Monday, August 31, 2009

Chrissy's Eventful Evening

Oye! Chrissy and I planned to take an early evening trail ride after getting some hay put away that was delivered today. I planned to ride Rain and pony Nina. Chrissy was looking pretty positive and ready to go and I was the weak link, slowing things down. I did not ground work Nina first and I should have. I played with Rain a bit, not much though.

As we started going down my long driveway to make our way to the trail, I realized I had a lot of horse under me! Rain is usually my calm horse, eager to go, but level-headed. Tonight she was full of life and Nina wasn't any better. I was trying to get Rain to ease into the ride and Nina to find her spot as my pony-horse. We were nearly 2/3 of the way up the driveway when I looked back to see where Chrissy was. I had looked back several times, always checking to make sure she's cool, but I'd had a stretch of time - maybe 100 yds, where I didn't look back.

I looked just in time to see the two of them braced against each other and Cowboy's brace escalated into a little crow-hopping. Chrissy rode it for a bit and then tried to dismount. She nearly got off gracefully! But at the last moment she lost her balance and landed with a thud! Honestly, she was so close to just making it look good. Of course, she was a little stirred up then and walked him the 1/4 mile back to the barn.

I of course, still had my hands full with mares and decided to make my way back to the barn while making some changes in my situation. I did circles and figure 8's at the trot and canter, teaching Nina to hold her spot and Rain to partner up. They were both so full of energy and it was probably 5 mins of that before we calmly made our way back.

After some talking, we decided that I should hop on her horse and see what I get. First we worked on suppling as he's become quite bracey. We also worked on maintain gait at the trot. When I felt like he was blowing and calm in the brain, we walked off to hit the trail alone. The sun was going down fast and I knew we couldn't trail ride, but I let him know that leaving wasn't so bad by giving him a grass-eating break when were out a ways. I hopped off and everything.

But then... MOSQUITOS!! OMG - they are so bad this year with all the rain and I'm hating them with all my heart. He was sprayed before we left but I swear the mosquitos think that fly spray is like gravy. I was swatting them off him the best I could but decided we should just get back so Chrissy can hop on him and remember that he's a good boy. I rode him back, hopping off at one point when the mosquitos were so bad he was just shaking around like crazy. I got back on before we were at the barn and then rode him some more, getting him more soft on the bit.

Then, I convinced Chrissy to hop back on him in the round pen. She noticed that he was a lot softer - a good thing for her to see that 20 mins of good timing can change a horse's response to the bit pressure. She played some more with lateral flexion then walked him around playing with direct rein.

But then... a Big Spook! Seriously?? He scooted away and Chrissy bailed off to the side. She hit the round pen rail and landed pretty hard. Wow - what a night. We took care of her, got her some ice and motrin. Checked that nothing was broken and went back out to put horses away for the night.

It was a tiring and frustrating circus of an evening. As we cleaned up and fed and got horses out for the night I realized something that probably played a role. I've been feeding alfalfa at night. I normally feed only grass and will sometimes throw some alfalfa as well if the horses look dull-coated or need an energy boost. However, I wonder if I simply have overdone it the past week or so. There just seemed to be a buzz in the herd.

Sometime during feeding Abby cut her forehead and needed doctoring, too. Are all the horses just on an alfalfa buzz? Did I cause the mayhem by not being careful enough with the amount of alfalfa I've thrown? What a night.

For Chrissy, this is the stuff that will turn her into a horsewoman. For me, I don't know... watch what I feed? And make sure I know what horse(s) I'm headed down the trail with before I even mount? Getting in a hurry often doesn't pay.

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