Thursday, October 01, 2009

Two Good Rides

Now that Steen is at least healed to the point that I can do consistent light rides, I'm trying to decide what my goals for fall are. The barn is still not done. The welder had to wait for the cement guy and the cement guy had to wait for the carpenter guy and the carpenter guy had a deadline elsewhere, or something like that. Anyway, the indoor arena is filled with lumber for the half of the stalls that aren't yet built. I'm trying not to be bothered by any of this, which would not be all that hard, except the last few times I've been out there, there has been literally nowhere to tie Steen to tack him up.

So, this week I started teaching him to "trunk tie." Don't worry, I'm not actually tying my horse to the trunk of honda civic. I've just been setting the end of his lead rope in my trunk so it hangs down and the excess rests among all his other tack. He seems fine with this and though it is not ideal, one good thing about the construction is its made him way less likely to react to loud noises.

On Tuesday when I examined his leg I found no new drainage whatsoever. This is wonderful news in that it means both that the wound is really making progress healing, and that I no longer need to wash that leg all the time. Woohoo! To celebrate, I tacked him up and we walked up and down the strip by the pasture twice. He was mostly good - a little nervous, a little skeptical about leaving the herd behind. On the steep sections he wanted to trot uphill. But I tried to keep things really mellow. I really want to teach him to relax on the trail.

Yesterday I went out again, and we walked the strip three times. He grew calmer each time, handling the steep hills with more grace and less nerves, and the third time, when we got to the bottom, he showed great curiosity in the little trail that leads north, away from his pasture, through a little strip of wooded land that runs between the edge of a corn-field and the fence-line. I suggested we go down the trail, and he went, showing a good deal of curiosity and paying a lot of attention to where he put his feet, avoiding fallen branches and looking around a lot, but not even getting snorty like he does at almost anything new around the barn. We eventually reached a place where the path got sort of covered in brush and brambles and he started to get nervous, so I just turned him around and pointed him back home, and he walked on back the same way, walking quickly but not nervously. Then, when we returned to the familiar strip, he really settled down, head down, ears bobbing. He walked up the steep hill without any attempt to trot, really engaging his hindquarters. I took him on up back to the car, and he stood calmly by my trunk while I took his tack off.

So, I've got high hopes for the fall. My tentative plan is to try to ride at least three days a week, going mostly on easy, walking rides around the area to both get him back in shape and to continue to broaden his horizons in easy stages. His curiosity is encouraging. When he's not feeling insecure, he seems to have a capacity for wanting to explore, so hopefully I can nurture that inclination.

And for now it is just so glorious to be able to get out and about on horseback again, even if we don't go far.

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