Tuesday, July 20, 2010

OH, that mareish squeal!

Mares or geldings?

I have always had mares, always loved mares and appreciated their attitude and yes, even sympathized with their hormonal issues. After all, I have the same issues: Attitude, bitchiness and extended hormonal moments that amount to extreme moodiness.

I've always assumed I'll never have anything but mares. When I was looking for another horse after Star died, I was looking for mares. I didn't give geldings a passing glance. The experience I'd had with geldings amounted to horses that were overly compliant, slow and maybe a little on the dumb side. You could ask them to jump off a cliff and they would.

Mares, on the other hand, present a challenge. You ask a mare nicely, sometimes you even have negotiations with a mare. You never tell a mare without repercussions. They resent unfairness and tend to hold grudges. I like that in my horses. I didn't want a horse that was predictable all the time. How boring and mind-numbing is that?

But when I saw Gabe it was over. Gelding or not, he was the one and I knew it instantly. I almost didn't even go look at him because he had the wrong "parts." I'm glad I did. I knew he was different than the other geldings I'd had experience with. He is a gelding with a bit of a stallion attitude. He presents just enough of a challenge to keep me on my toes, but at the same time, he is different than a mare. I pretty much know what to expect from him from day to day. There are no mood swings or bitchiness, there is the occasional teen-like attitude from him, but if you finesse him a bit and point him down the right path, he complies with little grumbling. He's just testing his boundaries I do believe and I don't mind. He isn't the type of gelding I've run into in the past...he isn't the typical "tell a gelding" kind of guy. We have negotiations and discussions but they are reasonable. He just asks that I be fair and I just ask that he put in a good effort and as long as both sides understand the rules, we get along fabulously.

I don't have to wash his tail and back legs every other month due to mare-ish grossness. But I really can do without the sheath cleaning...ewww...stinky!

The more I watch Calypso out in the pasture really being bossy and bitchy to both geldings, the more I don't want to have one in my little herd of boys and the more I understand why so many large barns keep their mares and geldings separated. Mares are shit-disturbers. I've seen her go out of her way to chase Gabe around. We have fairly good-sized pastures and she'll go all the way to the OTHER side of the field just to move Gabe around, not because he's wandered too close, not because he's being obnoxious towards her, but simply because she can. I think that once she is taken out of the herd the two boys will get along fabulously. She's an instigator, she's a hussy with no qualms about playing both sides of the proverbial fence...she's buddy-buddy with Gabe one hour, the next hour, he's getting the stink eye and she's rubbing all over Chief like he's all that and a bag of chips.

I still love mares. I still like their personality and their attitudes and their witchiness...but I think I'm at a time in my life when I need a little less drama in the arena and on the trail, and right now, Gabe is my perfect match.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the trails

A friend came over to ride with me Monday and we ended up logging at least 10 miles on the ponies before 10 a.m.

All three of the beasties got to participate in the trail trek: Me on Gabe, Kayleigh on Chief and my friend Jacquie tooled around on Calypso. I loved having someone to ride with, someone I didn't have to constantly remind to shorten up her reins or pay attention to her surroundings or put her heels down. Love riding with my kid, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it sure is nice to ride with an experienced rider I don't have to worry about.

So, out we went, the horses seemed pleased to be going out together and were quite happy to travel along three abreast. We headed down the road and into the bottoms which is all farmland with roads running between the fields.

Gabe was a little looky loo at ditches and rocks and stumps, oh my! But he was good. He tried to pull his "I'm gonna back up because I don't wanna go forward where YOU want me to go forward" crap a few times and he got a couple of good, smart smacks with the whip and it set him straight.

Chief was excellent, as usual. Just plodded along, head down, ears flopping to the side, lip loose and relaxed. I swear I saw him fall asleep a few times.

Calypso...whoo. That little mare needs a few more miles under her belt. She was a handful for Jacquie, spooking at everything, going with her head high and her strides short and choppy. Guess I need to get my butt in gear and put those miles on her before I try to sell her.

We took advantage of some of the long, flat stretches of dirt road and did some extended trotting and a bit of cantering. Gabe loved it so much he had to toss a few good twisty bucks in there! What fun! I laughed at him in his silliness, got him straightened out and gave him a good wither rub for being such a good, albeit silly, boy.

We crossed two wide, quickly flowing creeks. Gabe had no problem at all getting his feet wet. In fact, he stood in the second one and pawed and pawed and pawed, which I let him do, until I felt those knees starting to buckle. OH NO YOU DON'T! I had a pony who used to drop and roll in every puddle and creek we crossed...I wasn't about to let my big Thoroughbred do the same! Nudge to go forward. No reaction. Nudge, Nudge. Nope. He kept pawing and snorting and sticking his nose in the water to blow bubbles. Ugh.

I had to break out the whip again to get that booger OUT of the water. I mean, seriously, how often does that happen? Usually I'm breaking out the whip to get them to move forward into the water!

At least I know water crossings are not an item on his phobia list. Whew!

By the time we got back home we were all pleasantly tired and sweaty. The horses were excellent, the company fantastic. I'm so ready to do it again soon and it definitely made me realize how very much I miss riding with adults.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Move along, move along now!

Oh, was he ever a good boy. I mean, a really, really good boy. Aside from having developed a serious lazy side, we had an absolutely awesome ride Thursday evening.

What is up with the laziness? I mean really. Gabe...in case no one bothered to tell you, you're a THOROUGHBRED. Which means you're supposed to like to go forward at a faster pace than a drunken snail. Sometimes I feel like I'm riding a dead-sided warmblood or a plod-along drafty. Seriously. Move it! Pick up those feet. When there are hoof drag lines in the dirt behind you...that's you being a great big lazy lug.

I assure you there is absolutely nothing physically wrong with him, he just doesn't feel like doing much. He responds to my requests, he just does it at his own pace!

I very briefly considered strapping on a pair of spurs to deal with this lazy issue, but quickly quashed that idea. Spurs are not to be used for forward, they are for sideways. So, I'm upping my expectations of what he offers as "forward" and I'm going to make that lazy boy work for his meals. He is slow off the leg and want him to be ELECTRIC off the leg, which means I'll be employing the use of my dressage whip a little more often than I do now.

The cornfield was not an issue and the telephone poles barely warranted a second glance. I guess the time I took to really get him to look at them and think about those things stuck. Thank goodness the boy has a brain. He might not have get up and go, but at least he has a brain!

The more we work the canter the more I realize he was regularly worked in draw reins on the track, which isn't a surprise to me at all. I hate, hate, hate draw reins and I hate even more trying to undo the curled neck created by draw reins. It is not an easy nor fun task. But, I have been working on it.

So, onward we go! Goals: Energize the gaits, keep working on the lateral response and get him out and about even more. The more we see and experience, the better he is!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

As the sun rises

The weather here has been absolutely phenomenal for the last couple of days: Down into the 60s at night and a tad bit chilly in the morning. Perfect riding weather!

Wednesday morning the kiddo and I set out bright and early on Chief and Calypso for a nice little trail ride before I had to leave for work. The world is so amazing and fresh and beautiful at 5 a.m. when the sun is just starting to peek up over the horizon and the birds are waking.

Of course, the ride always begins with grooming! She has some trouble reaching his back, but he's patient.

Saddle? We don't need no stinking saddle!

I love the trails we have to ride on. Lovely, especially in the morning. Look! Calypso is listening to me! She was a good girl. Fat and out of shape, but good. Please forgive the mud "beads" in her forelock. She wouldn't let me get them out yet insists on rolling in the biggest mud puddle she can find each and every time. Little pig.

Oooohhh...someone was NOT very happy with me for leaving him behind. If a horse could be jealous, I'm pretty sure he was.