I’ve really sucked at blogging. This should just be a blanket statement across all my posts. No apologies, no explanations, just facts.
A couple weeks ago, after we got the new truck, I finally hauled Nay out (of retirement) for his first ride since November-ish. He was shocked. Jiminy was shocked. He had a mild meltdown in the trailer (I need to add a mat to my back door), but he got over himself the second we arrived at the barn. Honestly? For a horse that has done NOTHING all winter, he was pretty great to groom and tack up.
I had low expectations. The plan was groom, toss his saddle on, then toss him on the line to see what I had. The bulk of my work was intended to be on the line. If it went well, MAYBE I’d jump on. If it didn’t, there was always another day.
And he was honestly a gentleman. I can’t explain it. He was relaxed, happy, and just good. He seemed to like having a job, but did express very clearly that MY MAIN JOB should continue to be a human stack dispenser. Noted Nay, Noted.
My actual ride was pretty uneventful. He was tired from the work on the line. And he felt a bit like steering a bus. But we walked around, trotted a bit, made sure our buttons sort of kind of worked, and called it a day.
The next day I can’t remember? Easter? He got the holiday off. Then I worked him at home in the round pen. We free lunged on a super hot day (lunging was a near death experience — for me) and actually ended up having some fun with different cues. And Nay had his first bath and first toss himself on the ground post bath of the year… (missing bell boot still not located)
Then I came down with the world’s worst 4-day migraine and he had a weekend off. Plus the week. Which brings us to this past weekend.
I planned to try and ride during the week. It didn’t happen. I was sure I’d ride Friday. I decided to binge The Diplomat instead. Motivation was lacking. Bringing a horse back into work is hard.
So Saturday morning I hitched up the trailer and decided to get this done. The weather was nice and sunny. The wind and storms hadn’t started so all was good. I drove the mile to the barn, pulled Nay out of the trailer (no loading issues this time) and BAM. Wind gusts took over. It was like living in a wind tunnel.
Nonetheless, we pushed forward with the same plan as our last ride. We groomed, tossed on a saddle, boots (missing bell boot has since been found), and headed to the ring. All the jump standards were down. But whatever. I decided to lunge by the road as it’s the scary end. Nay isn’t actually spooky, but there was a tractor parked near that end and the remains a of a burn pile smoldering so I figured it was a good place. There was one lunge whip but I grabbed a dressage whip instead (I have 2 in my trailer, but…lazy). As I’m getting ready, someone else walks in to lunge and immediately grabs the whip (I figured I’d be sharing) and it was in the prime lunge spot… So we start lunging and other than giving the fire remnants the evil eye, he’s fine. Anti going left (it’s always something), but we fixed it. And all was going well…
…And then another horse joins to lunge (and swaps with the other one in the ring). I think I’m finished as a buggy trots by. Buggies are Nay’s kryptonite. He gets very distracted/bothered by them, but doesn’t spook. If he’s working, I can usually channel him into work, but we had just stopped. He was fine. And then as we walked to the center of the ring, he unraveled. The new horse lunging was a touch exuberant. So we were reactive to that. And joined by a 4th horse. And Nay decided that it was too much to handle. He decides to do his best impression of a stereotypical Arabian. Tail in the air. Snorting. Stomping. Snorting. Complete embarrassment. I pretty much wanted out of the ring. But, you can’t leave on the note of horse being an idiot (as he tries to bolt with me while I’m holding the line.
So, I decide if he has that much energy, we’re lunging again. I mean, I’m not getting on. I tell him to walk forward and in response, he rears. Lovely. Straight up, but no danger of flipping. Just an f-you type of rear. I had dropped my whip so I just tapped him with the rope, growled “get up” and sort of surprised him into walked forward. He thought about being a turd (this is when I realized he stopped being scared and was just working on scaring me) but a slight swing of the line and he was walked forward. And we lunged for maybe 5-6 minutes and he did… absolutely nothing. No buck, not bolt. He changed direction every time asked. Trotted, cantered, halted, went forward (with pace when I yelled “get up” because lazy was his MO when we started). And that was that.
And those riding told me to just get on, they could bail if he was stupid. But he was fine. One horse flew backwards when his rider hopped off for some reason so we jumped a bit (he was fine), but 5 minutes later when a huge gust of wind blew a chair across the arena? He didn’t even move an ear. Yeah. I know. It appears flying furniture is completely normal. (this was a call for everyone else to leave. It was a sign that my horse was quiet) We also cantered for the first time which was a slight disaster. Mostly in that I couldn’t keep my horse moving. Crop or spurs needed and Nay concluded my leg was a joke.
Sunday we were back at it. Cooler temps and wind still going, but less crazy. More lunging but on the other side. While it’s the side everyone likes (close to the in gate), the footing is deeper and Nay hates the deep corners. Tough. He was spicier this day on the line. Just wanted to canter, but did trot when asked. Both sides were equally spicy.
When I got on, he was again fine, but definitely spicy. I had to work for pace as he was looking for trouble. I just worked through poles randomly set throughout the arena and changed direction constantly. It seemed to work well with his brain. We had one spook/startle (there was a lot of activity going on around the arena), but I was able to leg forward through it vs stop and panic. The only unraveling was the canter. I was definitely sitting on a cannon. I had a crop and was able to keep going, but I did think I was going to be launched if he got his head down. The left was ok, but but the first time to the right? Hahaha. Pogo stick. The second time, I added more left, lots of tug tug with my inside hand and inside heel, and it actually resembled a canter. I could only keep it for a full circle around half the ring (it was hard) and Nay squealed about 7-8 times, but we did it.
And on this note, it appears boot camp has begun. We’re taking our first lesson this week and then we’ll be back, chugging away on our won.