Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hot and Bothered

With the lull we've had in our riding, I'm trying to maintain a pretty relaxed attitude as both Steen and I get back into the swing of things. Today it was in the 70's, and the ground was mushy and the wind was blowing. I wanted to ride my horse but I didn't want to push either of us.

Steen is not in the best form just  now. His white areas are shedding already (they always start to fall of first, shed for longer and produce approximately a thousand times more hairs than his brown parts) and his coat has that spring-time raggedy look. He's lost weight recently, too. But mostly today he was hot. He was a little sweaty under the blanket when I pulled it off and his entire attitude while I groomed and led him to the strip one was of lethargy. If I didn't know he has always gotten really sluggish in the heat (even back when he was super skittish and reactive), I'd have been worried about him.

He was stiff under saddle, moreso mentally than physically. He just wasn't trying at all for the first half of the ride. It felt like he was going through the motions. I focused on riding with as much quality as I could muster and reminding myself that it is amazing that this gigantic animal lets me climb onto its back at all, much less tell it what do while I'm up there. Every time I stated to get annoyed, I just lifted my eyes to the horizon, took a deep breath and smiled.

And it worked. After a while Steen started to perk up and we got some good trotting in, working a lot on leg yields. Recently I've found I like a slightly faster trot than the default jog he gives me, so we worked on speeding up and slowing down within the gait. His soft feel went from faking it to pretty ok during the course of the ride. I won't say any part of the ride was good, persay, but most of it wasn't bad either.

But the funniest thing was after the ride. Seriously, we rode for 45 minutes, probably equally divided between walking and trotting with possibly as much as 10 minutes of standing. But he was acting as if we'd just completed an endurance race during which I had forced him to exert himself within an inch of his life:

Brian thought it was so funny he took a picture with his phone.

I left the blanket off. I am hoping he will perk up soon. Seasonal transitions are always hard on him, and he's lost a fair bit of weight in the last few weeks. I don't worry about his weight quite like I used to, particularly since I know spring and 13 acres of grass is right around the corner, but I don't like to feel like I'm torturing him just doing a light ride either.

Ride Time: 0:45
Horseback hours YTD: 10:40

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