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.