Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fat and Sassy

Well, perhaps not exactly fat, but in the last couple of weeks Steen has definitely been changing shape and I am heartened by this. I wasn't at the barn for quite a few days because we left town for Thanksgiving. On Sunday the farrier came, so Steen got his feet trimmed and Duke took a moment to tell me what excellent feet Steen has, and how he wears them almost perfectly evenly and they are nice and solid and shapely in spite of never having had shoes. This made me happy.

I didn't ride Sunday because the barn was packed and the arena was full of little kids and lessons and I had a meeting with a client to prepare for, anyway, but I went back yesterday morning and, as usual, had the place to myself.

We got our first snow over the last few days, and while a great quantity didn't stick because temps were on the warm side, all the fields are covered in white, and lot of the whiteness has melted and then frozen on the roads between here and the barn. This made the going treacherous, but I just reminded myself that driving 10-20 mph slower than usual the whole way is still faster than sliding off the road and getting stuck, and things worked out fine. I do have my reservations about the curving, steep hill on the half mile of dirt road I have to cross to reach my stable, but I guess I'll deal with that problem when and if I can't make it up in my civic.

Anyway, I got to the barn and once again appreciated the fact that Steen was indoors and dry. I took him to the grooming area and got him all cleaned up, which didn't really take much doing at all. Since I like to try to teach him to have good manners even when he's not forced to by a rope, I have gotten into the habit of not tying Steen when we are the only ones in the barn. This usually works just fine. He hangs out where he's supposed to and has never once done anything other than stay put, even as I walk in and out of the tack room for grooming supplies and tack, and sometimes even leave the barn to use the restroom.

However, Steen's thoughts about the barn have apparently changed a bit in the last two weeks. Obviously, he's gotten more comfortable there. Also, since there are only a few horses outside at a time, when the horses come in for their meals, the barn worker just walks outside and opens the pasture gate, and all the horses come in and go into their stalls where they know their grain is waiting. So apparently Steen has concluded that he now has the authority to take himself all over the barn whenever he so desires, because when I came back out of the tack room with his bridle, he was gone.

Since there was no one else in the barn and all the outside doors were closed, this was more funny than anything else. I followed him, and discovered he'd walked all the way through the indoor arena and back to the entrance from there to the stall area, where he was apparently hesitating because that is not the way he normally enters the stall area. He made no attempt to get away from me when I caught up to him, and quietly followed me back to the grooming area, where I clipped his halter to one of the cross-ties. He then proceeded to swivel into the aisle a few times, but I corrected him and he soon settled back down. What a goofball.

It was windy, and that had him a little nervous, but for the most part the ride went well considering it had been so long since I'd done any real work with him. I worked on a flexing exercise that is supposed to help with suppleness through the whole body, and it seemed to accomplish not only this, but really seemed to relax him as well. As he walked in large circles, I could see his head come down and his body start to bend willingly. It was very interesting. Then, when I'd let him walk straight again, he'd slowly get more nervous at the wind howling around the outside of the building and his head would start to come up again until we worked on bending again. I will definitely add this exercise to our normal routine.

In spite of the wind, it was a mostly nice ride, though quite cold (probably 24 in the barn). I need to find a way to keep my feet warm. And once again there was something very nice about accomplish my whole ride without ever having waded out into the half-frozen muck of the mud lot.

1 comment:

  1. Heh, I hear you on not wanting to slog through the mud to get to the horse. My guys have been living in a mud pit the last few days...I think I'm going to wear my snow boots instead of my riding boots for awhile.

    As for feet, my reading and experience leads me to believe that horses who are not shod generally have better feet than those who are shod. Having left my guys barefoot for several years at various times, it seems their feet harden and wear better when they're not in shoes.


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