Oh wow, I’m way behind. Way, way behind.
I’m still riding Champ, every other day. Not much new there – he’s gaining weight, slowly but steadily, and losing hair, slowly but steadily. Much to his chagrin I’ve switched him over to Dixie’s bridle (with the d-ring snaffle, instead of his unbroken low port curb) and we are working on contact. It’s good practice for me. My hands are steadily improving. So much, in fact, that I am getting baby callouses on the tops of my index fingers, where the reins sit. Not big “I have hard hands and need gloves” callouses, but very delicate callouses from holding the reins correctly for a couple weeks straight.
I’ve ridden Dixie three times this week. On Monday the BO saw me riding and offered some tips on getting her on the bit. She coached me through a couple circles til I felt the bend – yay! I think I must take at least a lesson a month, to keep in mind what I need to work on. Anyway then she got on Dixie and worked her in a couple more circles… and Dixie trotted for her. It was cool – a very flat extended trot – but WEIRD! I’ve never had her offer to trot under saddle with me. It’s official; I’ve now seen every major gait possible from her except a running walk. Sigh – I know a good true RW is hard to get, and I know we’ll get there one day, but it’s kind of discouraging. Like if my racking horse wouldn’t rack, or my MFT wouldn’t foxtrot.
Tuesday I rode Champ, then the vet came and gave everybody spring shots. I figured they might feel stiff and/or icky Wednesday, so I stayed home.
Thursday was WARM! Finally hit the magic 70*F, so I wanted to ride Dixie then bathe her. Our ride was… very interesting. I was all prepared to not let her yank the reins, but she… didn’t. At all. She was completely calm and laid back. She didn’t object to contact at all. She didn’t freak out, hollow her back, and try to bolt even ONCE. We did some very calm peaceful walk work, then some hand grazing, then a bath.
Her life with me is an exciting mix of fun and horrible. She’s coming around to being groomed, all over, every day – that’s moving from “horrible” to “almost pleasant,” I believe. Then I ride her, which is usually exciting and also becoming less “horrible.” Sometimes I hand graze her or clicker train her, which is full on “fun.” But then! Then! I bathed her. Truly horrible.
I am pretty sure she’s never had a real bath before. She’s been hosed down, but I don’t think she’s ever had a warm water and shampoo bath in a shower stall before. She was not thrilled but put up with it pretty well. I broke my own rule about “no magical horse products” and used Expensive Magical White Horse Shampoo… which worked. She’s noticeably more sparkly. Her mane and tail are less dirty but sadly nowhere near white. No pictures til she’s cleaner!
Anyway, I wondered if the unusual calmness was a one-off so I rode her again today. She gave me a nice rack at the beginning, then some good walk work with almost no fighting the bit, then a little pacing, then some more nice calm walk work. I let her walk around on a loose rein for a bit, and she walked over to the corner where the jumps and cavalletti are stored. On her own! She very carefully investigated, giving the hairy eyeball to the wood and sniffing at it like a huge dog. When she was satisfied that the jumps were safe, we walked around a bit more and called it a day.
I coaxed her back into the wash stall. Much snorting and eye rolling but she came right in when she realized I was serious. It’s entirely too early for me to actually SAY this… but I suspect maybe she’s starting to trust me. MAYYYBE.