On Friday I went to see the horse. It was a cold,snowy day, but was only threatening to get colder and snowier, so I figured I would work in a visit before it got too bad. Jazz and her buddies were huddled in the shelter against the freezing wind. I can't say I blame Jazz if she doesn't want to be caught on days like that where a long walk directly into the wind is promised on the way to the warm arena. It was cold enough I decided to start with a warmup in the arena instead of a quick groom in the barn. A good friend of mine, R, was inside riding, and it was nice to catch up a bit. I did a little basic work, mostly leading to get the muscles warm and the pony brain paying attention. Jazz then proceeded to be a superstar letting herself be ground tied within five steps of the door (which is really incredible considering her former love affair with gates when I started working with her) while I picked her feet and gave her a quick currying. Just when we had finished, another horse came into the arena. The other boarder was still riding in the far end of the arena, finishing up some work she'd been doing with ground poles, and I was hanging out in the close end of the arena.
The horse who had just come in was clearly not having the best day. The girl with her said that she was on rest for an injury and she didn't think she'd been handwalked in a day or two. I recognized the sort of jitteriness Jazz gets when I take her inside and it's been icy outside, where she's finally on good footing and has a few days of ice-prevented energy to get out. Jazz was pretty distracted by this at first, but a couple of quick exercises brought her right back to me. R offered to move into the middle to let her handwalk around the outside track, but the horse was not a fan of the back half of the arena. There were even a few kicks, and strikes, and rears. It was exactly what Jazz would have been like if she'd been confined last winter. Then R offered to put the poles away if she thought that would help, and I helped drag them back. Jazz is so funny whenever I put poles away. She absolutely has to sniff them once I'm holding one end and they're slanted. It's much harder to get her to back away from them than anything else.
Eventually I did saddle up, and I tested her with the bit a little. I hadn't ridden since her teeth were done, just to give her a little time for her mouth to heal up. Having spent most of Christmas with the worst imaginable canker sore, I had plenty of sympathy for mouth lacerations. I decided the best way to test her would just be to get on, so I hopped up. By the time I was riding, both R and the other boarder had left, and another friend came in to warm up and blanket her horse. Jazz was very forward, and was in the kind of mood where fussing too much with the bit (especially asking for too many halts) will set her off, so I did what I call a "bareback protocol" ride. I let her go forward until her energy levels off, which usually doesn't take too long. I just walked her and tried to sit as quietly as possible until she finally relaxed and I could feel her quiet and come up through her back a little. She had one spook in the scary K corner with all the jumps, where she took off in a weird crazy trot, so I pretty much just walked. I did ask for the trot at one point, but when I got the same sort of spooky weird explosion, I decided walking was lots (again with bareback protocol. I'm not that great of a bareback rider, so generally my bareback rides consist of not irritating her so she doesn't throw me off when I'm working on my balance). I hopped off shortly after, unbridled, and lunged her a bit so she could get out some of that energy I didn't want to ride out under saddle.
Lucky horse even got some cookies. The barn management always gives out a nice card and horse treats to all the boarders for Christmas, so I made an exception to my no cookies rule. Jazz did a little carrot stretching and bow stretching, and I was reminded of why I have the rule in the first place. Such a little cookie monster! Her brain was all but gone once she knew there were cookies.
I was very glad to have arrived when I did, because it got just as snowy and cold as promised while I was there. The light dusting of snow I had brushed off Jazz at the beginning of our ride was replaced by one twice as thick in the twenty yard walk from the barn to her pasture.
|Maybe it's just a winter thing where I take no pictures until the horse is put away and I'm about to leave.|
I also had a productive Saturday when it got too cold to do much at the barn and made a pilgrimage to the tack shop to pick up a product that might just help me cross off that product review goal... stay tuned for that!