…cue tuneless “aaaah”ing.
I think I’m in love. And it’s one of those things where somehow you have to dumb down those feelings in order to remain practical and sensible. A part of my head has to stay logical these days, I can’t just let myself run away with my thoughts of galloping into the sunset on a beautiful horse.
And this is a seriously beautiful horse. I don’t just mean the way she looks either. She has the sweetest nature. She makes me smile. And she has this big trot which is to die for. Although the lesson Ginny gave me on her was exhausting and I could barely walk by the end of it, it was amazing to feel the movement of this horse. She has this gorgeous swing to her back and a lovely big stride. She’s unfit at the moment, so keeping her going is a bit of a challenge, but something about her feels good. I sit on her, and I feel good. She’s a good mare.
And that trot. Oh that trot. It is truly wonderful. Her whole body lifts with every stride as she powers down the long side of the school, her hocks taking control and pushing forward. That hock action is amazing, she’s so powerful with such lightness to her movement it barely makes sense.
As of yet we don’t know whether or not we will be keeping her. My instincts tell me that we should because she has the potential to be the most fantastic all round horse. Suitable for the advanced rider due to her youth and ability, but calm and quiet enough in nature for a beginner to feel at ease and safe. She will need a little more training, sure, but I think she’d be a sound investment for the stables. Time will tell I suppose.
But I do think I’m falling in love with this big beautiful mare.
It seems that at the moment we have more horses than we need. Certainly more horses than we have stables. Now that the summer season is over, the issue comes with the fact that we have all of these horses to feed and keep, with very few of them paying their way. The sensible thing then, would be to remove a few of the ones who are not contributing anything to the yard.
One of these is Skelatchi. I adored him last year, he was my favourite. Despite his stupid trot and grumpy face, I loved that horse. When I returned this year and found that he was out of work due to a sore back, I was gutted. Throughout the summer, however, we started to use him more and more, although still only for staff. He did really well, coping with a trek of 13, cantering through the river, and participating in group schooling in the arena. He’s another one I feel good around, one I feel could come back to us as useful if we were only to give him time.
And now that I have more time, that is exactly what I intend to do. I have begun a fitness programme with him. He is fat. There is no denying it, and so I plan to rectify that. If he loses some weight, he will find it easier to move, and the more he can move and use his muscles, the less likely they are to bunch up and become stiff. Leaving him in the field and using him occasionally because we don’t have enough stables is all very well in theory, but it doesn’t do him any good physically.
Yesterday I began with a simple lungeing session. We worked on both reins in just a bridle, walking and trotting. We did some transitions to get him listening, and he started to step through with his hind end. Immediately I knew, he was trying to work. And he can do it. That horse CAN move. He just doesn’t have the chance to. He is worse to the left, but then we know it’s his left loin area where the muscles are weak. I only lunged him for a short time yesterday, to get the measure of what he could do. I let him off the line and removed his bridle, asking him to work around the school freely. He obliged, brilliantly. His response to voice command is fantastic, and he changed direction easily without me having to get to close. He also showed me just how well he can move by giving me a stunning extended trot.
So, today, I asked a bit more of him and attached some side reins after the warm up. He was confused at first and tried to fight them, threatening to bronck off. But, after a little while, he relaxed and began mouthing at his bit again, attempting the odd stretch into the side reins. His transitions were better, sharper. And after some practice at halt transitions, he started stopping on the circle without turning in towards me. His movement to the left was better, after only a day.
He is a good horse. And I think getting him fit and strong will be worth it, he can only improve. He is also a horse who improves in character if he is worked. In short, he is less of an arsehole when he has a job to do. Which is to the benefit of all!
I also tested Djembe out on the lunge today, to see whether she was capable or not. And, to my surprise, she was more responsive than I expected. Not that she really moved much, she’s exhausting! But she stayed out on the circle and her transitions weren’t terrible. Perhaps getting her fitter will give her more energy. I doubt it, as we tried that before, but I figured it’s worth a try. I’ve decided to try and change my viewpoint on this one, because if I don’t I’ll just keep getting frustrated and annoyed with her. It’ll be better for her, and for me, if I’m able to switch it around and find a way of making things better. So I’m trying her with some lungeing to up her fitness level. We’re also going to start feeding her sugarbeet again, in a bid to give her some more substance. And I’m considering doing some long-reining, to encourage her to step forwards as that is something she certainly struggles with. I might need to buy another lunge line first though!
It feels good to have these projects to be working on. These horses to pour my energy into. It also feels weird to think that this is what I do now. A part of my brain keeps telling me I should be doing something else and stop playing with ponies. I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that this is my job. Training these horses, keeping them fit, trying new approaches to improving them; that’s what I’m supposed to be doing! And it feels good. Although when Athos said “ah, here’s our stable manager now” to a customer earlier, I couldn’t stop myself from looking over my shoulder to see where.