Saturday, May 07, 2011

Early Summer Changes

We arrived at the barn on Friday afternoon eager to meet the new horse on the premises. Or more accurately, the new foal. "Whisper" arrived some time in the night. Cathi was in the pen with the baby and the momma when we arrived, so we even got to go in and pet the little guy. I have never seen a truly brand new foal before, and was surprised at how large and strong he was. And although he was perfectly capable of walking, trotting and even loping around, he was super clumsy while he did this stuff. It was pretty hilarious to watch.We took some photos but didn't catch any of the action.

Whisper's mother came to Cathi through sad circumstances, and so although she wasn't planning to raise a baby any time soon, it does sound like she intends to keep him. He's a very interesting color. Brian and I theorize that he is a perlino dun. He definitely has light skin and a red dorsal stripe. But I know babies can change, so I'll be curious to see what happens.

After oohing and ahing over the baby for a while, we went to fetch our boys. This involved a hike because they are now out on the large 13 acres of rolling hills and grass. They had both clearly been eating as much as they could manage and they were pretty lethargic as we led them in. But then they saw they baby and they both got super curious. Steen loves babies, and whenever there is one out with the herd they get attached to him. But Whisper is still far too young to be meeting any uncles, so they did not get to satisfy their curiosity much.

Out on the strip, Steen was a bit of a pill. With all the new room to roam, the herd was not visible from the strip and at first this seemed to distract Steen. Before long he didn't seem to be looking for them anymore. He was still just a bit of a handful, though, and I got pretty annoyed with him before long. The main thing he was doing was just wanting to trot. Any time I tried to walk anywhere on him, he'd just shift into his jog after a few paces. While he wasn't exactly trying to run off with me, this is still far from acceptable.

So at first our ride went like this: We walk three paces, he'd start to jog, I'd bend him to one side or the other.  I discovered Steen is perfectly capable of turning in an extremely tight circle while still trotting.  So we would trot in tiny, tiny circles until he started to walk. I'd let him go straight again. He'd walk three more paces, then start to jog.  Repeat.

The strangest thing, though, was he was totally willing to stand. His stops were great, his backing was great, and he would just chill in one place as long as I wanted him to, even dozing off in the sun. But the moment I asked for forward movement, he'd jog.

Anyway, eventually he got the point and remained at the walk. I worked on more leg-yielding exercises and (since I was annoyed with him) was actually pretty demanding about these. He was mostly good though, and definitely seems to understand the concept.

Finally I asked him for a trot, and he was fast and distracted and inclined to turn sharply in one direction and let his hind end trail out behind in on the other. So we trotted a lot and much faster than usual and I continued to demand a lot of directional changes and leg yields and although he never fully calmed down, I do feel it was a productive ride. I was bareback but actually felt really comfortable and solid in spite of his antics. My riding jeans developed holes in the upper thigh area after three years of me riding in very little else, so I finally broke down and got a pair of pants that are actually made for riding. I'm quite impressed with how comfortable they were, never shifting or bunching.

After about 50 minutes of riding, I thought Steen was feeling pretty settled, so I asked him for a lope. This was a mistake. He pretty much bolted and when I tried to collect him, barely yielded to the bit and ran straight for the pen holding the baby. There were a number of object between him and said pen, however, (fence, trailer, another fence) and I got him back under control very quickly, but this little experience adds more fuel to my current feeling that what Steen needs more than anything is lots and lots and lots of work at the lope. And what I need more than anything is a saddle to facilitate this... (only a couple more weeks of waiting now)

The tiny lope riled him up, of course, so we returned to walking three steps at a time and spinning in circles. He settled back down fairly quickly though, and after walking him up and down the upper part of the strip a few times, I dismounted. At least I do think I managed to give him a fairly decent workout, but I was pretty tired myself. Lots of fast trots and spins bareback will wear you out fast.

Bear was also distracted and not great for Brian, but they had an equally productive-if-not-quite-enjoyable session. More about that here.

We're going to be out of town for the weekend, so the boys will get a couple days off. Which is probably a good thing as we've been riding a lot. Hopefully everyone will be a bit more settled next week.

Horseback hours YTD: 20:45


  1. Cute little guy. Does he have blue eyes? A "double dilute" (like perlino) will always have blue eyes. He may have the champagne gene, which also results in the lighter color, or be a really light palomino. (I was bored one day, and did a bunch of reading on horse color genetics.)

    Ah, horses and their ability to be easily distracted. Hopefully they'll be less obnoxious when you return. :)

  2. The baby definitely has brown eyes. But his skin is pale. Would the champagne gene lighten the skin? Curious stuff.


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