Pony Snuggles

Busy, busy, busy Saturday!

I actually had yesterday “off”…also known as, I woke up at my normal time, took one look out my window, squeaked in panic and fumbled with my phone to call out of work. I felt immensely guilty, as I HATE doing that to my fabulous coworkers, but I am a self-diagnosed snow wuss. 
I had to help my younger sister move this morning, so I spent most of yesterday doing chores that I would have otherwise ignored. I also moved about sixteen tons of snow off of my car. Okay, it probably wasn’t exactly sixteen tons, but my back is telling me that it sure as hell FELT like sixteen tons!
I headed north early to baby wrangle for said sister — my nephew just turned one year old, and he is an adorable little critter that is going to drive my sister insane. I’m a terrible big sister — I am highly amused by her frustrations with her stubborn, opinionated little man. My sister was a stubborn, opinionated little girl, so this is payback for a childhood of fistfights and screaming matches. Thankfully, we’re both grown ups (or at least pretending to be grown ups) now, and we work well together. So, I got to run around after the pipsqueak and entertain him while she and a friend trucked her stuff from one town to another.
I escaped — I mean, uh, left! — in the early afternoon and hustled to the barn. Now, Friday’s snowstorm dumped another 12-18″ inches of the nasty white stuff on us. It was the heavy, wet type, that probably would have been closer to three feet had it not been compacted down so much. It was also on the warmer side today, which made mud. A lot of mud. I sloshed into the barn driveway and winced…hopefully I’d be able to get back out!
I went and fetched Image, who peered at me from the other side of the run in. He’s learned by now that I always come out to get him with cookies, so he usually shuffles over to inspect what I’ve brought him. It took him a few extra seconds, and watching the other two geldings in the paddock gets scratches and a cookie each, for him to meander my way. Once he did get to me and he accepted the treat I offered him, he stuffed his face into the halter and looked at me expectantly: “Okay. What now?” Damn it, horse, stop being adorable!
I gave him a quick once over with a brush and a hoof pick, but didn’t go nuts. Shedding season is officially in full swing and I could have been there for hours currying him and getting out loose hair. I can’t wait for this time of year to be done…I don’t exactly like horse hair being in my diet!
I planned to ground drive again, so I gathered up my needed supplies, changed him into his rope halter, and trudged out to the ring, critter in tow. I had to laugh when we entered the ring. The snow was deeper in some places, and almost non-existent in others. However, where I was standing, trying to reorganize myself and put down the ground driving tack I wasn’t ready for? Yeah, it was nearly at the top of my tall boots. Dear Mother Nature: WE’RE ALL DONE NOW. ‘Kay thanks, bye!
I moved out to a slightly less deep part of the ring, and we worked on the same things from last week: slow and steady, walk when I say walk, and relaaaax. This week was a much bigger success than last week. I’d had a bit of trouble trying to find an effective way of communicating what I wanted from him last week, but figured out that pulling him in closer so his circle was smaller if he ignored my requests to slow down got my point across. When he dropped down to a walk, I let him widen his circle (easier to maintain = less work = reward). Soon enough, he was doing a lovely, quiet walk around me. With this horse, once he GETS what you want, he has no problem giving it to you. Fortunately, he’s smart (probably smarter than I am, to be honest) and once I figure out how best to ask him, it doesn’t take much for him to get the point. We worked on both sides, before I let him rest. Just walking was a bit of a chore in this snow, so a rest was deserved and appreciated. I rubbed his forehead for a little bit, and he about fell asleep, his entire face looking relaxed and happy. Again, I say: quit being adorable, immediately!
Ear scratchies are good too!
After some work on flexing and dropping his head (flexing: B. Dropping his head: A-. He’s getting there!), I put his bridle on. I switched his bit to a Myler D-ring snaffle today, because the mouthpiece is just a touch thinner. He seemed fussy with both my nondescript double jointed loose ring, and my Herm Sprenger KK Ultra D-ring, which are both on the thicker end of things. I was hoping to find something he was a little less displeased with. He has never, ever refused to take the bridle — if anything, he reaches for the bit, which is interesting (more on that later) — but has not been at all pleased with having one in his mouth. I know his teeth have been well maintained over the years, but I’m beginning to wonder if he’s got something going on in there that’s interfering with how comfortable the bit is in his mouth. Fortunately, the entire slew of horse medical professionals will be coming out the end of April. For now, I’ll keep him in the Myler, which he seemed to like much better than my other two bits, and keep an eye on it. 
Once the bridle and surcingle were in place, I spent a few minutes flexing him in the bridle. He is much softer in the mouth than GP ever was. It only took two repetitions on each side before he was giving me a nice, soft bend with little to no resistance. I rubbed his forehead for a minute or two (and put him to sleep again), and hooked up the lines.
He really made me proud (again!) this week. He marched out on the end of the lines like he’d been doing it forever. For all I know, he DID do it forever at one point, but the confusion I saw last week makes me think otherwise. He walked off with a simple cluck, stopped when I said whoa, and backed relatively well. He is a little antsy about any pressure on his mouth at all, which is why it intrigues me so much that he takes the bit so readily. I think a lot of his issues stem from the bit. It’s my belief that someone has really hauled on his mouth, and he’s not the type to need anything more than a touch of the reins. Asking him to back up was an interesting experience. I could tell he was displeased with the pressure on the bit, even though it was light and even on both sides. He resisted me briefly, throwing his head up and dancing a bit to the side. When the pressure didn’t give, he rocked himself back onto his haunches. I released then, because it was enough of a try for me to get my point across. I let him stand and process before taking up the reins again. This time, he took a step back. I let him stand for a minute, before walking him forward. It didn’t take much more than that to have him backing up a few steps at a time with less and less pressure. 
Bestest pony ever. 🙂
I pulled the lines off of him shortly thereafter, and spent ten minutes standing next to him on the mounting block. It was mostly for me, to be honest, as this is usually when I’d park my butt in a chair and let him graze if it were summer. So, I went for a “mom wants to snuggle you so lets make it into a teachable moment” type deal. I talked and sang, rubbed his neck, stood next to his barrel and patted his off side, and leaned over his back. He stood there, listening to my voice, and allowed me to rub on him without an issue. It was kind of nice to be at his height, to be honest. I moved to his head after I was done being a pest, and he was more than happy to receive ear rubs. 
I called it a day there, and brought him back inside. M was due to show up shortly, as we were going to cause trouble at a local restaurant  Image begged a few freebie cookies off of me before doing some cookie stretches. M arrived, and we talked while I continued to love on my mush of a horse. He has turned into such a lovebug lately. You rub his forehead, and you’ve got a new best friend. Rub his ears, and he’ll never leave your side. Rub the inside of his nostrils — yes, you read the right — and he basically dies of happiness. I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to rub the inside of his nostrils today, but it had both M and I giggling like fools. He was on the more standoffish side when I first brought him home, but he is slowly coming out of his shell. He melts my heart every time he puts his face into my chest (politely, mind you!) and asks for ear rubs. He searches for contact with me, and reaches out towards me when I ask him to stop on the end of the line, because he knows he’s going to get forehead rubs. I am a physically affectionate person myself, so I am thrilled with this trait of his. I keep myself very much in check around most people so I don’t offend anyone, but animals? Yeah, they’re in trouble. Luckily for me, it seems like my horse looks for that physical contact just as much as I do. 
It’s hard to believe he’s only been mine for just over a month. I feel like he’s owned a piece of my heart for so much longer than just a few months. I’ve spent much of the past two months reading, researching, and asking questions to more knowledgable friends to bring as much to the proverbial table as I could, so we can continue working on becoming a team. I celebrate each and every little step in the right direction, because it means that we are progressing, even if it’s just a tiny little bit. 
I can’t wait for tomorrow. More pony time for me 🙂
Before I turn in for the night, I want to show off what M got me as a gift:
I have the best friends ever! 😉
Oh, and by the way? I got out of the barn driveway unscathed. My breeches, on the other hand, fell victim to an accidental mud splashing via horse…which I didn’t find until AFTER M and I were done at the restaurant…siiiigh.

One thought on “Pony Snuggles

  1. Madeline C. March 11, 2013 / 1:33 am

    What a good pony! A++++ And the mud adds character my friend. Love the bumper sticker!


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