Once upon a time there was a chestnut gelding known as the Batthorse… Said Batthorse lived a happy life. Said Batthorse ate and rolled in the mud, got really dirty, and hung out with his friends, Subi and Jiminy. Said Batthorse lived the retired life. “Life is good,” thought the Batthorse. Said Batthorse lived the retired life, or so he thought.
Then one day, life changed. Life became bad. And THIS is the story of one pissed off chestnut gelding.
So for the first time since the end of December, I decide to try and ride the Batthorse. We were planning to attempt a paper chase this month, but due to illness and weather, that was becoming a more and more unrealistic goal. Unfortunately, a certain chestnut’s poor behavior sort of cemented his fate and this paper chase just isn’t going to happen. Oh well, this is why I don’t make goals people!
Normally bringing Batts back from extensive time off is easy. He may be out of shape, but he generally has a good attitude about it. This time however… Since the ground has been AWFUL (through the area, paper chases, point to points, and a whole lot of other things have been cancelled and postponed) combined with monsoon rains on Friday (and a flooded basement FML), I decided to haul out to my trainers on Sunday for a ride. Generally she’s at shows on weekends anyway and doesn’t teach so weekends are a good time to ride. This weekend was no exception (yay rated shows).
This thing needs a trip through the car wash… But he loaded without
issue which showed he truly had no idea what he was in store for…
So, the place was pretty empty when we arrived and thankfully the big rig was gone and I was able to pull around (u shaped driveway on a corner so I came in on one road and can leave on the other) — which is good for me since backing up isn’t a strength –especially when I’m rusty. Unfortunately, that’s where the good stopped.
Mr. “All I Did On My Winter Vacation Was Eat” sort of, kind of out grew his 52″ double elastic girth though I managed to get it on with some choice words. Seriously though, how does he outgrow a 52″ girth? He’s not that big? And my billets aren’t short? Every year we come out of winter needing a diet. So, grumpy, we headed into the barn, bridle in hand, with a bad attitude. Inside the barn, he was at least curious about his surrounding but got mad that I wouldn’t let him in a stall to eat someone else’s hay. Once our bridle was on, we stopped by Ranger’s stall, dropped off a peppermint (yes, I’m mean, but I did give Batts one too), and headed out to the ring.
OMG. This horse is fat. I mean FAT. I nearly pulled a muscle once I got on. I got used to Ranger who is wide, but not that wide or that fat. But Batts? OUCH.
I got on an immediately thought things were going to be OK. I mean, he didn’t take off with me. But, I did regret not wearing spurs on bringing a crop. We didn’t exactly have our forward button installed. We puttered around at the walk for awhile, me adding leg, while a certain chestnut pinned his ears at the slightest pressure… Eventually I picked up a trot on a loose rein…
…then the head tossing, flinging began… and continued… but we managed a lazy trot around the ring and all was well. We trotted and trotted and trotted. And tossed and flung and tossed and flung and tossed and flung. I added leg and we tossed harder and pinned our ears but failed to actually increase our pace… When I FINALLY managed a slightly forward trot, we walked and watched a buckskin mare avoid capture for a while. Batts found this QUITE entertaining. Don’t get ANY ideas.
Then we trotted again. Then I tried and failed to cantered. “ZOMG NO!” said the Batthorse, tossing his head in anger and frustration, trying to run me into the fence and losing all ability to steer. Suddenly we were a wild-horse. Trotting a million miles a minute and we WOULD NOT CANTER. So we trotted and trotted and trotted as fast as possible. And I got in mean mom mode and introduced circles. So we circled, and trotted, and circled, and trotted, and circled, all while flinging our head in disgust (meanwhile Buckskin Mare was captured). Eventually, Batty decided that cantering was WAY easier than circles and we cantered around in the slowest canter ever before resuming our circles the to the right before canter to the right and finally being rewarded with a walk break.
While we rested, we were joined by a couple of pony kids and the recently captured buckskin mare. Whether he was tired, over it, or just feeding off of the ponytude (honestly, they’re well behaved ponies — 1 was up and showed energy by swapping but that was it… and Bucky, well, she’s a mare), but our behavior… In true Batt fashion, we decided to do things our own way.
Determined to spend the last bit of our ride cantering (after a brief chat with a pony mom), I grabbed a crop that I located (or what was left of it) and attempted some cantering… It was…well, I stayed on? After a tiny bit of trotting, we started to the left and did ok? Despite the constant flinging, seriously, did he suddenly become a headshaker overnight? And one or two minor “bucks*,” it was uneventful. On his best of days he’s more comfortable to the left. On his worst of days he’s 100000x more comfortable to the left.
So, stupid me, I save the right for last. And he was PISSED off. And really did try and “buck*” me off (*this idiot horse barely can buck without a rider on his back–he isn’t coordinated enough and can only lift his hind end about a foot off the ground–with a rider on his back he just drops his head between his knees really really hard and fast and thinks he’s bucking even though his hind end doesn’t do anything*). He actually caught me really off guard despite lifting him up at the canter and sitting up and back. Idiot horse grabbed the bit, yanked his head and dropped it so hard and fast between his knees I actually fell forward a bit. If he had gotten me off… We cantered a bit more for that and then backed down an entire long side simple because I was angry. He doesn’t back well–not that he can’t more that he doesn’t want to. Well, he has never backed so well or easily. We ended there and headed inside for a brief shower (and I may have showered Ranger with some peppermints).
Despite the long recap, our ride wasn’t actually that long. Lots of walking, lots of fighting, lots of pain for both of us. But, definitely no good Friday paper chase. If our attitude was better, I’d get the rides in to make it happen. But, it’s not, so why push it? There’ll be other chases and we’ll get back in shape when we’re back in shape. I’m not going to kill myself to ride every day the next 2 weeks.
But, if anyone’s up for a trail ride soon, we can certainly do that!