Monday, April 27, 2009

One Year In

Saturday was spring-vet day. Steen got his vaccinations, and was exceptionally well-behaved for the vet, always nice, particularly since many of the other horses at the barn are a far cry from easy to handle.

This weekend was also the one-year anniversary of my purchase of Steen. I'd say it has been a pretty satisfactory year. Last week I put a saddle on him for the first time in months and just had the nicest, mellowest ride in the indoor arena. He kept his trot slow, smooth and beautiful the whole time. He is also more and more obviously attached to me, always meeting me at the gate now while other people have to go out and wade through the muck to get their horses. One year in, I still think I made the right choice when I wrote that check and am even more excited to see where we are next time late April rolls around.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Today the quality of my time at the barn made me think repeatedly of a comment my friend Katherine made when I brought her out to meet Steen last summer. At one point I handed her a hair-brush and asked if she wanted to tackle the snarls in Steen's mane. After a few strokes she said, "Wow, he's just like a really big my-little-pony." I laughed and said something like, "Yeah, except you can ride him."

Today I wasn't laughing, or riding. Today my gigantic my-little-pony resembled less the mint collector's specimen kept on a shelf above the reach of children and more the constant companion of a careless or absent-minded child after having been forgotten in a place like the muddy driveway, where it has been run over several times by slow-moving vehicles and possibly worried by a stray dog. Today I felt like the remorseful owner who later finds said neglected toy and after a few minutes spent establishing that this horse-shaped mud-cake is indeed the beloved companion of days past, attempts rehabilitation. I found myself assuring Steen of things like, "The brown stains will fade from the white areas with time," and "Don't worry, it will grow back," when I had to trim off the mud-clogged bottom inch of his tale.

Of course Steen, like the misused toys of this world, is utterly content to carry on in his filthiness. It is for our own pride and edification that we little girls must attempt to keep our ponies pretty.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Firsts

When we woke up this morning, it was 30 degrees out, which is about what we've come to expect here this spring. So, I let things warm up as much as possible and was pleased to note that the sun was at least shining when I arrived at the barn.

I went to get Steen out of the pasture and again he came straight for the gate when he saw me. When I had some trouble undoing the chains, he tried to help me open them with his upper lip. While this was not effective, it was quite entertaining.

Once I got Steen out of the pasture and began leading him up to the barn, I had an epiphany. It was nice out. Granted, I was wearing at least two layers of clothing on most of my body, but the sun felt warm and pleasant and the breeze didn't have a knife edge on it. So, I decided to let Steen graze in the newly sprouted outdoor arena while I groomed him. He seemed glad of the opportunity to gorge himself, and after I brushed roughly 4 cubic feet of hair out of his coat, I put his rope halter on and we did some ground-work. His stall stiffness has definitely left him. He is moving much more comfortably and his ankles are back to their svelte pre-winter circumference.

After the ground-work, I put Steen's bridle on and hopped on bareback. This marked two firsts for me. My first outdoor ride of 2009, and my first bareback outdoor ride on Steen ever.

Unfortunately, my time at the barn was limited today, so my ride consisted of a slow meander around the outdoor arena and little more. Still, it was nice, both to get some sun and fresh air , and to feel like summer isn't just some unrealistic dream that will never come to pass.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sprung

Today I arrived at the barn and did something I hadn't done for a while. Instead of going to Steen's stall, I went out to the mud-lot. There I found Steen, rather dirty but seeming quite at home. As soon as he saw me, he left the hay he was eating and came straight to the gate, even though the mud between the bale and the gate was deep and he clearly wasn't too excited about stepping in it. That was very nice, not only because I didn't have to get my boots dirty but also because it was more than a little gratifying on an emotional level. I thought that my relationship with Steen had improved significantly over the last few months, but it was nice to see it so obviously and immediately manifested.

I took him inside and we easily fell back into our pre-stall routine. Other than some general snortiness at the wind and some initial nervousness about the changes, he calmed down quickly and behaved well. I gave him some grain, which he appreciated, and then had a brief bareback ride followed by a bit of ground-work. I must say, as much as the stall has its conveniences, somehow it was a bit of a relief to be back on the pasture-boarder's side of the barn. Part of it is obviously the weather. It is nice to be at the barn and not be surrounded by bitterly, bitterly cold air the whole time. Also, I know Steen never really liked his stall, so it was nice not to have to put him back in it at the end of the ride. Granted, the mud-lot is a debatable improvement, but it shouldn't be long before the horses are turned out in the acres of green pasture surrounding the barn, and then Steen maybe might not meet me at the gate anymore....

Regardless, I am excited for the longer summer days, and hopefully Steen and I will make progress more rapidly now that he's not stiff from being locked in a stall all day and I'm not worrying about frost-bite the whole ride.

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