Working Out the Kinks (and Some Other Things), Part Two

Do you ever feel like you’re just simply can’t keep up no matter what you do?

I am so tired. The holiday season has been a bit of a bitch slap this year — last year’s holiday season was actually rather slow and almost enjoyable. This year was a full month of running around with my hair on fire and trying not to ruin too many Christmases at work.

Baby Flynn adequately portraying how I’m feeling right now.
With all of that, and the general hoopla of the holidays, dealing with some really terrible stomach bugs (SO TIRED OF THROWING UP /end TMI), and trying to figure out the nuances of my new critter, I’ve fallen behind in blogging. I look at Blogger, and the five half-finished posts I have, and can’t even begin to think about finishing them. I have so much I want to say and share about this funny little yellow horse that has come into my life. I’m going to try and condense everything down into one post so I stop feeling so guilty and can get myself back on track!

Things are honestly going quite well with Simba. He is already proving himself to be extremely smart, curious, and willing (mostly) to do as I ask. We had a fabulous (but bitterly cold!) ride on Christmas Day that left me with a grin that I couldn’t wipe off my face. He was “there” with me the entire time instead of focusing on the stimuli around him, and didn’t offer one startle or spook! He and I had words about his insistence of popping his shoulder, and he was better about it (not perfect, but better!), and we practiced lots of stopping and standing still. He is NOT one to like standing around, so his method of “can we go now PLEASE?” is to offer a little pop up into the air. He hasn’t done it once since I majorly got after him the first few times he did it, but it’s still something I have in the back of my brain. His little pop ups are honestly pathetic, but if left unchecked, they could turn into something that I don’t feel like dealing with. So, laying down the law now is super important when it comes to his little half hearted rears. On the other hand, he was gaiting beautifully with minimal pacing. When he did pace, I was able to bump him back into a four beat gait with just my seat and a little bit of rein. It’s not going to take much to lock him back into his gait once spring rolls around and we can work more consistently on getting him muscled up. His gait is fun now but I’m trying to keep it to long walks up and down hills to build up his hind end as much as possible before spring hits. As for the canter button…? We’ll see what happens come spring when I can hunt down a ring to use. Or something.

After our Christmas ride!

Of course, we’ve now hit a minor (aka: major) snag: I’m out of a saddle. After riding in L’s saddle and realizing JUST how unstable my saddle is, I’ve got nothing to ride him in. I’m debating on what to do at this point. J, the owner of the black and white pinto Spotted Saddle Horse mare that I tried a few months ago, has offered to let me try her Bob Marshall endurance saddle. I’m going to give it a shot, even though it’s not the color I want (minor), has a lower cantle (also minor) and has the western rigging (major, but can be remedied easily with some aftermarket rigging converters). It’s not exactly what I want, but she and I could easily finangle something where I could keep my very special Bob Marshall and make it look pretty in my bedroom and still have one to ride in. Option 2 is to sell my very special Bob Marshall (sob!) and go all out on the Bob Marshall I really want: a standard endurance model in black with a 5″ cantle, a bright annoying blue Skito pad, and the Dixie Midnight pad to go underneath to provide even more stability. I LOVE treeless saddles. I love that when everything comes together, you have a very comfortable ride for both you and your horse…but figuring it all out is proving to be more difficult than I thought. I think I’ll be borrowing L’s Synergist saddle this weekend to see how that does, and then will go from there. 

In other tack related news, after the semi unproductive ride that happened when I stuck a bit with a higher port in his mouth, I shifted back to the low port comfort mouth curb bit that I originally put him in. Guess who was happy as could be with the bit this time around? We’ll be sticking with this one indefinitely, as it gives me a little extra “oomph”, should I ever need it, and still allows me lift and isolate one shoulder or the other when I need to. I hardly have to touch the reins with him, which is just freakin’ awesome. GP had an iron mouth, and Image…well, Image was Image, so it’s very nice to have a soft mouthed, responsive critter to work with. Now, here’s to hoping I don’t screw him up somehow!

Simba is also proving to be rather tricky to figure out in the stall. We’ve started banking one side of Simba’s stall and leaving the rest of it swept back from shavings. He still walks the stall like a lunatic, but it’s cut down hugely on the amount of pee and poop he smushes into his face and body. Vainness aside, I was not really enjoying knocking so much dried pee off of him that if I accidentally inhaled, I was inhaling dried pee. He looks less disgusting and I’m less grossed out. However, if his stall walking doesn’t resolve sooner rather than later, he’s going to turn into an outdoor pony. I have a feeling that resolving it would mean consistent, 5-6 day a week work to get all of his nervous energy under control, but right now, that’s simply not possible with the weather, my work schedule, how far I live from him, and lack of an indoor/riding ring in general. There are a few other tricks that may be worth trying (toys, Likits, ect.) but my gut feeling says this is just how it’s going to be.

He’s also proving himself to be very tolerant, again and again and again.  For example:
He wears tarps without blinking an eye. He also watches pot bellied pigs drag tarps around with only minor ear flickers.

He even plays nice with the piggies! Meet Pepper the pot bellied pig. She promptly tried told Simba what was what and snapped at his very offensive nose in her face.
He also tolerates his mother teaching him very things that are more cute than useful:
With his blossoming confidence in his surroundings, he’s also becoming more confident trying to test the boundaries. He found out very quickly that Bad Things happen when you pin your ears at Mama and Food Lady (namely, myself and my aunt!). I’m used to horses with less reactivity, so I’m having to edit my usual “make them think they’re going to die for five seconds” routine and taking it down a notch or two. I may or may not have plastered him up against the back of the stall when he pinned his ears back and gave me a cranky face at feeding time the other week, and that may have been overkill! However, he hasn’t really attempted it again…I expect him to, because that’s just the way he is.
I am spending a lot of time reminding myself that this is not Image. Simba will never be Image. Simba will never be the sweet, kind hearted, mush of a horse that Image was. Simba is willing, but he is constantly asking “why? Why do I need to do this? Why do I need to listen to you?” and only after you’ve firmly answered his questions does he respond accordingly with a “yes ma’am”…and he doesn’t always do it with a smile. Image so desperately wanted to be a good boy, even when he was scared out of his mind or hurting or whatever, that even when he was exploding underneath me, he never really questioned “why?”.  Image would try, try, try, TRY to get it right instead of questioning why he should be trying to get it right.

Image was also cuddly. Simba…well, he tolerates me hanging off him. Maybe he’ll surprise me and turn into the snugglebug that Image was, but I kind of doubt it!

Simba did, of course, make me go a bit melty this past Sunday…Hannah from The Longest Format stopped by to meet Simba and say hello. We were chatting in the barn after I had buffed him up a little, and while I was standing in front of him, he spent at least ten minutes wiggling his top lip all over me. My arms, my chest (he’s apparently a boob man?), my face, my stomach…it was painfully cute. I’m not sure what he was after, because he knows Mama doesn’t give out treats for free and hasn’t once been pushy about treats with me. He was twitching his top lip much like horses do when you scratch them and the feel the need to groom you back. I let him do it, because he didn’t try to use teeth once…and it made me smile. I think teaching him to give kisses is in his immediate future.
So, that’s that. We’re about to embark on another weekend, and I hope to get out and ride both Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow is supposed to be gloriously sunny as well so I hope to clean the critter up as best I can and take some end of the day photos when the light in D’s paddock is borderline perfect. 
Here’s to hoping I’m back on track for the new year! Happy 2014, everyone! Look, here’s some proof that I actually do ride sometimes!
Please ignore non-matchy helmet. D was kind and let me borrow hers after I left mine in my car…which was sitting at the bottom of her very steep, snow covered driveway. Ginger Spice the Chevy Prism does not do snow well!

2 thoughts on “Working Out the Kinks (and Some Other Things), Part Two

  1. Madeline C. January 4, 2014 / 1:46 am

    You guys look like you're having a lot of fun! Can't wait to get together for a ride sometime.


  2. L.Williams January 5, 2014 / 12:22 am

    saddle woes, inevitable when you get a new horse. At least the snow ride looks fun!


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