My accident prone horse decided that this time, banging his eye would be a good way to freak mom out. It was. Good job horse. Turns out it’s fine, just ugly. But while I was trying to look at it and take a picture for trainer who was at a show, all he wanted to do was lean into my hand holding his halter and get snuggles. It was so sweet and unlike him. He’s always been a sweet horse who wants interaction, but he was leaning into my whole arm and closing his eyes. I loved it.
After a busy few weeks a limited riding, I didn’t even realize I was in a funk until he leaned into me and my heart melted.
Actually, with a heat index of 108 everything melted but that’s beside the point.
Since his leg puffiness is still not completely gone, but definitely going down, I gave him a light hack to see if he was still sound on it and to see how he looked after getting ridden. It was also miserably hot and there wasn’t a lot of motivation to work hard so there’s that.
We had a nice long groom since he was crusty and gross and I haven’t been able to spend much time just breathing in my horse, and then I hosed down the sleeves of my sunshirt and the back of my neck, and even sponged Val just a little before hopping on. Side bar: the best thing about sunshirts is when you hose them down before a ride, promise.
Even though he’s had barely any work for 2-3 weeks for miscellaneous reasons (moving, puffy leg, etc.) we had a really lovely ride. Almost all of our upward transitions came from behind instead of using his front end to pull himself up into the gait, and our downward transitions didn’t splat or require much hand at all. It was kind of amazing really how much he really came to work yesterday. I think he was just glad to be doing things again. Maybe he’s been practicing in his field, because I also noticed that his neck is looking better and better despite the limited work.
In an effort to make our canter work even better, I’ve really been thinking about myself and how I ask for the canter I want. Kathryn at Incidents of Guidance posted a really helpful lesson recap the other day where she discussed lifting the horses shoulders with your thigh (I guarantee her explanation will make more sense than if I tried) and not driving the horse into the ground with your seatbones when the horse’s front end is hitting the ground. I’ve been working really hard to think about that, especially since Val has a typical, sensitive TB back. Holy cow is it hard for both of us, but when I really get it right, he instantly gives me a few super correct strides. To the right he did this well, and to the left, our weaker side, this was hard for both of us but still pretty decent.
I only rode for 20-25 minutes, mostly in walk and trot, and then we went for a walk around the property to cool out and and remembered again how much I love my horse, and how grateful I am that he found me. Do you ever have one of those rides where you just feel so blissful after the ride, even though nothing particularly amazing happened? Those days are why I do this. When I can just be on my horse and know it’s where I most belong.
Afterward, Val got rinsed over his whole body to get off the crusties, and I even scrubbed all over him to really get him feeling kind of clean again. I know how good I feel after I get all of the dried sweat off of myself in the shower. And bonus, while I was rinsing him, one of the friendlier barn cats came over do drink the drips off of the hose, and Val finally got to say hello. That’s one more thing off of his bucket list! It was pretty cute actually. He always really wants to be friends with the cats and dogs that come through, and he was so gentle while he sniffed the kitty.
We had only 1 spook in the crossties so that’s progress, but we had 2 spooks undersaddle which was weird so I don’t know what’s up with this horse. Regardless, we had more snuggles and loving after bath time, and he was just so sweet all day. I wish I could just spend all my time with Val, because I honestly like him more than most of the people I know, and he’s always happy to see me. Even when I was leaving, I said bye to him from my car, and he walked from the middle of his pasture to the fence and nickered to me, so obviously I had to go back and give him more kisses.
This horse has stolen my whole heart, and I don’t even want it back.