Monday, February 1, 2010

In the saddle again!

Oh, absolute wonderful bliss! I FINALLY got to ride Sunday. After nearly two months of no riding I was eager to be in the saddle again.

A bit trepidatious? You betcha. Gabe and I were a tad rusty after taking such an extended vacation, but it all went well.

Well, most of it went well! It was well above freezing, warm enough that I was plenty comfortable in just a thermal under a flannel, and warm enough that the thinnest top later of mud had melted into slime in some areas. Of course Gabe had a case of the goofy sillies and was really good on the longe (What? You think I'm craziest enough to climb aboard without longing first? Not!) for about three minutes. Then, it started. He'd trot nicely, fling the head around and squeal and BAM! buck-a-thon!

You know what happened. I'll bet you can guess.

He went down. Buck...buck...squeal...head toss...buck...buck...zoom around with the tail straight in the air and BAM! He hit a slimy spot and there go his feet right out from under him. That huge gray horse smacked flat onto his side with an enormous grunt. He got up, gave me a quick, embarrassed look as if to say "What? You didn't see that!" and took off trotting again but quite a bit more subdued in his behavior.

He is fine. No harm done to his body, but I'll bet he knocked a little bit of sense into himself.

Oh. My saddle. My poor, filthy, mud-covered saddle. The whole side of Gabe (which I spent a good amount of time cleaning before I tacked up!) was covered in gooey, muddy slime.

I finally climbed up and he was most excellent. We did have a few head-tossing, crow-hopping moments, but nothing major. The head-tossing has me confuzzled. I'm 100% sure it's not pain-related. I'm pretty darn sure it's exuberance-related because when he tosses it, he flings it in a circle, squeals and hops a little bit. If you've ever seen a horse out in the pasture just full of himself flinging his head around with the tail up and body bowed to bounce, that's what Gabe is doing. I don't want to punish him for loving life and feeling good, but I also can't have him just randomly tossing his head and crow-hopping around. I popped one rein the next time he threw in a good fling and felt really, really bad about it. He was shocked, but he didn't fling again.

I'd rather not have to pop him when he does it, so any suggestions to discourage this particular display of exuberance are welcome! I've tried a running martingale so he could punish himself when he flung the head, but the pressure on both reins from hitting the martingale made him feel trapped and he panicked. That was non-constructive. So, no running martingales...and definitely no standing martingales!

Robert and Kayleigh joined me on Chief and Calypso. Calypso's mane and tail are now mud-bead free, I'm happy to report! My husband spent a good hour working on both and he did a darn good job. I went ahead and put her tail up in a mud knot, hoping to prevent that mess from happening again. She's in season, so the tail was pretty nasty on top of very muddy. Ugh. We went for a ride down the driveway, around one of our fields, down the road and through the neighbor's pastures. The horses were SO good, especially considering how long they've not been ridden. They were definitely energized and happy to be out, but so well-behaved.

My soul is happy and content today.


  1. Sounds like a great day - except for the double clean-up for you! :)

  2. Hoo Boy, can I relate to the crow hopping happiness!! Leg man does it on occasion. I find that the best thing to do is just apply a little leg and push him through it. Sounds a bit counter-productive, but think about it - crow hopping is an up and down motion, not forward. Moving forward is the key! Works for us anyway - he gets over it pretty quickly.

  3. hey...if popping him works, use it. Exuberance is cute for only so long and then is dangerous. He's a lovely animal...

  4. Congrats on riding! YAY!

    I think I'd ignore the head-slinging til it crossed the line. He's just being exuberant now, but if it carries on to the point where he's slinging his head around to ignore your aids, then just set your hands and let him pop himself in the mouth.

  5. Ahhh, this gives me hope. For me the first sign of spring is bloggers writing about riding. I'm glad you got your fix.

  6. Sounds so good Jenn!
    Glad he did not get hurt having the fun...when I lunged Wa with her new cooler in Dec...buck-o-rama city!

    What work it is huh, cleaning them up..more for you as I think you don't blanket. The blanket is my friend!
    Well,PG mentioned foreword...but you knew that. I don't think the pop is bad..maybe a loud growl and small circle? Bore him with the details.

    Thanks for your comment too, at my place!

  7. Oh, I'm so happy for you and Gabe!! I know how good I feel after a long absence from riding. I just have to laugh at Gabe's theatrics! He's such a big goof...reminds me so much of Ladde! I'd not worry overly much about the head stuff...just feeling his oats, however, if it becomes more than just worrisome...I agree with the forward encouragement and don't make too big of a fuss. I also agree with Kacy...a vocal reprimand does more good than a lot of other things. Have fun my friend!!!