Monday, January 28, 2013


We had a rather nasty cold snap last week and I admit, it was enough just getting down to the barn and feeding, never mind even fathoming riding. Somehow when everything is frozen solid, the simple task of cleaning and mucking takes 2 hours. And in the cold, that seems awfully long.

Moon in the middle of last week's cold snap, during a lovely blizzard...brrr....
I will say we're lucky to have a rather pleasant run-in to fill our hay nets in, and somehow even on the coldest days when you get to working, the space feels cozy and comfortable. I understand why the ponies love being in there so much they ripped the door off... ; )

Regardless, Saturday rolled around and H was curled up in bed sick. I found a quick text asking me if I'd be willing to take on feeding duty for the day and since it was *finally* a break in the cold snap, I jumped on the chance.

Out to the barn by late afternoon, spent the two hours feeding the beasts and then I pulled out my halter and clip-on reins to have some fun with Moon.

I hopped on him bareback (boy he's gotten to be a pest again about standing still for, mounting), and we headed towards the large paddock for some circles. I admit it was too cold still (and I too tired) for anything resembling proper dressage work, but large circles at a walk-trot-canter were just what I needed. We needed.

After a couple of *very* bouncy trot circles that were back jarring (I tell ya, it is ROUGH when they've gotta lift those legs high in the deep snow AND you've got a bouncy horse on a good day), I thought "Let's see what this canter can do..."

And off Mr. Moon went into the canter. He really is starting to come along on that canter depart compared to last year.

We completed a full 30 m circle and I thought, hmmm...

You see, I got this crazy goal in my head earlier this winter. I'm the furthest thing from a "natural" horseback rider. I'm not into the natural horseman crazy, tried that before I got Moon and it was just frustration and irritation. I'm not into hanging a single cord around their neck and claiming there's an unbelievable bond created by some "natural" series of events that connected myself and my horse at the soul.

I do however, believe in building solid communication. Like finding a way to communicate with someone of a different language or who can't hear, or our pets, I believe to a large extent animals can learn the basics of our body language and share a communication style with us. And the better we develop and train this language, the better our ability to communicate and in turn, have them perform tasks that we ask (granted, as we learn, you can yell at someone to do something, and that don't mean they're gonna listen if they don't want to...).

So I have this *crazy* dream in my head, for pure ability to say that Moon-pie and I have reached this level of communication (perhaps it's merely my level of insanity...both are possible), to ride him saddle-less and halter-less, around the paddock, doing circles and changing direction, with no guidance than my seat and legs.


But certainly an interesting goal guaranteed to get me working VERY hard on developing my communication with my horse. I mean, purest dressage is enhancing your seat and legs to the point where the hands merely support and don't direct. It all comes together in its way.

So there I was on Saturday, bouncing around my circle and kicked Mr. Moon off into a canter. Hmmm...

I dropped my reins.

I threw my arms out wide.

And rode Mr. Moon a full 20 m circle, bareback, in nothing but a halter and a pair of clip-on reins hanging untouched off his neck.

When I settled back and thought "Whoa", Mr. Moon slowed to a trot and a stop almost immediately.


We did it again, and I pushed for two circles with no reins, arms outstretched.

We managed 1.5 before I had a momentary freakout that he wasn't going to turn the corner and we were headed towards the electric fence. Reality is, he was a good 10 strides away and knew the fence was there...he would have turned. But I felt like he wasn't listening to my communication, so I pulled him up and turned the corner the old fashioned way.

It wasn't perfect. But it was one HUGE step closer in the dead of winter towards riding Moon the way I'm dreaming of. Someday, maybe free of the paddock. For now, we'll just keep pretending we can fly...
Silly Pony-Bums in the Manitoba Winter. 

So come Sunday, the warm weather continued to flourish, but poor H wasn't. : ( I had hoped we'd make it out on a short trail ride, but instead I headed over for solo feeding duty and then hopped aboard Mr. Moon for a replay of Saturday's formidable ride.


Not so much.

Sunday was even WARMER than Saturday. It even *felt* warmer, more springlike. I hopped aboard Mr. Moon and we did some insanely bouncy trot work. Then I asked for a canter...

And The Black and The Wizzard came WHIPPING across the paddock to run alongside us, kicking and bucking and squealing the way crazy horses do in the spring.


Moon huffed and tried to join in. He got a firm boot and pulled up to a sedate walk. Then back to trot and canter.

This time?

The Black and The Wizzard decided to stand in the MIDDLE of our 20 m circle path, and Mr. Moon, lower than The Black on the totem pole, came to an abrupt halt the moment he got close.

Hello wither in nether regions. OUCH.

I barked a bit at the other two horses, who took off yet again cantering and bucking and kicking. *sigh*

Mr. Moon? Thought, "Aren't I supposed to do this too??" Um, no.

So we tried again. Nice canter circle, and the two brats go GALLOPING alongside us, and head off to the other paddock to race through the snow. Mr. Moon decides that cantering isn't going to allow us to keep up, and there bareback and in a halter, he takes off into a gallop heading towards the opening in the fence to chase the other two.


Yes, you CAN do that in just a halter.

Resist urge to flog horse.

Remind self that sitting and tight pants will be out of the question for awhile and in the future, buy horse with no wither.

Ask horse to canter AGAIN.

Get two really nice canter circles with a resemblance of control.

Head in the other direction, pick up canter, horse fights because nit-wits are charging around the paddock calling and snorting again, remind horse who has the power to A) Feed him B) Flog him, and happily achieve that nice controlled canter circle in completion.

Three walk circles to cool now puffing horse off.

Dismount and give sugar cubes, remembering that sometimes, you gotta scream louder than the boss horse. Hey, at least he looks cute.

Watch all three canter off, bucking and kicking, like complete tools, and take comfort in the fact that this must spell the approach of spring time. I'll take psychotic horses if they come with warm weather, plenty of sunshine and more daylight hours.

Here's hoping.
Relaxing after all of their fun. 

1 comment:

  1. Nothing like the threat of a good flogging to restore order!