Drifter is high on grass. There are no two ways about it. He is a lot of horse right now.
Last year when it was finally time to go to summer turn-out the grass was relatively tired and not growing at 100 miles a minute.
This year there is much grass. So with the horses going out overnight most nights (downpours permitting), there is much grass being eaten. Aside from the productivity of his digestive system, which is indeed marked, this means ENERGY!
Last year, when the grass was relatively poor, all the horses came in lazy from a night out in the fields. When ridden they just wanted to listlessly shamble around.
This year they are FAST and full of themselves.
Ordinarily Drifter and I work mostly in trot, with the odd circle or single circuit of the arena in canter. This week, we have mostly worked in a constant canter, with breaks for me to get my breath back during which he offers canter again if I make the slightest change in my posture or hands. I am completely worn out trying to keep hold of him. I have been reminded that I am sitting on a half ton of animal, who seems to have been eating rocket fuel and feels the need to burn it up.
If time and school availability permitted it would be good to lunge him for 20 min. before I got on at the moment, but it hasn’t been practical. I did, however, reduce his hard feed. (Oh cruel one! How can you do that to your poor little pony that’s never been fed. Please Sir, can I have some more…)
In the last week we have seen a great deal of torrential rain. I have seen much of it from under my raincoat and Drifter has seen much of it from under his turnout rugs. When we’re on the summer pattern he gets turned out by about 3 in the afternoon, I turn up 4.30-5.00 ish, fetch him in, groom and ride. On Thursday and Friday this week at 4.30-5.00 it was absolutely drowning down with rain. Happily I’ve managed to ride indoors on both those days. I was really pleased to find, on bringing him in and removing his turn-out rugs, that their waterproofing was standing up to the downpours. His body was warm and dry. I had expected some leaks at some points, but no, they seem to be doing their job excellently. So that’s one less thing to worry about.
But when one thing gets removed from the worry list one can always find another to start on, and this week was no exception. He’s allergic to his fly spray. He was a lumpy swollen boy under his rugs. We’re now using a home-made one that neither of us are allergic to, but the experience has given him an understandable aversion to having things sprayed on him. I’m hoping that over time and with patience he’ll get over this, but it’s taking a very long time to get ready to ride when I have to squirt, take a deep breath, persuade him to relax, wait and repeat. I could apply it with a cloth but I know the staff will expect to be able to squirt him, so it makes sense to work on retraining him despite the inconvenience. It’s just unfortunate that this is comes at the same time as the extra energy from the grass – he’s got much more energy to fight the fly spray rather than relaxing and enduring it!
On Saturday I ended up riding despite the impending thunder-storm. We began outside, so that we’d have more space to get the crazy canters out. The thunder started just after we got into the school but we stayed out until the black line in the sky was almost over us. Then we moved indoors. My plan was that if I kept asking for things that would keep his brain engaged he wouldn’t have the mental energy left over to worry about the thunder and lightning. So boy did I keep him working! We did all kinds of circles, all gaits, counter flexion and ordinary, transitions galore, rein-backs (really dodgy-looking but they get his brain going), leg yielding – I just kept asking and asking and asking and riding my socks off. The rain battered on the roof, the thunder crashed, the lightning flashed. The wind blew sheets of spray at us down one long side and a crazed pigeon flew in the other, dashed around the roof and exited again, but we kept working working working, and he had no spare energy to do anything more than wave his ears at the pigeon and the inclement weather and the leaky bits of roof that dripped on us unexpectedly. I could not say that we had a nice dressage outline 😉 but we did a hell of a lot in that one ride. By the time we finished the storm was still raging but we’d had a great workout despite it. I came away feeling that I can really ride this horse, even when he’s high on grass and thunder-storms. And that’s just as well, because all this rain is only going to make the grass grow 😀