Henry is the biggest, sweetest teddy bear of a horse on the face of the planet. He is squishable and kissable in every way possible. He wants nothing more than to wiggle his top lip all over your face and play with your ponytail. He is 17.3 hands of puppy dog. There is nothing like having a big ole’ draft head smushed against the length of your body while you rub ears that are as long as your forearm!
I do adore this big marshmallow of a horse. My back and hips, on the other hand, do not. He is WIDE. Beer keg wide. I can’t use my pretty Bob Marshall saddle (also another post that needs to be written…some day, I’ll get my act together!) on him because there’s no twist to a treeless saddle, and that doesn’t help the wide issue at all! He does have typical draft movement: decent walk, holy jackhammer trot, and (from what I’ve been able to feel from just a few strides) a lovely, rolling canter. Unfortunately, he’s still a big of a greenie, and while his canter button is installed, it gets sticky…and there can be Bucking. There is nothing like a draft horse buck! You think a Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred can buck you into outer space? Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. A DRAFT buck is insane! They have to use a whole lotta power to get that big hind end into the air, and you can feel it! Cantering has been a bit out of the question for that exact reason. My back really can’t take that kind of bucking, and, as I’ve said previously, I don’t “do” bucking very well. Henry is a big, heavy beastie that can easily overpower me. Getting his head up if he throws it down and tosses a couple of gleeful bucks is a feat in itself!
He is still a love and a little walk-trot ride isn’t always a bad thing. When we do manage to coordinate our schedules so I can ride, we work mostly on just softening to the bit at the walk. Drafts aren’t really known for being very responsive, but he’s definitely the most sensitive one I’ve ever ridden. Usually by the end of whatever ride I take him on, he’s much softer and more receptive to the bit…now, if only I could really use my leg on him! 😉
J, a woman who has become a dear friend in a very short amount of time, is Henry’s owner. We usually have a fabulous time together. I’m going to go over there on Sunday and spend some time letting Henry mess up my hair, and maybe ride if I get the motivation to climb a ladder to get on him. It’ll be good for the both of us!