Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Evening Scene

Yesterday I had a very busy day. I left home around 6:30 to cover the morning feed at the stable where I work, which I'd never done before so it was slow and included several moments of irritation. Then I returned to the house, changed quickly and left again to work at the gallery until 4:00. After that I came home and had tea with Brian, then headed out to the stable where I keep Steen around 5:20.

I have already observed that the later I am there, the higher my chances are of running into the other boarders. When I arrived, Heather (a girl about my age who does saddle-seat) was in the barn talking to Cathi (the woman who owns the place). I said hello, and was immediately greeted and regaled with some funny barn stories and offered a beer (which I declined).

Then I went and got Steen. He was very fidgety and very muddy, so grooming was not the greatest experience for either of us. He likes to swing from side to side when he's tied up, and when we're not in the arena none of the effective techniques I've learned for getting him to hold still are applicable. I tried putting him in the cross-ties, but this just made him even more agitated, so I took him out again.

Then another woman who's name I can never remember and her horse Star came in and tied up in the grooming slot next to us, which calmed Steen a little. I managed to get him clean enough to put his saddle on, and went to the arena.

In the arena Heather was riding her horse Tommy in her dressage saddle and Cathi was on her gigantic (18 hand) thoroughbred, Jimmy, bareback with the reins in one hand and a Bud Light in the other. She wasn't really riding, just sitting and talking to Heather. When I came in they were very curious to see Steen under saddle (since he tends to walk around breathing audibly through his nostrils and can be such a case when he's tied, most people at the barn thing he's far less manageable than he is), and I think were favorably impressed. He got lots of compliments on his gaits and his looks, so that was good.

Then those two left the arena and Steen got super agitated to be left alone, but I got his attention back quickly and we finished our session before too long. He's improving rapidly as far as riding goes. I just wish his ground-manners progress was a little more consistent.

I un-tacked him quickly and would have spent more time grooming, but Star's owner was going back and forth to the tack room a lot and giving me looks which seemed disapproving. So, I just brushed him down and was leading him back to the pasture when Cathi stopped me, opened a stall door and said, "Stick him in here for now."

I did, but mentioned that he possibly had never been in a stall before, so Cathi donated some grain to the cause of keeping him quiet, and handed me a longe whip. Then she led me, Star's owner and Heather out to participate in the fun task of moving the herd from one pasture to another. Cathi started a stampede by calling to the dominant members of the herd and rattling some grain in her bucket and then running like mad from one open gate to another once she had their attention. The three of us with whips stood in a line and kept any stray herd member from detouring off the route between the two gates. The whole herd streamed by and ran off into the new pasture, which is full of lush, high grass and no mud. I retrieved Steen from his stall and let him out with the others, and although he kept going to the gate that led to the old pasture and looking forlorn, I am sure he will adjust soon. Even better, it is supposed to rain today. So between that and his new mud-free environment, he should be looking a little cleaner before I see him again tomorrow.

It was an enjoyable evening, but the drawback to adding in all the other people and social chit-chat is that it slows the whole process down tremendously. I wasn't home until after 8:00. So, I think I'm going to usually strive for getting there earlier in the afternoon, but on occasion when I've got time, I'll go later because it can be fun hanging out with horse people in addition to horses.

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