A woolly boy closeup!
I couldn’t get a full body shot that showed the hairiness as well as this. This is the current state of his neck, with the back of his jaw just at the right of the shot. The mud on his neck was removed after I took the shot, but I thought it might make it easier to see if I took the picture pre-grooming.
I know I said I was going to hold out, but he’s just getting so sweaty, so I’ve asked for him to be clipped at some point this week.
Sunday morning we had a lesson. Saturday night was his last night of Summer turnout pattern and it didn’t leave him in a good mood. There was little grass and the temperature was lower and all the horses came in cold, grumpy and hungry.* I arrived at 9.30 and he was already hungry enough for his 11.00 haynet to be kicking the door (and getting told off for it). He seemed so hungry that I actually checked he’d been fed! He had been: hard feed and morning haynet had been hoovered up. I put a fleece on him and he warmed up a bit before the lesson but he remained in a foul mood and had a good try at biting me when I girthed him, which he hasn’t tried for months and months.
It turned out there’d been a bit of a mix up with schools – there were lessons booked in all 3 and a lady had come to view and try 2 expensive dressage horses belonging to the dealer/trainer who works out of the yard. As mine was the lesson in the biggest school, I was the one who ended up sharing.**
2 beautiful, well-bred and well-trained young warmblood dressage horses, shining and groomed to the highest standards, with gleaming black tack and shining white exercise bandages entered the school, each being shown to their full advantage by dressage riders of a very high calibre. They joined me, my little, unbalanced extremely hairy cob, my very basic riding skills and my rather loud instructor. To say I felt outclassed would be somewhat of an understatement 😉
But it was my lesson and I was having it. After a few minutes of getting over the surprise we really started working. For the most part they avoided me and for the most part I forgot about them and got on with it. Once the trot work was going well we started by cantering on the good rein and managed 3 pretty good balanced circles that were surprisingly round. I was really pleased with the roundness of the circles – easily the best we’ve ever done, but they did take it out of us and then it was time to set up cantering to the right. His bad mood had been in evidence at points throughout the lesson, but now it really manifested, mainly in cantering on the spot (on the wrong leg) when I asked for a more ‘together’ trot, but also in napping, which he hasn’t tried for months. So I rode him. We got that canter lead eventually through sheer willpower on my part, and even managed to canter 1 good circle (and one terrible 3/4 of a circle) on the correct lead. By the time we were allowed to stop I was so out of breath all I could hear were my lungs and my heart. I assumed he was blowing too, but the cooldown was as much for me as for him! I realised I’d completely forgotten about the buyers watching, and only been conscious of the dressage horses enough to pass on the correct side and avoid crashing.
On the way back to the stable he tried to bite me again but I’m pretty grumpy when I’m hungry, so I rugged him and arranged for him to have an extra haynet. We have another lesson on Tuesday so I hope we can keep building on this success, but also that he’ll be in a better mood by then!
*I’m surprised he wasn’t rugged when I got there – this is the first time I’ve ever thought he should be rugged and he wasn’t.
**Also the first time I’ve heard of anyone having to share a school for a lesson.