Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventures with Blue

Blue and I have been getting reacquainted with our mutual riding goals this weekend.  To be explicit about our joint goals: I will be taking an active role in riding and honing Blue’s skills, and Blue’s goals are to be outside eating as much grass as he can fit through his grazing muzzle and doing his best to ignore anything I ask for. It could be that we are at odds in our specific goals. Although he is better trained than Dusty, he’s not an easy ride.  To begin with, he is out of shape so we can’t do much but walk and trot right now.  Which is fine with me until we become more attuned to each other.  Blue doesn’t know my particular way of asking for specific things just yet.  Even though riding cues are basically the same, I believe everyone has their own way of cueing.  I may use different pressure with my legs or with the reins, my balance may be slightly different; I’m much shorter than my daughter who was Blue’s main rider when she had free time, so we’ll have to become accustomed to one another.

We had a good weekend but, as I said, we didn’t move past basic walking exercises with some trot work and cavelletti.  Blue is very smart, which I find most paints are.  He also has a stubborn streak with some laziness thrown in for good measure. Blue is also an individual who likes to do things his way on his terms; he’s the sort of horse who likes to throw some monkey wrenches in the works for his own amusement. This could mean anything from not steering to curling up when you take a little contact.  One of his favorite tricks is to stretch down as far as he can doing an imitation of a snowplow just to see how far he can go to try and make you hold him up.  This is a game he can’t win with me.  When he pulls this evasion I generally give him enough rein to hang himself and cue him forward.  He’s not a fan of holding himself in this position and so he will pick his head up and trot correctly for a while. He reminds me of how it was to ride my horse Erik; as a youngster he would love to hang his head and travel on the forehand with me holding him up.  We finally moved past that particular quirk as I’m sure Blue and I will.

We started our day with a thorough grooming (and with a very indignant Blue giving me the  “stink eye”-- he couldn’t believe he was working two days in a row, I guess.)  Sunday was an interesting ride since we had a major rainstorm with the rain hammering the metal roof on the indoor.  I’m not sure Blue has ever heard a racket like this—at least, he acted like he never has.  After a few turns around the arena with him calling to his friends (who flat-left him for greener pastures) he got down to work.  Color me surprised when my usually bombproof Blue spooked by an open window for no reason, followed by a bigger spook sideways by the mounting block, with a small buck thrown in for a little excitement.  I’m amazed that I kept my seat.  I suppose there is some muscle memory left over from years of riding Erik, who was the fastest spook in the East and who was startled on a regular basis by almost everything within sight.  Luckily, Blue got over himself quickly.

Dusty continues to improve and her legs look better each day.  We still have a long way to go but hopefully she’ll be okay in a few months.  To her dismay, she’s sporting a grazing muzzle too.

Until next time

Quote for Today
There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle; one is a sense of humor and the other is patience.

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