It's been hectic around here lately. T's home, which - although his year in Kuwait went faster than either of us thought it would - has still been an adjustment for both of us. I was very glad, especially with the way things seem to be going in the Middle East, to have him home. Now if I could just figure out where to store all the paraphenalia that came along with him - lol!
For the past two weeks we've been doing farm chores morning and evening. And if you've ever wondered, 200+ sheep eat a lot. I was closing the gate in the evenings and letting the horses out to eat grass along the driveway, but midway through this week they found the alfalfa bales. Apparently they're much tastier than grass.
So for the few evenings they've been hurrying up to the lot gate when the truck pulls in, and then staring mournfully - and accusingly - at me when I don't let them out to graze. Which I would, if they didn't immediately make a b-line for those enticing alfalfa bales!
I haven't had time to ride much, but I did squeeze in a lesson on Saturday. In preparation, since I hadn't actually saddled Sunny in two weeks, I tacked up English Friday evening after chores and lunged him lightly. I found a new-to-me CWD breastcollar with elastic inserts on ebay for a song a while back, and I wanted to get it adjusted properly for Sunny. Mission accomplished. My thought was that if Eric has us jumping again, I wanted extra assurance that the saddle wasn't slipping (whoever first called a horse's barrel a barrel sure hit the nail on the head there!) but didn't want anything impeding his shoulder, either.
Sunny's still swapping leads to the left, but seemed ready to move out and focus otherwise, and I hopped on afterwards to work on a few stirrup-required things like leg position, two-point, etc. that I haven't worried about since my last lesson.
Pre-lesson at Eric's, C and I rode and chatted for a while catching up on all the goings on. Eric just re-did the outdoor arena fence with big railroad ties and 5-bar sucker rod fence to shoulder height. It's lovely - but the some of the rings of exposed red granite gravel around the post base eat chestnuts, apparently. Sunny was initially convinced that the gravel around the north - and only the north - side post bases would get him and deserved to be snorted at and given a very wide berth. For some reason, the gravel rings on the other three sides weren't dangerous at all when looked at from either direction. Sheesh...
When Eric came out, I quite visiting and collected Sunny up. And promptly heard, "He's off - more than usual - in his right hind. His hock looks a bit puffy..." Sigh. I hadn't noticed anything abnormal when I wrapped his legs. I stopped, got off, and we both took a closer look. Sunny does have capped hocks - not dramatically, but he always has some puffiness. I'm not sure when exactly he managed to bump, kick or otherwise connect with something hard enough to acquire them, but he always a small amount of swelling, and has had for a long time.
He didn't have any heat in his hock, and he didn't seem to mind it being probed, flexed or stretched. The verdict was, keep going, take it easy, and see if he'd warm up out of it. So I got back on much to Sunny's disgust and we finished warming up. Then we did what felt like several hours of sitting trot. From there, Eric had me working on half-passing, which, after I managed to sort out that right is my other left, got dramatically better with each attempt. At least I amused my (small) audience. (C hung out to watch, and Eric's next victim - sorry, student - and her mom had arrived early.) It's always nice when you have an audience to watch you screw up, right?
By that point, Sunny was moving more freely, so Eric had us trot through the cavaletti a few times. By the third loop I could feel him setting up and stretching through his back as we went across - very cool. Then Eric set up a small x for us to trot through. Again, Sunny's first reaction was leave slide marks stopping because, holy cow, mom! That's different than it just was!
The next round, however, I managed to remember to look straight through the standards, and kick! And over he went.
It took a lot less time than the last lesson - only those two complete refusals, and a couple of stalls where I was still able to kick him over. And he only knocked the rails down twice this week. I really wish I'd thought to grab my camera, although I'm sure it wasn't exactly pretty. But it was FUN! We didn't tackle anything much over a foot high - Sunny could comfortably trot over even the rail Eric set up - which was absolutely fine with me. Still a blast!
I don't remember my long-ago jump lessons being fun - more like terrifying. Although the feeling of surprise and relief that I'd survived after every lesson was sort of invigorating....
I'm finding that with the jump to focus on it's not as hard to remember to look up and around my circle, and to keep looking up during transitions. My upward transitions are much, much better than they were. And it's really making me focus on keeping my lower leg consistent, because if I don't Sunny either breaks or we don't get lined up properly for the jump.
We stopped after a particularly enthusiastic effort from Sunny, and he was very pleased to walk his cool down. He was actually sweaty - but not breathing hard at all, since he'd done enough proper jumps to get plenty of breaks throughout. He was very quick to recall that a real "jump" resulted in a chance to walk - lol!
After Sunny was cool, brushed off and napping by the trailer, I went
over to visit Amyra and Buddy, who's rejoined the outdoor crew after our show "season" finished. They're both looking
fat and shiny and pleased with themselves, and would have happily stood
to be fussed over for any length of time. Then it was time to load up and head for home.
Sunday morning Sunny was playing in the pasture with Thunder without favoring anything, and his legs were both cool to the touch with no puffiness anywhere, so I think my lesson here is probably not to do any more lunging the night before a lesson, and try to get more steady riding in so he stays legged up.