Yes, as usual telling you what Drifter got up to while I was away has jumped the queue and beat me to the holiday post.
They tell me he’s been very good … except when he was naughty!
Mostly he’s only been naughty when they go to bring him in from turnout. Suddenly he feels the need to canter away from anyone who wants to catch him. I’m slightly proud of him making known that he doesn’t think it’s enough turnout, but this is probably because I don’t need to catch him myself. I have no idea whether he’d come in for me or not. Currently he goes out in the afternoons, while I’m at work and I ride in the mornings at weekends so I have no opportunity to find out. This leaves me in the happy position of telling myself I’d have no trouble catching him, while never having to find out I’m wrong! Still I’m pretty sure he’d come for bribes, especially if I put my clicker pouch on (because it suggests I have multiple bribes!)
Apparently he was very good out hacking while I was away, including going through the rather full ford without difficulty. That’s something I suspect he wouldn’t do for me. Last time we tried I ended up getting off and walking him through it in-hand. (Luckily I had old boots on!) His staff rider has strong legs, strong will and isn’t slow to put him in his place, so he must have decided it was easier to go through it for her than to have an argument about it and then end up going through anyway.
He wasn’t solely hacked though, there were schooling sessions in there too … during which I think he took the piss out of his riders and engaged rocket-giraffe mode. I think this because everyone was saying he was very forward and wanted to canter. And since I’ve got back on I’ve had comments from other liveries about how un-giraffe-like he looks with me! At least one of his staff riders is not very experienced and he probably got away with a lot with her but I don’t have a problem with that. Because she’s inexperienced she doesn’t get much opportunity to ride different horses. If I had booked schooling to improve my horse I wouldn’t ask her to ride, but as I was booking it to keep his arthritis at bay it mattered more that he moved than how he moved, so why shouldn’t she get a ride once or twice instead of always being the one left mucking out while others ride? He’s fast when he’s in that mood but he’s still a safe, kind horse. Everyone tells me they think he wanted to canter but from what I’ve felt since getting on again he has no intention to canter – he just wants to trot really fast to get out of doing any actual work. That’s always been his go-to evasion.
In my first few rides since holiday he’s been trying to pull out the giraffe-rocket trot with me and being reminded I don’t accept it. Once I redirect that energy to all work being done in a polite shape, using the whole horse, not just the forehand, he is forward but not rushing. He’s not offering canter and I’m not asking. He’s not ready. When he can keep the nice trot regular and rhythmic whether on a straight line or a bend, that will be the time to think about canter. Before then I want to be able to trot different shapes without falling out of balance. That is what we need to work on. Once 20 m circles and “going large” are easy and rhythmic we can think of tighter circles and turns and more challenging shapes. I want to work towards him having a body we can control, between us. I do not think either of us will be helped by cantering when he is all over the place in trot. I want to have a horse who is able and willing to let me control any leg/shoulder/quarter in lower gaits before I ask for the canter. We have so much past of cantering without him being able to let me do the fancy things like … ooh, steering! and I will not risk that when we are building strength back up and know we could hit new joint problems if we get silly. Before we canter I want to know we have a useful level of strength, flexibility and obedience that we can go straight in with a nice canter, not a mad gallopy scramble that scares both of us.
In walk we now have consistent good work for all sorts of shapes including in counter flexion and some tiny bits of lateral work. In walk I can ask for all sorts of different things and get them. Now we will work for that in trot. This is all that I need, all that I want for now. The trotting world is our oyster.
Besides, I hear he is doing plenty of cantering whenever they try to bring him in from the field 😉
P.S. Sarcoid treatment has begun with bloodroot ointment. Early days on that. He’s coping; so are the humans who have to apply it. Not much else to say.