Monday, March 21, 2011

Tail Envy

When Steen gets any compliment more specific than, "He's so pretty," it is more than likely to be, "Wow, what an amazing tail." It is true, Steen's tail is possibly the fullest, longest, most impressive tail I have ever encountered on a horse, and it is also true that it is more or less wasted on me. I don't show him. Every year I hack off a good twelve inches to keep it from dragging in the mud. I refuse to bag it because I feel horses have their tails for a reason, and plus I like looking at his tail too and I can't do that if it is in a bag.

But I must admit sometimes I fall behind on caring for his long, thick, lustrous tail-locks. The last six months or so I have been particularly neglectful and the last handful of times I've been out there I tried to work through it a section at a time and didn't make much progress. Finally I broke down and bought some Cowboy Magic when Brian and I were at the tack shop looking at saddles, and today my main goal was to brush all the way through Steen's formidable tail.

Steen was a bit lethargic today, and disinclined to bend his neck to the right. I am pretty sure the vaccinations left him stiff and a little sub-par, so it was a good day for me to spend excess time on grooming. I gave him some chopped hay, rolled up my sleeves and set to work. It took a long time, but in the end he was looking much better. The mats and little chunks of mud and leaves clinging to layers so far deep inside his tail that you couldn't see them without digging for them were gone, and I think the recent rainstorm has him looking a bit whiter.

After the grooming, I hopped on for a brief ride. I didn't ask him for much but one thing I have sorely neglected with Steen is transitions. He was so sensitive about the bit and particularly about standing still after stopping when I got him that I really didn't reinforce "whoa" and "stand" like I should have. The result is Steen associates the word "whoa" with the beginning of a rather lethargic transition from whatever speed he's going to a slightly slower one. Since he was feeling low-energy today anyway, I thought stopping a lot would be something we could handle. So we worked on stopping from the walk following by stopping from the trot, and in just half an hour I saw notable improvement. He didn't get upset at all like he used to when corrected for moving on after a stop, so I am hoping that means we've reached a point where I can enforce this without creating loads of anxiety for him.

I returned Steen to the pasture and he stood, looking highly fatigued after our very short ride. But his long beautiful tail flowed behind him in the wind.

While I was taking his halter off, Bear left the bale to say hi to me.

I gave him lots of pets and then he tried to follow me out of the pasture, but I didn't have time to bring him indoors, although I am thinking I might ride Bear tomorrow to gauge where he is at with his trot before Brian tries it again.

Horseback Hours YTD: 5:10

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