Monday, September 8, 2008

Pennie: Ride 2

No rain, nothing but some big black, disconnected clouds mixed with nice bright fall sunshine! Which meant I could make riding plans for this evening. Call me a chicken, but I really wasn't up for ride #2 all by myself, cell phone or no, so I wheedled T into going out with me.

Me: "If we can leave work by 4, we'll have two full hours before you have to go bowl...."
T: "Well,...."
Me: "I don't want to ride for long - we'll just be there for an hour or so."
T (who's heard that before - more than once, and knows better): "I don't know... I have some things to finish up, and students who might stop by the office later...."
Me: "We could throw a second saddle in and you could ride Sunny, if you wanted?" Wait a minute, what did I just say?
T: "Hey - that sounds good! I'll see what I can do."

Don't get me wrong, I don't really mind if he rides Sunny... not really. But.... Sunny's my horse - he's used to me, and I've been working on getting him to listen and respond as I like. But T sounded so enthusiastic. So, my options were a) back out, b) have him ride Pennie (er, no!) and c) shut up, and let the man ride my horse. Sigh.

On the plus side, it would give me something else to focus on besides being nervous on Pennie. And as it turned out, it was fine.

But then, we both had plenty to focus on!

I've been graining the horses lightly (a couple cups each) when I call them up, in hopes that they'll reacquire the habit of actually coming when I holler rather than me walking the 1/2 mile to the back pasture to retrieve them. Well, they all came up, but Amyra, T's three-year-old filly was acting a bit odd.

She stuck her nose in the feed pan readily enough, but then backed off and started looking uncomfortable. We kept an eye on her while we groomed & saddled, and when she laid down, called the vet. I don't like messing around with anything that looks like colic. She didn't seem too distressed, but this is not a horse that's bashful about getting her share of the grain.

Rather than not ride at all, we decided T would pony her off Sunny (oh help - now not only is he riding my horse, but ponying off him....), a first for at least two of the three of them. I certainly wasn't going to be so bold as to pony off Pennie. Oh, she'll pony, or at least she used to, but I wanted both hands free - oddly enough!

So, there I was, torn - worry about the balky, possibly colicky mare who could be stopping because she's irritated she's being made to follow, or because she's uncomfortable. Or, worry about the mare I'm on that's not exactly operating on full power steering. Or watch Sunny and worry about what he's going to do with a strange rider who's using only one hand and who's also concentrating on watching the balky mare beyond him. Yeesh!

But you know what - other than Amyra's balkiness and Sunny and T having a few communication issues (T's used to well-broke horses that neck-rein - Sunny's used to, well, me), none of which were serious - everything went pretty smoothly.

The vet arrived, and of course, by that point Amyra seemed fairly perky again. She had good gut sounds in all four quadrants, but he gave her a shot of banamine anyway, and left after telling us to keep an eye on her for a bit. If all continued as she looked then, she would likely be fine.

T & Sunny dragged Amyra 'round the pasture a few more times for practice. Pennie was still a bit resistant and wanted to get back with the other mares, but more settled with company.

After the vet left I paid less attention to the other three - since I'd already survived being distracted, and Pennie'd shown no signs of escalating her resistance, I was more relaxed. And after a couple of good heel-to-ribs thumps when she balked & stiffened her neck, Pennie paid attention and was even beginning to soften, neck-reining through the figure-eights if not exactly effortlessly, at least more smoothly than the plow-reining I was resorting to yesterday.

I never did manage to locate the full-cheek snaffle, but changed out the Myler snaffle for a simple grazing curb with a loosely adjusted leather chinstrap. She was immediately happier with that set-up.

Amyra was trotting around flinging her head at the other mares when we left, so all seemed well there. Sunny looked pleased to have T's greater weight off his back, but not unduly disgusted with his ride. It was interesting watching him respond to T - who was having a heck of a time with my extra-long reins. Both of them were fairly patient even through the mixed signals, and I think given a few more rides, they'll figure each other out.

Overall, I was pleased with Pennie's behavior tonight - maybe tomorrow we'll trot.

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