Of Horse(s) and Woman
Where do the days go? I just realised it’s a whole week since I announced that the Boys were going back to work and I haven’t posted a word on here since! I blame our social life…
It’s weird. When we lived back in Cork, we rarely went out. Maybe two or three times a month, at most. This last week, we’ve had something to do. Every. Single. Day. The two days we weren’t out in the evening, we had arranged to meet people for lunch. So yeah. We’ve gone from practically being hermits to being social butterflies.
I have a theory, though. I think our sudden popularity is because I no longer run a livery yard. Not only did I always have to be on-site at 7pm to do evening feeds, I also stank of horse, even after showering. And if, by some miracle, I managed to not smell like a stable, I had usually forgotten to scrape the black half-moons of horse-crud out from under my fingernails. That one always goes down well when you reach for the bread rolls at a fancy dinner :
“Can I have some bread?” (Notes horrified looks on fellow diners’ faces. Oops, I’ll just have to sit on my hands for the rest of the meal. Oh well, I can eat by dipping my face directly into my plate. Surely that won’t offend anyone)
I digress. Our social life has been fun recently, but this post is all about Aero and Flurry. We’ve been ticking over all week, gently getting back into the swing of things.
Aero was my first victim, last Friday. We mostly did a little ground work, just refreshing all that equitation ethologique stuff in his brain. He’s so clever, and he really, really enjoys this stuff. I am going to start pushing the boundaries with him. For example, today I attempted to do a slalom on a circle, with me staying inside a zone de contrôle I drew on the ground. It went so well, we even attempted it at trot! Trotting worked ok on the left rein, but not on the right. This is why it’s important to work the horse evenly from both sides, not just to keep him supple but also so that he knows he should be attentive, no matter where you are. Anyway, on Friday, his first day back at work, he was so happy to be doing stuff that I sat up on him bareback (with head collar!) to see how he he felt about bending to the left. (Remember, he had the Osteopath out at the end of July?) And I got a sharp reminder of why I don’t ride him bareback. Ouch, his withers is high. I used a saddle the next day and did about half an hour of (bitless) flatwork, just working on turning and bending. He was a bit fresh, which was interesting the first time we cantered. I found out that I CAN control him with a halter when he tanks off across the arena. Phew. I rode him one more time during the week and he’s continuing to work well, but he’s still not as responsive to my leg/weight aids as Flurry. For example, a turn down the centre line usually degrades to being a turn down the three-quarters line. Circles are weird slanty things until I reinforce my leg aids with my hands, which is what I’m trying to get away from. I’m sure we’ll get there eventually. Actually, I’m determined that we’ll get there eventually. It WILL happen.
Flurry has now become The Horse that No Longer gets Treats. After his thuggish behaviour at the Nationals, when he cared more about finding carrots on my person than he cared about paying attention to my requests, I have decided that he will have to work for no reward other than praise. He’s thrilled. Not. We’ll see how good his groundwork is when he hasn’t had any treats for a week or two! He’s been lovely to ride though. Forward, but not too forward. I have to confess that I chose to ride him with a bridle this week. He has a positively naughty streak that Aero doesn’t possess and if he decides to tank off in the arena with me for a bit of a laugh, he’ll throw in a couple of bucks for good measure. I didn’t fancy hitting the deck on my first week back in action!
Anyway, it’s all been good, apart from the early starts. I try to be finished by 10.30am at the latest, because the horseflies are unbearable at the moment. Once they get going, it’s just not fair to ask poor Aero to keep working, he gets so upset by them. Plus, he seems to attract them more than Flurry. Roll on the cooler days of Autumn.
I’m off to a dressage show at Vidauban for the weekend. I’m going along partly as Alexandrine’s groom but mostly as a spectator. It should be fun! Hopefully I’ll be able to watch the WEG show jumping finals somewhere, too… I’ve been addicted to WEG since last week. I splashed out on a subscription to FEI TV – the best fifty quid I ever spent.
Best of luck to our Irish riders – hopefully they will secure their Olympic qualifying spot or maybe even get on the podium! Fingers crossed!