The New Normal

I finally got to ride on Saturday. But in typical Texas fashion, the temps dropped 30 degrees over night, and there was gusting wind all day. I finally made it to the barn around 4 in the afternoon, which was about the warmest point in the day, and the most still. I was fully expecting to be doing damage control for my entire ride, but instead, I pulled out a horse that was actually quiet and relaxed and incredibly…normal. Even after a two-week vacation.

I groomed for a while, getting off as much of that winter fuzz as possible, but with the cold snap, he’s kind of holding on to what he’s still got. We’re definitely at the ugly phase of spring shedding. I used all of my brushes on basically every inch of my horse, and as usual, by the end of that he was dozing in the cross ties. Then I tacked up, hopped on, and cross my fingers for the best.

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I didn’t ask for anything too hard, and we only hacked for maybe 30 minutes. We practiced the things we’re pretty good at and tried to polish a little, and played with the things we struggle with. Since we’ve got our lesson on Saturday, I opted to let new dressage trainer fix those things that we aren’t doing well/correctly, and instead just made sure he was responsive to lateral aids. I was so impressed that he didn’t even feel wired like he usually would after a 2 week vacation, and instead I was wishing I had grabbed spurs for the lateral work.

My equine massage therapy book came in last week as well, so I took the opportunity to play around with some of the stuff in it. Since we’ve never done that before, I stuck to just his poll, neck, and wither area. There were some spots he clearly enjoyed, and some spots where he tried to move away from the pressure (which is actually a reasonable response, but not what I needed at the moment). A few times he dropped his nose to the ground, only to instantly be fascinated by whatever he found down there. His attention span was not long, which made the body work a tad tricky.

Overall, I think he enjoyed himself, and it was a good workout for my arms. I’m excited to incorporate more of this into our day-to-day.

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Sunday was more of the same (with spurs!). Nice thorough grooming, and then a flat to reinforce good habits, with a few jumps thrown in at the end since we haven’t jumped in a while. We did a lot of changes in direction to loosen up his body and lots of opening the trot on the diagonal to free up his shoulder. We had some of the best canter work we’ve had to date, ending with a long and low suuuper stretchy canter, because he asked to stretch his nose down after jumping. He cantered with his nose almost brushing the ground, while still feeling round, and coming from behind so that we covered pretty significant ground. We ended with some stretchy trot and a walk to cool out, then a nice long hand graze while I watched the lesson going on in the sand arena.

I’ve mentioned this before, but being able to pull my horse out after a two-week vacation and get straight to work is kind of incredible for us. What’s even more amazing, is that this seems to be our new normal. My little OTTB has finally figured out that he’s a grown up (At only 12 years old!), and has learned how to come to work every day. I’d like to think that this is partly good training, and partly that he trusts me to let him stretch or go for a hand gallop if that’s what he needs, and that he’s enjoying the work more, now that he has the muscles and strength it requires.

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Cutest little kinda sorta grown up horse.

Either way, this new normal is 100% OK with me, and I can’t wait to be torn apart strut our stuff in our lesson on Saturday.

How is your horse after a vacation? Are they more the fire-breathing variety, or would they rather go back to their field to never work again?

8 thoughts on “The New Normal

  1. Jenn

    Horses, man. Sometimes they surprise you! Glad to hear Val had his brain attached after having 2 weeks off 🙂 That stretchy canter sounds truly dreamy!

    I rode Roger yesterday, and he was convinced that SOMETHING by the gate (read: nothing) was evil and going to kill him, so I had a horse kite for a few minutes. It was cold and super windy, so I expected a fight the entire time. Wellllll, little bugger loves to prove me wrong, because it was one of our best flat rides to date! I only rode him for about 20 mins because he was being so good, but I was more surprised that once I got on him, his brain was engaged and he came to work. Gotta love the OTTBs!

  2. my lease mare used to be borderline unmanageable after a couple days off (she’d been allowed to call her own shots for a verrrrry long time before i met her) but once she got the gist of our routine and the general expectations, she’s become a very solid and reliable citizen

    1. I am absolutely planning to do one once I’ve had a chance to get more familiar with the book and played around more. Maybe in the mean time I can do a mini review/preview type of write up!

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