Monday, September 8, 2008


Overcast, damp, cool & still, Sunday evening was a great night for sticky heel flies. I'd collected the horses already (having remembered to pick up the salt block, wormer, and some iodine shampoo - well, the last just caught my eye - on the way) when J came out to tell me that the lady who was supposed to come look at Pennie had called. Their calves were out, and she was running late, could she come another evening? No problem.

But since I was there, saddle etc. in tow....
It's been 5 years bare minimum since Pennie has worn a saddle for more than a brief session of leadline around the pasture with J's grand-nieces & nephews. Anticipating nothing more than that, she thoroughly enjoyed the grooming, and slept through being saddled. Evaded the bit slightly on bridling, but generally wasn't concerned.

Since my usual pasture for riding is half covered in downed trees, and Pennie has at best, reduced vision in her left eye, I let her take a good look around before we started.

She was snorty & nervous to be away from the herd. Even though they were right up the hill, she was definitely displeased. This was not how she'd pictured spending her afternoon. Sorry, darling, it wasn't my idea, either!

About 30 seconds after I stepped onto her the first time I got right back off. Maybe in a nicely turned (and fenced) arena, I would have stayed aboard and let her kite around a bit. Maybe. Instead, I retrieved gloves, longe line & dressage whip, and we longed until she'd settled enough to pay attention.

Promising signs - no bucking, no snorting, squealing or charging. She whipped around the circle at a pretty good clip, digging up turf & pulling, but eventually settled into a nicely cadenced trot with up and down transitions in both directions. When her jaw unclamped and she'd whoa & walk on demand, I let her rest a bit before we reviewed transitions in both directions again. All told, she probably circled for about 30-45 minutes. (And if you don't think 24 hour turn-out on a hilly pasture will keep a horse fit, by the time we finished longeing I was wet - it was about 55-60'. Pennie, who was doing most of the work, had damp patches under the saddle, cinch & bridle, and was warm & barely damp to touch on her neck & flanks. No froth, no foam - she wasn't even breathing that hard.)

By this point, she was actually paying attention, so I stepped back on. (And yes, this is definitley a "where's my helmet" moment.) I let her have her head as long as she'd listen to whoa & turn when & where I asked. We walked big loops & figure eights for about 10 minutes, which was enough for the evening.

She has a long, rocking stride, even at a walk. That big hind end is powerful. She didn't seem to much like the Myler comfort snaffle I used, but I'm not sure if that was actual discomfort or simply dislike of the whole riding business. I couldn't locate the full cheek snaffle I think I used with her previously, but I'll have another go at locating it before I ride her next.

Interestingly, her attempts to evade are more side-side head-shaking and stiff-neckedness than nose in the air antics. She has (well, had) a beautiful neck-rein and is good off leg pressure. I wasn't getting that last night, though.I'll longe her again and ride a bit longer tonight if it stays dry. She needs a refresher in "listen" but the basics are there, and there was no thought of a buck to be seen. J took pictures & some video of Pennie on the longe line to send to the prospective buyer - hopefully she's still interested and the escaped cows weren't just a convenient excuse!

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