grooming · puppy

Summer Shine

I had a massively long, stressful, and busy day at work yesterday. When it was over, I stood outside my truck and for several long seconds stared at my truck key, wondering how exactly to put it in the lock. I put it in the lock. I turned it right. I pulled on the door handle and then stared, dumbfounded, when it didn’t open. Then I put it back in the lock and turned it left, which is the way you actually unlock a door.

It was around that moment when I first thought about not riding after all. I’d put on my breeches and t-shirt by rote, following the one foot in front of the other mantra that had gotten me through the day. Now that we’ve worked out the puppy schedule, Friday is a barn day for me, and I didn’t want to give that up.

By the time I got to the barn and three people in a row commented on how tired I was, I had officially decided: no riding for me. I’ve learned over the years that when I’m clearly not making good decisions about basic human things, getting on a horse never ends well. I can’t flog my brain to analyze and react appropriately to things under saddle, and often end up frustrated and riding poorly.

I got out my grooming box and clippers and curried, curried, curried. Then I worked for a long time with the shedding blade, then the stiff brush. By the end of it, some of Tristan’s summer shine was coming through: a glint here, a shimmer there. I’m pleased to see it back. Something about the long dull fuzziness of his winter coat contributes to my general malaise over the weather and the season of hibernation. He still feels fuzzy, and is still shedding quite a bit, but for the first time his hair is approaching summer length – across his shoulders, on the top of his back, patches on his neck and flanks.

I got out the clippers and tidied up his bridle path, and debated cleaning his fetlocks. I ultimately decided against because his winter coat is still clinging to his legs, and I didn’t want an awful mishmash of clip/shed going on. A few more weeks and I’ll get there. Then we headed out to handgraze for a while as I used fingers to rough up the winter fuzz along his throatlatch and jaw, mostly white with not much red.

The boyfriend brought Arya by for her second visit to the barn, and she did wonderfully: wanted to explore, chase birds, and was very wary around horses. I’ve introduced a fair number of dogs to Tristan, and he can be counted on to stand quietly and mostly roll his eyes, even when my parents’ dog as a puppy launched herself right at him, planted her front feet on his shoulder, and tried very hard to lap his face.

Arya was mostly very timid, and did a minimum of bouncing & yowling. (We’re pretty sure she’s hound-y: her default is not a bark but more of a yowl, a bell-like voiced howl. It’s ridiculous and adorable.) She got lots of praise when approaching him while quiet, and seemed to take his example and spent a few seconds grazing right alongside him. (Weirdo.) Then I put Tris back in his stall and lured her over with a treat to touch noses with him for a second, and gave them each a treat and called it a day. She bounded over to me when I whistled, even calling off some of the interesting scents around, and in general I was very happy with her!

Sunday: cleaning out the trailer, going through stored supplies, and a hack with friends.

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