My super generous friends are keeping me in the saddle while Sunny is still out of commission. I am very grateful to have a number of friends who just happen to own brilliant, saintly horses and who are willing to share them! Monday evening I met my friend out at the barn and we saddled up her two very different horses for a pony playdate in the outdoor arena. The weather was beautiful and the horses were very well-behaved. We were the only ones at the barn out riding so it was calm, quiet, and we had the arena to ourselves. My friend owns a very studly, bay haflinger cross gelding named Duke who is just a doll. He has personality for miles and really loves his human. My friend has trained him in dressage and he knows quite a bit of lower-level stuff. He’s getting older now, and she has been working really hard to keep him sound and feeling good. He loves to work and will happily strut around an arena as long as there is a cookie or candy corn in it for him at the end of the ride! Her other horse is a gray (all white) Paint cross with a mysterious past. She is reintroducing him to dressage and takes a weekly lesson. Cruiser is tall and lanky, while Duke is short and stocky. Duke is affectionate and silly, Cruiser is rather indifferent albeit quirky. They are quite a pair!
When my friend invites me out for rides, if Duke is sound, we’ll ride them both and swap. She always gets a kick out of me riding Duke because I am quite a bit taller than she is. She uses kid-sized stirrups on Duke’s saddle so when I ride him I either have to remember to bring my own, or I ride without stirrups. On Monday night I crossed the stirrups to take Duke through his paces but apparently failed to correctly cross my left stirrup as evidenced by the giant bruise on my inner thigh-only on the left…whoops. But I did get to canter him without stirrups which was fun and non-threatening since after switching from Cruiser to Duke I felt like my feet could almost touch the ground anyway. I brought her my ThinLine half pad to try in her lessons on Cruiser. Her saddle fits him fairly well, but he spent a while as a pasture pet so his top line just isn’t quite there yet and he might like a little extra padding while she builds him back up. I hope it works for them!
In other news, I visited Sunny last night for the first time in a couple weeks. His hooves are actually looking much better and I lunged him lightly without tack. I can hardly remember what this looks like since it’s been so long but I could have sworn he was sound. After he warmed up, and with a bit of cajoling, I got a trot that was positively RHYTHMIC. I was alone at the barn so there was a chance I was hallucinating but I was so pleased!! He’s on some new hoof supplement and his owner has been applying some type of hoof hardener, but honestly, I really didn’t have high expectations. But, I think after last night, he may be able to return to work! We may need a girth extender though because SOMEONE has been packing on the sympathetic pregnancy weight, and it isn’t me.
Any tips you’d be willing to share on bringing a horse back into work?