Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cheating

It always seems that when one is shopping for a horse, one either stumbles across the right one a little sooner or a little later than is really ideal. Sham came a bit early, since Brian has been working towards racing the Birkie for nine months. His race is a week from Saturday, and he's trying his best to stay in peak condition. Since he also has a job, this means most days he has the option to either ski or go to the barn. For now, he sort of has to ski.

But, new horses require attention, so yesterday found me out at the barn to meet Duke, so Sham could get a pedicure. He has good feet, and they weren't in bad shape, but his toes were a bit long, which was making him rock back on heels a little, which was causing the heels to wear a bit fast. It only took Duke about ten minutes to fix the problem. Then he left and there I was at the barn with Brian's new horse. Since the more I can understand Sham, the better I can help Brian get used to him, it seemed only logical to take the opportunity to ride.

Sham was pretty good. Obviously, he's still adjusting. Just as obviously, he needs his teeth done a bit more dramatically than he needed his feet done. When Sham is bridled, he always wants to rub at one particular part of his jaw - a pretty good indication he's got a point there. Also, he's clearly used to being climbed on and told to go, so tends to get a bit excited with mounted. Yesterday we worked on relaxing.

For the first ten minutes of the ride, Sham wanted to trot. He astonished me with how he manages to be both very large and very graceful. He's really been trained to engage his hind-quarters, so the effect is he can change direction very quickly with no real effort. Add this to his extra height (he's 15.3 with extremely low withers, so in effect he's even taller to sit on) and the fact that he's a pro at balancing with a rider in a way Steen is still not, and it was an interesting ride for me.

After we rode around for a while and I let him trot for a time, he was more willing to calm down. Another ten minutes later, he was very relaxed, walking on a loose rein and responding to neck and leg cues, standing when stopped and everything. Of course, the better he was, the less I had to use the bit and the more positive the ride became. Afterwards, he was a doll in the tie-stall.

So, I continue to be hopeful about this guy. Each time we get him out, he shows more glimmers of interest and engagement. We want to let him get a little more settled before we put him through the trauma of floating his teeth, but once that problem is taken care of, I think we'll be all set. With his height and athleticism, the ease with which he carries a rider and his generally relaxed personality - I am increasingly convinced he's going to be an awesome match for Brian.

That said, I am already looking forward to getting past these early humps and launching the two of them onto their own trajectory so I can return my focus to my own horse. Steen watched me take Sham from the pasture and put him back later - making me feel just a tad guilty.

Sham after a roll

2 comments:

  1. And now you begin to see why I can't ever "ride just one" when I go out to the barn. :)

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  2. Ha. Yeah. Except I really don't think I could handle them both at once and I rarely have time to work with two horses on any given day, so it's going to be one or the other for me, until Sham and Brian get comfortable enough not to need my intervention anymore.

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