What a stellar day Sunday was! I got each horse ridden or worked and spent nearly my entire day outside in this unseasonably warm weather. Sunny and nearly 50! The snow was melting, the birds were singing, the sky was blue and the guys with the chainsaws were gone. A perfect day to take myself outside and get those wooly mammoth horses working.
I took Chief out first. While he is my daughter's horse, he needs an occasional tune-up to keep him honest. For the most part he's excellent for her, but sometimes, just sometimes, he gets full of himself and forgets how to turn when asked. I get on for a few sessions, remind him of his job and all is well. He was NOT happy about leaving Calypso and Gabe behind and those two certainly raised enough of a ruckus to remind him what he had left behind. We were out road riding for about 45 minutes, mostly at the walk since he isn't very fit at the moment. We saw dogs, peacocks and cows and a really loud ultralight flew over us. He eyeballed everything but was mostly well-behaved.
Then it was Calypso's turn. I haven't ridden her in a few weeks due to the crappy weather. She is barefoot at the moment and is one of those horses who has extremely sensitive feet so I try not to ride her if the ground is really hard. I'd leave her shod through the winter if I thought she'd be stable walking over the frozen ground and ice while wearing iron. She's not a very balanced, athletic or agile horse and I do think she'd go down if I left her walking on iron through the winter iciness, so, she goes barefoot and I don't ride her much while the ground is frozen.
She was a complete and total turd. I took her out on the road too, but in the opposite direction.
She kept trying to haul ass back home and walked very, very slowly away from the house. We went about 1.5 miles and turned around to come back. Holy moly! Instant energy! She couldn't remember how to walk...jigging with a giraffe neck was the only gait she knew! So we did lots of voltes. Lots and lots of voltes. All the way home. As long as she walked nicely (I'd even accept a fast walk...as long as it was a walk and not a jig, jog or trot) we'd walk straight. The moment she even thought about switching gears...BAM! Volte. Volte. Volte. Halt. Walk. Good girl. All the way home. What should have taken 20 mins. took nearly 45 mins. But, by the time we hit our driveway she was FINALLY walking nicely on a loose rein. So, she needs more regular work. I knew that. She is not one of those horses you can just pop back on after an extended vacation and all is good. She needs a couple of reminding sessions before all is good.
Finally, I worked Gabe. Obviously I'm not ready to take him out road riding yet and with the snow melting my riding area was a bit squishy. I didn't want to ride him in the squishiness, not after the other two were complete nut cases...I knew he'd be an even sillier nut case! So, he got lunged. He is also one of those who needs fairly regular work or he slips back. He played dumb to my voice commands for a few minutes then straightened up and behaved. We worked on voice commands (halt, walk, trot, reverse) and on keeping our circle round. He really likes to drift in towards me tracking right. I also adjusted the circle size from the end of the lunge line down to volte size and back out again to encourage him to stretch, balance, bend and carry himself, which he did.
Then, he decided to have a stupid moment. Down went the head, up went the heels. Buck, snort, kick, twist, leap, squeal. Did I mention the snow was melting and the ground was a bit squishy? Yup. A bit slippery, too. SMACK! Down he went flat onto his side with a grunt. He stayed flat for a microsecond and was back on his feet, staring at me. He had the gall to look at me like it was somehow MY fault he acted like an idiot and ended up on his butt! You know how sometimes you just have to let kids make mistakes so they learn from them? I have the same philosophy about horses. Gabe made a mistake and he realized it instantly. Whether he blames his fall on me or not, he ceased his rough housing and behaved like a perfect gentleman for the rest of our training session. He was even better behaved and listening nicely! He wasn't hurt, physically. I think his pride and ego were a bit dented, but he is fine. If he learned anything from that fall I hope he learned that HE is responsible for where he puts his feet and HE is responsible for making sure all four feet stay on the ground. And most of all, I hope he learned that goofing around like than on the lunge line is NOT acceptable.
It was a good day. I love how very different each of my horses are. Chief is the slow and steady senior with a bit of sass; Calypso is the ADD/ADHD worry wart and Gabriel is the over-confident teenager with "It wasn't MY FAULT!" issues.