I walked up to the pasture gate and as soon as Gabe saw me he cantered towards me, bucking and flinging his big body around like a well-trained and agile athlete. I didn't whistle or call to get his attention, he was just there, like that. He got a carrot as a reward (and maybe a bribe) and I slipped his halter over his head. He continued to bop around on the end of the lead rope like a silly, playful yearling.
"Uh oh," I thought, just knowing that this was going to be one of those rodeo rides and I might just end up butt in the dirt. I was prepared for a wild ride should he decide to throw a few of his typical "I'm gonna be a nut job today" antics into the mix. I've been working out and lifting weights, losing weight and feeling stronger and more flexible every day.
I was confident I could ride just about anything he threw at me, confident but cautious. I know the power this horse has and if he decides he wants me off...I'm coming off. End of story.
I started with a 10 minute longe session, just to get the kinks, bucks and wild head tosses out.
He was perfect. Spiraled in and out at the trot beautifully. Walked, trotted and halted on command without me having to resort to getting on his case about obedience.
Hmmm...interesting. I hadn't ridden for about two weeks, so this was atypical behavior for him. Usually, when I let more than a couple of days go by without riding he's a handful. Not bad, just....spirited and full of himself. A horse in love with just being.
I settled into the saddle and sighed deeply. I have made it a habit of sighing deeply when I get on and doing it frequently during our rides - it relaxes me and relaxes him. It's just a good practice and reminds me to stay relaxed and supple.
He waited for the cue to walk on. On a typical mount up I have to remind him at least once to stand still until I give him the go ahead. I squeezed, he responded and moved forward, reaching for the bit, immediately relaxed and swinging in his back, ears flicking forward and then back to me, forward, then back, paying attention, waiting to answer the questions.
The wind was blowing and leaves falling from the trees. A couple of trees creaked in the breeze and a squirrel gave us an earful from his lofty perch.
And the ears kept flicking back to me "What now mom? What's next? Okay, gotcha! Let's do this!"
Not one hop, buck, jump, head toss, faux spook or girly squeal.
I sat amazed at my boy. Amazed and proud and loving every single bit of him.
He was stiff to the left, which is unusual for him. He's usually stiff to the right. He was a lazy and behind my leg, but a few tap tap taps of the whip and he picked it up. Shallow serpentines to work on the bending, circles down the long sides, figure-8s, gait changes, halt to trot, rein back to trot, trot to halt, slight extensions and collections at the walk and trot and some leg yielding.
None of it was perfect, but he was really, really trying to please and do what was asked of him and in my book, that's more than good enough. That's all I ever ask and I never expect more than he can give.
Although he was stiff to the left, we were getting lots of saliva and foam ONLY on the right side of his mouth. I'm not quite sure what that means. Am I holding on the left and following on the right? Obviously, there is something going on there that is encouraging an unevenness in him, and most likely it's me. I will figure it out.
And the ears kept flicking back and forth, back and forth.
I grinned like a fool, proud of my beautiful and wonderful Thoroughbred, loving this horse even more with each and every step he takes.