We hit mid 70s here on Monday & Tuesday, obscenely hot for this time of year, and Tristan had his first day outside without his blanket in many months, and boy, did he make the most of it.
Yesterday, for the first time in 2016, four things lined up: it wasn’t raining (or snowing), it had not done either of those things in the last few days and the footing was good, I got out of work before dark, and the temperature was above 45.
So, we headed up to the outdoor arena for our first outdoor schooling of the season.
My goal for this one was primarily “don’t die.” Tristan tends to be a total ass for our first few rides outside in the season. He’s both excited to be outside and angry to be working so far away from the barn and his stall. There are plenty of distractions.
He feels a little bit like riding a wonky bottle rocket, honestly. All that fizz but no clear focus or direction. And since he’s so rarely like this, I always struggle to manage it in the way that’s best for him.
We ended up walking for the first 15 minutes, until he started to relax, blow out, and hold less tension along his back. Then we picked up a trot with the same goal, gradually adding in circles and diagonals. I picked up the bit, but only enough to feel it and let him know I was here and ready to start to steer.
We picked up a canter for a little bit, which was really more straight up and down than actually workmanlike. Plus, it had that edge of potential bolt at any moment, especially directed toward the barn. But I picked it up and put it down a few times to confirm that I did, in fact, have control of him with my core and my seat and the reins, and then we were done.
I was riding way more defensively than I would have liked, but I got the job done nonetheless.
Tristan was less than pleased with the whole endeavour, of course.
So yeah, that happened. Curry comb + shedding blade + stiff brush for a solid 20 minutes. He was a happy boy. I’ve never known another horse who so enjoys a deep grooming.
Our ride was actually shorter than the grooming session, because 20 minutes of moderate work in 60 degrees when you’re packing that much winter hair is tough. He was warm and a touch sweaty, and panting pretty hard. His wind is still not really recovering – hence why I was thinking about the SmartBreathe. It’s something that may come up with his vet at spring shots.
Other than that, though, sound as a bell and in great shape overall. Bring it on, spring!
Sunday: gorgeous sunny day, blue sky, light breeze. We went for a 2 mile hack up and down the road with a friend who’s conditioning her new horse. I thought about going up and down the hayfield hill for some additional work, but the trainer was showing a sales horse in the outdoor arena and a galloping mustang probably would’ve been more excitement than they really needed.
So I untacked and decided to do a bath. I rinsed, and I shampooed, and I rinsed, and I did conditioner, and I rinsed…and then realized I had been scrubbing and bathing for a solid hour and poor Tristan was shivering a little bit.
I promptly felt like the world’s worst mom: cold well water, a wash stall in the shade outside, a light breeze, and his flanks were quivering on and off. I scraped off all the excess water and brought him out into the sunshine. He stopped shivering and was perfectly happy to handgraze.
I spent the next two hours worrying about my stupid decision, because that’s what I do. When he wasn’t drying off as fast as I wanted in the sunshine – which kept going and coming as clouds passed over – I started layering coolers: irish knit on the bottom with a wool dress sheet/cooler on the top. Then I pulled the irish knit and we went back out into the sun for a while. Then I swapped the wool cooler for his rattier fleece cooler, cinched it around his stomach, threw him all the hay he could eat, and checked in with the trainer’s barn manager.
“Yeah, I thought you were being really brave!” she said. “It’s still pretty cool!”
Sigh. When I finally left, he had a strip down his belly that was still damp, and his legs were still slightly damp. His core had warmed up considerably, chest and sides were once again warm to the touch, and he was happily eating, drinking, and pooping. He’s fine today. HORSES.
In the in-between of everything, I hauled all the various storage things back up the hill to my trailer from where they’d been stored in my truck, in our apartment, in my other car…really a bit of everywhere. It was nice to get the trailer really swept out after the winter, go through all the bins and pull things that needed to be cleaned, discarded, or gone through. It looks great in there – and if I ever have time off and energy, we’re ready to go somewhere exciting!
This is by way of being a to-do list. I have been so overwhelmed these last two weeks – zero down time, zero reflection, and not nearly enough pony time.
I did have a lovely ride on Tuesday night, in which I confirmed again that the Pentosan = fantastic. He’s now finished his loading dose and is on to monthly, which means it’s time for me to turn the screws and see how long & deep the effects really go.
So, to do:
– check on trailer; is it done? will it cost me a mint? good thing I’ve been distracted, otherwise I would worry that the mechanic hasn’t called me in 2 weeks
– clean out truck, ffs
– organize trailer tack boxes
– organize tack room space, ugh
– deep-clean all purpose saddle, in order to use new conditioning lotion the saddle-fitter found for me
– write ALL the blog posts, including my shopping at Everything Equine & the awesome extreme trail class & some blog hop catch up
– look at schedule & see if it matches up with newly-discovered local horse club’s group trail rides
– call farrier; Tristan was re-shod in the front which was NOT the plan and now I am confused and a bit frustrated; poor communication + lack of follow up on my part, or an actual need?
This does not include the other things I have to do, like work on my conference proposal and get a dog license and clean out the fridge and and and.