Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far – Burlington, Vermont tied its record high of 93 for today, a record set in 1955.
I generally go more by feel than the thermometer when it comes to heat, and while it was quite warm it didn’t feel oppressively hot – especially at the barn, which is at a higher elevation and gets an excellent breeze because of its hillside exposure. (That same exposure and elevation makes for some unbelievable cold, but so it goes.)
Our first lesson is scheduled for tonight, a 30 minute intro/checkin with the new trainer, so I wanted to take some time and make him more presentable. We started with a bit of cleanup. I clipped his fetlocks, trimmed his ergots and chestnuts, and rediscovered his bridle path. He grows more ergot than any horse I have ever known – no exaggeration, the one on his RF was 1.5″ long – and it’s tough. I keep a hunting knife in my tack trunk for such occasions, and luckily he is quiet and still, because it took some sawing through to get it down.
Here’s before and after.
|Before, bridle path.|
|Before, bridle path. Ugh.|
|Before, front feet.|
|Another before – you can’t see the ergot but trust me, it is there.|
|After! I didn’t do a perfect job – still getting used to new clippers – but wow, so much cleaner.|
|Yesssssss, nice clean bridle path!|
I don’t ever clip muzzle, and generally avoid doing his chin unless it’s really goat-like. I won’t ever clip his ears – it’s not worth putting either of us through and let’s face it, he’ll never be that show horse and I love him that way.
Then I hopped on and rode for about 45 minutes, keeping my work tuned in to how he was feeling rather than following our strict rehab schedule. We did more or less keep to it, though – walk, trot, and a bit of canter, say 2-3 minutes total, around the ring a few times. After our first canter he thought that every leg aid meant more canter – I think he was mostly trying to get out of giving me an engaged, forward trot, and hopping up and down in a pseudo-helpful manner was more fun than using his hind end.
I brought him to the big water tub just outside the barn door during each walk break, and he did take a long drink after our second bit of canter work, and was fairly warm and a little bit puffy at the end of the ride. We cooled out for about 10 minutes without the saddle.
Next up was a long bath and conditioning of his mane and tail, and I was pleasantly surprised – usually the first bath of the season results in two or three shampooings of brown suds, but I have been hosing him off very thoroughly after each ride and he’s been going out on 100% grass. Turns out that he’s way cleaner when he doesn’t have a mud pit to roll in! His white sock was a bit grimy, so I scrubbed that until it really popped, and then we handgrazed for a bit.
All in all, about four hours of spa treatment and riding. Lesson tonight. I am both very excited and very nervous – it’s always a little anxious-making to ride with a new trainer, and this trainer is riding at a higher level than anyone I’ve ever ridden with!
In conclusion: cutest pony ever.