Saturday, December 21, 2013

Naughty AND Nice

The morning dawned clear, cold and frosty.

The temperature hovered just around freezing, but the sun quickly melted the frost and warmed the ground.

There are only a few small patches of snow left, clinging to the shady cold hollows down by the blackberry bushes bordering the road. I startled three deer who were enjoying the bushes for dinner earlier this week. They turned to look at me with mild annoyance, and then wandered slowly off the driveway and further down the blackberry patch.

Jackson and Flash stand in a patch of sun at the bottom of their pasture in the mornings. They watch Brett push the hay cart, from the goats, to Winston and Mufasa in the clover pasture, to the donkeys, and then over to their oak pasture. When he crosses the bridge over the dry stream bed, they turn and canter up to gate to get their carrots and hay. I can't remember when Jackson has looked so good and moved so well.

The donkeys wait for the sun to crawl down the hill and into their pasture.  We all wait for the sunshine.

After breakfast, Brett fired up his chain saw and we went for a walk through the oak pasture collecting firewood. There were oak and pine branches littering the ground. It took hardly anytime at all to fill the cart with wood. Flash and Jackson barely looked up from their hay while Brett cut the wood into pieces.

Winston watched me set out his tack box, my helmet, and then sit on the bench, in the warm and welcoming sun, and put on my boots. I slid his halter off the end of the tie rail and walked down to the pasture to get him. He was waiting, standing impatiently at the gate. Grooming and tacking him up was uneventful. Brett had Mufasa out as well. The horses periodically looked out towards the road with high headed interest, but were calm and quiet for the most part.

Winston stood while I mounted but the second my fanny settled in the saddle, he went from nice to naughty. I didn't even have my feet in the stirrups yet and he was arching his back. I turned him towards the small arena behind the barn and he said "Ha! You think I'm going in there? Think again, lady." Brett and Mufasa walked calmly past us into the arena. Katy has been working Winston in that arena for the past two weeks so it wasn't fear of a new and different place. It was six year old punk teenager attitude. Have I mentioned before that six is my least favorite age?

I thought about getting off, but I didn't want to encourage his attitude. I kept the reins loose and kept turning him until he figured out that it would be easier to just go in the arena. We marched along at a good clip with Winston looking for a reason to explode and me sitting back on my seat bones and breathing deep for all I was worth; we marched in big circles, in small circles, in circles that spiraled in and then back out; we marched from the center line to the rail in forward leg yield. When he relaxed, finally, we picked up the trot.

We had some very NICE trot work. Katy has done an amazing job with showing Winston how to relax, how to reach for the bit, and how to be sensitive to the slightest bit of pressure from my leg. He was like butter. Coiled butter. He had energy to burn and he wanted to use it. Sand flew from beneath his feet and hit a pipe, making a smatter sound. He spooked. Really Winston? He planted, then hopped sideways, then bolted. I lost my seat somewhere in the jolting change of direction, but I stayed on. Winston came back to me quickly but I could tell he wanted to go. We picked up the trot again, did a few circles with nice bend and cadence, and then I got off. Brett and Mufasa rode out of the arena and closed the gate. I stripped off Winston's tack and picked up the lunge whip. He snorted and cantered off, sliding to a stop in the corner, then digging in and galloping to the other end. He kicked out behind and pawed the air in front. He was full of it.

I think tomorrow I will lunge him before I ride, not after.


  1. "I think tomorrow I will lunge him before I ride, not after. "

    Yeah. Me too I hate that unexploded bomb feeling.

  2. Always a pleasure to read your posts :)

  3. Good news about how well Jackson is doing. And way to go, sticking with Winston...he's getting the message. Glad you guys had a chance to ride. The weather looks so much better.

  4. ah six. the storm before the calm. I remember it. Which is good because I opted to do it all again!

    One exercise I found that really helped Irish get through these moods is to trot a 20 m circle and put in 10 m circles as we go around. Keeping him on the circle kept him in control, the 10m circles made him think and work. Typically I put in the 10 m circles when I felt him start to amp up under me. I found that a few minutes of this both ways and he would settle.

  5. Well this post explains alot. Rogo was soooo challenging all through his six year old year. He was very good before, and is now good again, but man, six was tough. I didn't know this was a typical age thing. Why didn't anyone tell me??? :)
    I love the way you handled it - good job! Teresa's exercise sounds promising too. We're getting some nasty weather so Rogo is sometimes coming out of his stall and straight to work - I'll use your warm up on those days, and maybe a pre-ride lunge too :)
    These are some of my favorite pictures of yours, and you have some beauties so that's saying something.

  6. I wonder what it feels like to have so much energy. You are blessed to have temperatures where you can still get out and work and ride.


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