Ack! I feel sort of like I’m on the spin cycle lately, with lots to do and trying to keep organized. But finally, FINALLY! I got out to the Fat Horse Acres again this weekend to spend some time with the horses out there.
First we had a little mini horse show – some very nice people from VA came up to look at some horses, so I hopped on a whole bunch of them, and proceeded to show off exactly how weak my leg has become since my last lessons over the summer.
Bid was first – and he surprised me a little bit by being a little goofy. Of course, he hasn’t done anything in three months, so I wasn’t totally blindsided, but he spent a little more time than normal tossing his head around and pretending to spook at things. I think he would also benefit from some horseshoes, but then again with him acting a little silly it can be hard to tell. In any case it was super fun playing with him – the personality just kills me. And when we went to get him from the field in the first place, he, Mikey, and Truckee all came running. They’re so ridiculous it’s hard to put it into words!
Then I took Admiral around a little bit, just figuring he might be a decent fit for what they were looking for. I’ve never been on him before so wasn’t sure what to expect. He actually started out a little grumpy or cold – backed, but once I got him walking he was fine. He was very quiet while riding him around (and there were some barn improvement projects going on, among other things, while we were riding, as the ring was off limits temporarily). He’s a much nicer mover than you’d think and has a great rythmic trot, and a very comfy canter!
Next up was Cecil – and he was foot perfect. He won’t take much time at all before he is someone’s awesome partner – it was only his second ride off the track, and not only was he the best behaved of the bunch, he felt the soundest – this from the ten year old with the twice-bowed leg! He’s is quite a tough and solid horse, and he is so sincerely happy to DO things that it makes me grin. He’s still a little bit of a stinker on the ground, but boy does he want a job. I can see why he was so successful at the races – he just likes to work!
Lastly I hopped on Archie, who came from Delaware and was up at Jess’s barn for a while. He is quite a heart-stealer, I think. I had never seen him go or been on him, and I knew he was a little footsore so I took it easy. But we had a nice little ride on the grass and he didn’t blink at anything. He has such a great calm demeanor and was just a dollface 🙂
Once our visitors had gone I decided it was as good a time as any to get on Leo for his first ride. Leo is three, and has been with us since the summer. He doesn’t have the best conformation (OK, he’s sort of a conformational nightmare, to be honest. There’s no way around it no matter how much I try to use positive words!), but I’m in love with his attitude and personality. He also seems like a very kind horse, so I didn’t anticipate any problems.
What I didn’t really think about was that the ring was being used for turnout. But I’m not one to let those things stop me.
After an initial spook at the saddlepad, he let me tack him up very quietly (a feat not only because he’s three and it was windy, but because I was not sure there was any way to comfortably fit a saddle to his back. Surprisingly, adding a thinline half pad was all I really needed). Then I introduced him to the mounting block, which is often a big deal to these guys. But after I let him nose it a bit, he just stood there like he’d seen them a million times. He got worried for about a second when I stepped up onto it, but settled when I pet him. He also stood perfectly still when I got on, which is a really big deal for these guys.
And then we were off! Because there was no ring I decided to take him on a sort of trail ride by following the farm driveway down to the corner. He was pretty eager and had no issues going forward into unknown territory. The neighbor’s dogs barked at him quite a bit and he didn’t mind that either. I asked him to trot and he went right up into a nice big trot for most of the length of the driveway. He did stop and look at a few odd sections of fence, but if you give him a second to breathe and process, then ask him to go again, he does.
He did also have a few three year old moments, when he realized he was very far away from his friends and got a little worried. Again, I didn’t push it or get mad, but gave him a few seconds, then asked again to move forward. He hesitated a little, and I actually expected he might try to hop or spin the way Rosey and Klondike used to, but he thought about it and then did what I asked. He got lots of pats and scratches for that. 🙂
We turned back to the farm after he had gotten through his second balk and walked forward a good distance. I asked him to trot again, and he did get a little fast. Instead of fighting I got up off his back, bridged the reins, and then held the bridge against the top of his neck and relaxed, which seemed to relax him too, and we had a very nice trot about halfway back, where I stopped him and asked him to walk the rest of the way.
That didn’t feel like enough, so we then walked through the farm, past some machinery and trucks, and up the hill behind the farm a little bit. He was fine there too, so I called it a day. He’s going to be a very, very good boy 🙂 He seems to have good steering and brakes, and also seems perfectly comfortable with contact. We rode both with some contact and on the buckle, and he seems to go either way with equal happiness.
So with his first ride under his belt, I guess he will be available to the public soon, which almost makes me sad, because he’s special and I kinda can’t help wanting to hug him all the time.
I wish I could clone myself so I could spend more time out there with these guys. 🙂