I’ve had several new and fun developments on the horse front these past few weeks of radio silence.
- I bought and installed some black nylon cross-ties with quick release hooks. The jury is still out on these guys. I don’t really know why I wanted them so much. Maybe they make my humble little field with a sketchy old barn seem more upscale. Maybe I’m just in love with the way that I can have my horse centered in the aisle and easily maneuver around him for grooming and tacking. In any case, it worked. I feel more posh, but Shiloh is still attempting to sneak ugly faces at me and sadly failing because he can’t turn his head all the way around.
- Since I’ve been playing around with ground poles and our rides are constantly punctuated by the resounding “thwack” of Shiloh overreaching or bumping a pole, I figured he would appreciate some leg protection. After several consecutive days of hair pulling and steam puffing out of my ears, I finally figured out how to properly apply a polo wrap. At least to the front legs. The hind legs seem like completely different animals so far-I shall continue work on those. Any tips would be great. I wasn’t having trouble with getting the right snugness or wrapping around the outside, but the wrap always went to crap when I went back up the leg to fasten the Velcro. No matter how neatly the layers seemed as they climbed from his fetlock back up to his knees, I always ended up with a lumpy mess at the top and the Velcro insisting that it wanted to stick right around the back of his tendon. Which is apparently a big no-no. As simple as this task may seem to most of you professional type folks out there (and I’m truly in awe of you people), I was almost moved to tears when I finally smoothed the Velcro down at the top of his cannon bone and couldn’t feel any lumps in the wrap. I even figured out those cute little V’s on the front of the fetlocks! This is a huge accomplishment for me, and naturally it will probably lead to a shopping spree. It isn’t everyday that you find a new must have item in your horse’s wardrobe. I want some in every color and pattern! Currently I only have a set in maroon, which is luckily his color.
3. As I mentioned before, I’ve finally been making good use of my ground poles. I made them about a year ago and honestly haven’t messed with them until recently. It just seemed like a cool resource to have on hand and they were fairly easy to make. I just took some landscape timbers and painted a white base coat with one 21” red stripe in the very center. I almost went for the whole jumping standard striped and colorful look, but I settled for one stripe. Because I’m lazy, and I only need one stripe to stay centered. If you plan on making some of your own, I advise you to be picky with the timbers you stuff in the truck. Pick through the piles and find the absolute lightest and straightest ones. I have one weirdly heavy one that I hate moving, so basically whatever pattern I do, I place the other poles based on wherever that one is. The grass is dead under that one. (insert ground pole picture!). I like working with the poles because it’s fun and it feels like a vacation from plain old riding around the pasture, riding circles based on poo piles and cones. Also, it’s a huge advantage for me to keep my rhythm with mister daddy-long-legs-gaited-but-not-really. Right when I think he’s completely falling apart and either pacing or making up a new whacked out version of the canter, he comes up to the poles and for a millisecond, he HAS to trot the poles. And it’s such a lovely trot when he finally does. Then I circle him around and do it again, gradually trying to build his trot to a full circle by keeping my posting steady. It’s slow going, but it’s been very rewarding. In addition to the trot work, I’ve started setting one pole about twenty meters away and having him canter over that pole, then trot over the three other poles, then canter again. It works with a figure eight and a change of lead too. This exercise has pointed out my glaring faults in transitions. I find that when I don’t have enough faith that he will do a downward transition (and the patience to let him see it through), I get tense and fall back to relying on the reins. Obviously, this only breeds resistance in Shiloh and he will then brace against me and get tense himself. I’m hoping that as I continue to remind myself to work through my seat and legs before my hands (the elusive and mysterious “half halt”?) then I will be able to get cleaner transitions without me hesitantly pulling back and Shiloh chugging along ahead, ten meters past my desired transition point.
4. I got sick of Shiloh dumping his food. I have no idea what causes this behavior. Is it just because he gets so excited about getting his food? Does he get frustrated that he can’t eat it fast enough? No matter how often I explain to him that little ponies in Africa don’t get nice pans of alfalfa and rice bran mash, it never seems to go through. So I forced his hoof. I bought a rubber mat and bolted the pan down. Now he has to stand on the mat and therefore can’t pick up the pan.
You can almost see the exasperation in his face.