It’s been…too long since I last updated about blonde beastie outside of “here this is my horse he is pretty!” pictures. Believe it or not, I am riding and while it’s not as much as I want, it’s still something! I used to not be phased by the drive back and forth from home to the barn, but it has gotten increasingly more and more daunting. I live an hour and fifteen from where Simba is stabled, and while I won’t move him because I don’t trust anyone else with my horse, it makes riding during the week a right pain in the arse!
But, we’re getting in as much as we can…and usually, it’s solo these days, which has been good for both of us, I think. We were plunking down the road last Saturday and it occurred to me just how much had changed with this little horse in a short amount of time.
|Again, I say…tolerant pony is TOLERANT.|
When I purchased Simba, he was pushy, out of shape (okay he was a freaking marshmallow, haha!), reluctant to work, a bit of a spaz (okay a lot of a spaz), and generally disenchanted with the whole “human/horse relationship”. He lacked focus and drive, and spent most of his time fighting me tooth and nail over…well, everything. Gaiting was out of the question because he spent 99.99999% of the ride trying to turn back for home and spent the other .00000001 of the time spooking at stupid shit or being too tense to do anything other than dragon snort at everything. He was obnoxious, rude, made a complete pigsty of his stall, and got himself many unkind nicknames (Douchenozzle comes to mind…).
Needless to say, we kind of hated each other. Like, a lot.
So, I made the decision to sell him, but kept working with him because he’d be a better horse for it at the end of the day. I kept on keeping on and tried to refrain from beating him with a 2 by 4. I’m sure he felt the same way.
Thankfully, we are both still alive and regular work has done wonders for his little pea brain. D made a comment on a ride this past weekend that I had grown to love him. I eyed her, and responded that while I’m not sure I’d use anything like “love” to describe where we’re at now, we are tolerating each other with a surprising amount of good cheer these days. She laughed and said that only an English major would put it that way. I didn’t have much of a comeback for that…because she’s probably right!
We have come quite a ways from where we started, that’s for sure. His ground manners have turned from “meh” to “obediant” quite quickly. He was a wiggly little devil on the cross ties, pushy as all get out in the halter, and had real concept of “soft” when I first got him. First of all, he learned right quick that while I may be wee compared to him, I carry a big stick…sometimes literally. You are big, I am little, so keep your bigness over there and make sure you contain it if things go batshit. He learned to not be a prat on the crossties. He quit pawing all together. He started relaxing — he went from a lit rocket to knowing the crossties meant nap time because I was going to fuss obnoxiously over his mane and tail and coat and white stocking and other things that were incredibly boring — and learned right quick that the Evil Finger was followed up by something sterner.
We spent a bit of time on ground work in general those first few months, and I think that was the key in reinforcing a lot in his brain. He’s learned how to lunge in both directions at all gaits (walk/gait, trot, pace, FLAILOMG!/canter-thingee) softly and quietly. He learned some basic groundwork exercises and has proven himself to be quite intelligent when he tunes in and tries. Sometimes, that’s right away when I put him to work. Other times, he’s subjected to hard and fast commands until he realizes flying around with his tail flagged is a bad idea.
|His forelock does this every time he wears his Darth Vader mask…it cracks me the hell up.|
He’s also come leaps and bounds in his under saddle work. D pointed out to me the other day that maybe his girth had been bothering him for a lot longer than I realized (bad pony mama!). We still have some difficulties over uneven ground, but just since switching his girth, he has either become more comfortable or has just figured out that we are both happier when he gaits like he should. He still has a myriad of gears within the gaits he possesses, but he is flopping into “hard pace” less and less. Now it’s time to refine him into a consistent rack instead of his tendency to lull me into a sense of complacency with the stepping pace. What’s the difference? It’s a bit crude, but if my boobs are bouncing, it ain’t right. A little wiggle is fine — I mean, Christ on a cracker, they’re boobs — but if I’m in pain or getting smacked in the face despite my sports bra, we’ve got issues. The stepping pace makes them bounce. It’s not uncomfortable, but when he steps into his rack and the only thing that moves is my hair…? Well, yeah, I want the no-bouncy one.
Gait aside, he’s a buckle ride most of the time now. Once I figured out that he HATED to be micromanaged (and despised ringwork equally as much) and became claustrophobic on a short rein, things fell into place. He toodles along at whatever gait I put him in, for the most part, has quit with the stupid spooking at nothing, and never says no. We had a bit of an issue with water, but he’s since figured out it’s not a horse eating monster and splashed around in a pond last weekend after scaring the bajeepers out of about a million and a half frogs.
He is still an opinionated critter and will give me flak if he thinks he’s being wronged in some way, but he has never, ever been dangerous. He’s a passive aggressive kind of horse — nothing he ever does (or ever really has done) has been outright dangerous or out of spite, but he is king of the passive aggressive shoulder pop or coming above the bit to avoid All the Aids. However, he’s much more likely to have a discussion with me now instead of blatantly just deciding to pretend I don’t exist anymore. He is happier, calmer, softer, quicker to respond, and generally more compliant. We went out on our first group ride in months just yesterday, and we were in front, in back, in the middle, and most of it was on the buckle. He didn’t put a hoof wrong, outside of getting possessive over “his” mares, which earned him a solid thwack on the shoulder every time he pinned his ears. He got the message and didn’t attempt it again after the third time he was soundly walloped for being rude.
|D and Tory, M and Clara…aka Simba’s Girls. Corona the Quarter Horse gelding was behind us.|
All in all, he’s turned into quite a solid little trail horse. I’m super proud of how quickly he’s turned into one, too. He came to me more than a little green and definitely a lot spoiled. He was loved from the tips of his ears to the bottom of his tail, but he thought he should be the once calling the shots. Fortunately, he’s not stupid and when he’s not throwing a hissy fit, he takes direction and correction quite well. He’s turned it around very quickly, and has surprised me in many ways in the meantime. We still have stuff to work on, as we always will, but I’m pleased with his progress in general.
He’s a good little blonde beastie…just, you know, not MY good little blonde beastie.
So, that does mean that he’s still for sale. We’ll keep on keeping on and having adventures. Come September, I will be going with Kelsey and Harlan of Blonde Bomber Acres to Myles Standish State Forest for a weekend of camping (…this…could be interesting). I’m hoping to find someone who really wants to go to the beach for a ride at some point in the next couple of weeks before it gets too cold, as Labor Day marks the opening of beaches to horses. I have an elaborate and ridiculous Halloween costume planned if he’s still around for that. I will keep riding him until the day he leaves, because it’s good for both of us.
…aaand hopefully I’ll suck at blogging less! Here’s a picture of me yesterday…and yes, this was before drinking anything alcoholic.
|Yeah, that’s a giant feed tub. I’m here to entertain!|