I had no idea what to expect from this weekend. Coming into it with a bum foot of my own, and Nash now barefoot, it looked like just another twist of fate – another weekend with no riding, and no progress. How wrong I was! Fate was kind, for a change, and we had a lovely weekend!
The weather this weekend was a complete contrast to last weekend. A week ago we were soaking through two raincoats per day, just to get the chores done. One week made the difference of nearly twenty degrees, and brought sunshine to spare. From a water perspective, I was disappointed – it’s looking like another year of drought. But from a “horse activity” perspective, it was perfect!
Admittedly, the weekend had a questionable beginning. Aside from the swollen foot (the cause of which remains a mystery), the holding tank for our well pump decided to give up the ghost. So, a day without water and a large bill to pay did not seem to set the stage for an enjoyable weekend! But the unseasonably warm and sunny days were infectious, and we soon found ourselves outdoors enjoying the company of horses.
My plan was to take it easy on the foot. The swelling wasn’t subsiding, and I still have doctors to see. How would it sound if I reported that I was running around after horses all weekend? So, I was good … for a little while. My mother lunged the two appys on Saturday. There was no point in her not riding, just because I was on the injured list, so she climbed up on Coffee on Saturday. We’re still teaching him to move out under a rider, and to go forward from leg (apparently leg means “whoa” in some Western riding schools), so we stuck to her riding on the lunge. It’s been a few months since she last sat on him, so there was some nervousness – but all was well by the end of the session. They had three total rides together this weekend, each an improvement over the one before.
After resting my foot, following lungeing my mom on Coffee, I saw no reason not to try a little lungeing with Tally. So glad I did! As
soon as we walked out of the barn, she was on alert … yet relaxed (if that’s possible). It took a moment before I remembered that a very large box was sitting on the far side of the barnyard (packaging, from the new tank, that will soon become weed block). Okay, I said, let’s go see it. She was soft and easy all the way up to it – head high, softly snorting, but no obvious tension. Once there, she carefully sniffed it all over … then casually dropped her head for some grass. This was my highly reactive, explosive girl! So proud of her!
Once in the arena, she noticed a new barrier (added to keep Noble from pushing through a weak spot in the fence) with a line of traffic cones in front. Again, on alert but soft, we went and inspected this new configuration. She then turned to me, waiting for her carrot, and we were ready to work. Not wanting to do too much traveling on my foot, I kept it to a simple circle. It’s been several days since I worked her, with the weather we’ve had – but she was quiet as could be. So, I took a chance and asked for canter – calm as you please! In fact, we did several canter transitions. Sometimes she was so quiet that she broke into a trot. Bless the trust and forgiveness of this mare! She no longer bears any resemblance to the mess that came home from the trainer! It has taken a while, and many would find the progress unremarkable – but to me the transformation is magic!
By Sunday, I threw caution to the wind (with regard to the foot) and climbed up on Nash. His hoof boots are a bit large (new ones coming soon), so walk seems advisable. But just the feeling of “power steering” and mobility he has was enough to remind me of what it’s all about. Horse memories are amazing! So much time has passed, since he was in serious work, yet he remembers it all. The slightest shift of my weight can completely change his bend, direction, angle, etc. A simple twist of the seat is enough to get a pirouette! Anyone who thinks that walk work is boring does not have a finely tuned horse to ride. I was dancing with my old partner again!
Today, being President’s Day in the U.S., was an opportunity to extend the enjoyment. The order of the day was “fun with poles”. The two boys, being Appys, thought they’d try their hooves at sneaking around the poles whenever possible – any imperfection in my aim was sufficient excuse. By the time we mounted our respective boys, they’d worked up a sweat trying not to work … typical Appaloosa! But they were both gems under saddle.
Tally was the star today, sailing through the poles in perfect form and striding. She was so perfect with the poles, that we actually moved on to the one small fence I set up. Here is where she challenged my steering, not being sure she really wanted to make the small hop the little fence required. Admittedly, I’m a bit rusty lungeing horses over jumps – and I’m not at my most agile with one foot bandaged up. But I persisted, and she put in a couple of easy efforts as the sun went down. A beautiful way to end a lovely weekend!
The foot is no worse for the wear. Of course, it’s no better either – but whose to say it would have been if I just sat around all weekend? This way I am a happier me, and isn’t a positive attitude important for healing? Tomorrow it is back to the work-a-day world. But, the weather is expected to hold, and the sun is setting later … so maybe I can get in some more “happy” time this week!
Be good to your horses!