave Lucky a scrub with the curry and a little Bath In a Bottle, including picking out all the shavings and straw in his tail. He also was due for a clipping of the bridle path, as it was starting to look more like a mohawk. Yet again, I resisted the urge to give him a crew cut (I think he’d look cute with a roached mane) though J. had to remind him, don’t move when the barber’s working or you get a bad haircut!

Lucky got his first candy cane of the year. I also put candy canes in everyone’s stockings (yes, everyone gets a stocking on their stall door) and found that his pasturemates (ie, their “mom”, C.) had left a bag of horse cookies in Lucky’s. Lucky appreciates his Christmas gift. We tried putting him in his stall instead of trying to fight our way back to the pasture, but he decided to chew on his feed tub bottom. So, J. got the big door and I turned him out in the front paddock, since he obviously wanted to be outside. Where he promptly went and stood in the shelter, which is much less cozy than his stall. But he does set his own agenda.

Sharp-eyed readers of Susan Salk’s blog may have noticed that next week’s edition will feature a certain internet-celebrity thoroughbred! Lucky gets more press than some Derby winners. All to the good, as hopefully Lucky will inspire folks to call on those Finger Lakes’ Finests! It’s down to the wire (no pun intended) at the track, and weather or no, now is the time to buy!

Lucky’s Not the Lone Ranger

Not anymore. Though his new roommate is not exactly in the same racing class.

The new boarder arrived Friday. Lucky is no longer tallest. I would guess his new paddock-mate is more in the 16.3 range, and he’s bigger-boned. Since I haven’t met his owner yet, I won’t “out” his registered name. His barn name is Zoey, and he’s twelve if the registered name is correct. He had two starts in his career, and according to equibase he was . . . we’ll say undistinguished. Does not keep him from having a very pretty trot and canter at liberty. Which he demonstrated. Repeatedly. Up and down and around. Because he did not like that I came and got Lucky, then taunted him by riding in the ring right next to their paddock.

I swapped bits again today and put the “fun” bit and reins on while I rode in the close-contact. (By “fun” I mean the rubber mullen-mouth dee and racing reins.) Lucky was either well-rested, as I hadn’t been out since last Monday, or just feeling good after a week of cold weather (despite that having changed drastically and gone back to the mid-nineties this weekend) but I nearly got left behind on a couple of transitions! I’m used to having to ask nicely, then ask more firmly, then potentially get the crop involved. Today, I had a couple times where I only had to ask once. And very nearly got bounced out of my seat. Maybe he was showing off for the new guy. I even popped him over an X (I hadn’t planned to, especially as I forgot to throw my low boots in the car and was riding in my work shoes. As my stirrups don’t have pads in, not too big a worry.) He was not hugely interested in jumping, but he wasn’t ready to pack it in immediately, either.

We even had company. The B.O. came out with Dino, and I actually got to ride with another person! Lucky was fine about it. He and Dino were not especially thrilled with the flies, though. They could bathe in fly spray and probably it wouldn’t make any difference: they’re nasty.

And of course, on a day when someone else was riding, and it was suggested I could get out Takota to ride if I wanted when I was done with Lucky, I didn’t have time. Lucky got a sponging down and his peppermints (peppermints: life is good) and I was off to the Meijers’ in Three Rivers, with a toss-up whether I had enough time to get from there to home and still have time to make it to my dance lesson. On the assumption I wouldn’t, I had packed a cooler with ice packs. And I was out riding Lucky despite having worked and having a lesson and having no food because I likely will not get back out until Sunday (when hopefully I can take Takota for a spin as well.) Dance competition on Friday–my first time doing all five Latin, and my first with the New Pro. So I don’t especially mind having to run like crazy. But it would still be nice to get a ride on another horse.

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.

Forward, Ho!

I probably shouldn’t be, but I find it surprising how much riding Lucky is like riding a “normal” horse. In other words, not a racehorse. I go to the barn, get him out, put him in the crossties, complain about how much sand he managed to grind into his coat, groom him, tack him up and go for a ride. Sure, there are little things (track-style picking of his feet from the near side, something I give up arguing with him about, the odd step-off when mounting, the fact that he likes inside rein/inside leg for a canter cue) but mostly, we’ve gotten to where I get on, he takes some prodding for the first trot, and it’s not far different from riding my old horse when he was eight, when he’d been four years off the track.

Forward is better. The whip is still a mandatory accessory as he needs a tap or two at times to get going in the first trot, and there is not much bending through corners going on (though there is a tiny bit.) Contact is slowly being achieved, and best of all the canter is now coming from almost a walk on the left, and with a relatively short distance of trot steps on the right. The lead is even more correct than not. Today he picked up the left on the first try, but when he stumbled I still don’t have enough contact to keep him up, and he swapped to recover. I think he scared himself a bit, too. The one major thing I would change at the barn, which overall is awesome, is the outdoor, while huge, has a significant slope. Not a big hill, but enough that he feels it going up and has to balance himself going down, which I suppose is good preparation for riding out, but does make balancing him harder. I do like that there’s the sand arena, but there’s also a long strip of grass down one side, so I can work him and jump him on two different surfaces without having to haul the jumps very far or find a wide-open spot on the grass when everyone’s turned out in the pastures.

I think he’s starting to get the idea about jumping. Though only for very short periods. I really need to learn to quit while I’m ahead, but when he’s going forward, and actually seeming to anticipate the X or the pole, it’s hard to make one pass and say “We’re good.” He is starting to pick UP speed, though, rather than slow down, though we had a “Whoa wait what?” moment trotting the poles at first (J. bought PVC pipe to replace the grayed, warping wood poles that tended to blend into the sand and I think the bright-white made Lucky do a double take.) But the second time, we rapped the X hard, and the third he knocked a rail down.

Tomorrow I’m not sure what we’ll do. I’m debating taking him out for a gallop and giving him a mental break, but it’ll depend on the weather. I had a cold towel around my neck, was wearing thin cotton tights and an open-neck polo, and there were still moments where it was simply hot.

Apparently, we have found one thing that Lucky will react to: I had a message from the B.O. earlier this week. They were having an estate auction across the road, and there was a loudspeaker system. Lucky is in the closest paddock to the road, with just a house and yard between him and the street and the house hosting the sale, and apparently could hear everything. According to the B.O., as soon as the loudspeaker came on, his head went up, and he started racing and prancing around his pen like it was off to the races. My mom, when I told her, asked the interesting question “I wonder what he’d think of the fair?” It does make you wonder what he’d think about a horse show and the public-address system.

Spring Sillies

An e-mail update from the BO this morning. Yesterday, we had pretty constant cold rain, so everyone stayed inside. When she went out this morning apparently Lucky was a little pushy about going out, though he waited when asked. When she turned him out in his pasture, he decided to have a gallop around, complete with bucks, and he finished by rearing up at Dino. (Dino, apparently, gave him a look like “You crazy, man.”)

I have seen the specialist about my finger. Besides a bone fragment in the joint, I have what is called an enchondroma in the fingertip. It’s a bony tumor that makes the bone brittle. It’s in the distal phalanx, the tiniest bone, so if they operate they can’t put a plate on, just clean it out and pack it. Apparently these are little tumors that usually don’t get found unless you break another bone and they notice it on x-ray. He put a new, more comfortable splint on my hand, which is nice. What isn’t nice is he really does not want me riding or dancing or doing anything where I might “fall.” I really don’t think he’s being realistic here. So far I’ve banged it around mostly at home. I’m not kidding myself that I COULD fall riding (dance not so much–I’m not doing anything like lifts likely to cause a fall, and if I trip I have someone to catch me!) But I think he is drastically misreading where I’m likely to hurt myself. So we’ll see how well I listen.

Apparently I Have a Clever Horse

So I got an e-mail from the BO today saying Lucky was turned out in the lanes behind the barn. He’d visited with Trudy, was hanging out near Takota, didn’t seem worried when they took the tractor through, basically having a good day.

So I get home from a late day at work (our monthly lecture–hey, extra pay and they’re usually interesting speakers.) I have another e-mail from the BO. When a horse is turned out in the lanes, she and her husband string a rope across that end of the barn to keep the horse out (the house side has a roll-down metal gate.)

You see where I’m going with this.

She came out to feed, and lo and behold, there is Lucky standing in the barn aisle. He has pulled down four bales of hay and is having himself a hay buffet. He’s very casual about it when she comes in. The rope is still up across the end of the barn. It is high enough he probably did not jump it and low enough he would have had to crouch down quite far for a horse to go under, but I am fairly sure that’s what he did. (Good to know he’s fine with stuff brushing his back.) She put him in his stall, cleaned up his salad bar, and got a bin and pitchfork to clean up in the lanes and the barn aisle.

No poop.

It took a minute, apparently, to figure out why. In addition to deciding grass is boring and the pile of hay out for him in the lanes is not as good as bales he chose himself, Lucky also figured “Why get the grass or the cement dirty when I can just go into Takota’s nice clean stall and do it there?” Yes, he went back INTO the barn, into Takota’s stall (the biggest, of course) and did all his business for the day there.

I have a clever horse. Worthy of a midweek update at least.

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