This week is just a humid, sweaty mess. The air pressure changes have left me with a low-grade headache every day – maybe Schmoodle is feeling the same, as he was desperate for a head rub when he came in last night. He was also a bit fussy about the fly bonnet when I bridled him – lots of head flailing, which is unlike him – so I elected to leave it off.
MISTAKE. The little biting bugs were out in force – good luck getting a steady connection when your horse is shaking his head furiously. He was a bit on the muscle in trot, but manageable – but as soon as I picked up my left lead canter, he basically spit out the bit and I lost any semblance of throughness. I tried lateral work, tried transitions, tried changing the flexion – all I had was tension. So instead of upping the ante and increasing the pressure – I’ve learned my lesson since last week! – I came back to walk and asked for a series of ten-metre figure-eights, keeping the neck long and the body in proper shape. Then I built back up to trot on a 20 metre circle – still good.
As soon as I picked up my canter to the right, though, I could tell that Schmoodle was DONE. He proceeded to throw a full-blown tantrum – rocking horse leaping, jigging, trantering, swinging the hindquarters willy-nilly, rooting against my hand. Again, instead of increasing the pressure, I sat as still as possible; kept a steady leg pressure and a solid but following contact; and waited him out. It took a few circles, but eventually I won – I lengthened and then shortened the canter a bit, then changed directions. I love the feeling I get when he is finally round and neither pulling nor ducking out from the contact – so much power. A bit more of the same shenanigans ensued to the left, but it took way less time to get through to him this direction, surprisingly, as this is usually his stiffer side. As soon as I got the feel and was able to keep it while lengthening and shortening a bit, I let Schmoodle trot and canter on a long rein to leave the idea of stretching as the last thing in his mind. Then I called it a day. Not the best ride – I wasn’t impressed by the tantrum – but it ended positively, and this time I’m pretty sure I had the right response. Plus, he felt good in his body at the end: tired, but supple, and his eye was super soft and relaxed.
I do think something might be going on in Schmoodle’s right hind – consistent heaviness on the left rein/shoulder, tantrum when asked to carry himself in canter on a circle going right, a bit of sensitivity in the right hindquarter when brushing. He also has quite a few bite marks from his pasture mates on that side, some under the saddle pad area. I’m going to see what my trainers think when I see them on Thursday.
After stopping for our mandatory apple under the trees lining the driveway, my very sweaty horse and I headed for the showers. Alas, the hose reel was not connected to the spigot, which I only realized after turning on the tap, thus causing a mini-flood of the barn aisle. Cheers to whoever detached the hose and didn’t write a note about it on the board. After struggling in vain to reattach everything while a hot Schmoodle waited patiently, I settled for a sponge bath (and very wet feet for me) instead. That’s just the kind of week I’m having: on Monday morning, my bicycle broke down on the ride to work; that evening, I put my laundry plus soap in my apartment building’s washer only to realize that it was out of order, forcing me to hand-wash the load in the bathtub.
Anyways, maybe I should stop complaining about being hot and sweaty. It’s September, the days are getting shorter, and any day know I’ll be knocking ice balls out of my horse’s feet while wearing Michelin-man style layers.
In other news, my best friend KPT just booked our tickets to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (“the Royal”) in November! Woohoo! The Royal is basically all of American Indoors wrapped into one, plus a huge agricultural show, loads of vendors, and awesome food. We’re going for the final of the Canadian show jumping championships, which is also the finale of the indoor eventing (always controversial), and most importantly…SHETLAND PONY STEEPLECHASING! There also may or may not be a repeat of the time we snuck in bottles of Fanta spiked liberally with whiskey (…I know) and got drunk in the bathrooms between rounds. You just never know.
PS, I just received the Hunt Club belt I recently ordered – it’s rare that I a) order stuff online from the US due to shipping costs and b) order trendy riding stuff, but I reeeeally loved the look of these. I ordered the “On Deck” colour (all the names are great: Long Spot, Single Oxer, Lake Placid…) My review: it’s really well-made and spiffy looking! It’s pleasantly stretchy and I love the silver hardware, as well as the colour of the leather fixings.
Two things to note: first, I would have liked the belt to be a half-inch wider, as I like that look with wide-waistband breeches (there was no measurement on the website). Second, when I adjust the belt to my optimal setting, the cute round silver finial gets bisected by the leather keeper, so I have to have it a bit looser or tighter than ideal to get a really clean look. (Yeah, #firstworldproblems.)
Overall, for about $35 CAD shipped, I like this belt a lot; it fancies up my barn look in a pleasantly preppy way, and makes me feel kinship with those cool juniors I
stalk follow on Instagram. Win.
Anyone else have any upcoming horsey tourism planned? I’d love to go to Harrisburg to watch Medal Finals some day.