Monday, January 9, 2023

a horse update

I haven't mentioned my horse here in a while. Buddy turns 10 this year and I've now had him for 7 years as of October 2022.

Spring 2022, still a bit fuzzy with
what was left of his winter coat

He has come so far in the last year that I'm more excited than ever to work with him this spring. He's been such a flighty boy, but since this past summer, around a year since I brought him to a boarding facility closer to me than my parents' farm, he's really settled down. Most horses hit that between 3-4 years. Buddy--9 years. Now, he's going on 10 and is finally in that good spot mentally.

I've been told that he's become quite the herd boss, which takes some confidence, even chasing around new horses or lower hierarchy horses in his pasture gelding herd. I've noticed he's not so afraid of things anymore, even going up to something that he's not sure about to check it out. But he has his moments still, especially when air pressure drops. All horses get stupid in the head to some degree when the air pressure drops.

Buddy will never be a fancy show horse, but he gives me 110% of his effort... except when I ask for a right lead. Every once in a while, he doesn't want to step under and then has to give a little buck when I ask for the right lead. It can't be too easy, right? Aside from that, I've always said that he makes up for his lack of athletic ability in what he has for heart.

His dressage work took a huge leap forward since one riding lesson last summer in particular that reminded me to let go of my fear of a runaway, which is unlikely with him but has happened to me. I had to let him go forward. That helped him a lot in stretching through his topline and relaxing under saddle. I just have to remember to let him move forward and turn him on a tighter circle to sit him down if he gets too fast.

Now, I think he's ready for something new. I wanted to do this last year, but couldn't find the saddle in stock, which is just as well. We clearly still had some issues to work out in our dressage work.

Some people spend thousands of $$ on gaming stuff. Me (and any equestrian)... new saddle. Riders collect saddles like gamers collect controllers, headsets, and chairs. However, I don't need many saddles when I have a Wintec, now two (my old first dressage saddle and now a new general purpose for jumping and groundwork), since they're adjustable to most horses by changing out the gullet plate. The problem is when you have a very wide horse. Putting in the extra wide plate is quite the wrestling match with the saddle.

I also have my high-end dressage saddle (not adjustable) that I bought for a previous horse almost nine years ago and which also fits Buddy, by some perfectly random chance. Saddles never fit the same horses the same way and this did require a teeny bit of thin shim padding on a special half-pad to fit him right, but otherwise it's perfect for him.

I just bought my second Wintec, a general purpose, which arrived today, and I've finished the wrestling match of changing the gullet plate to what I know fits Buddy. I look forward to starting him on some jumping this spring. I hope it builds his confidence even more under saddle and that it helps him think more about sitting back on his haunches, as well as adjusting his stride, although the dressage work and our trail riding does much of that already. Mostly, the jumping will add some change to our riding and something to help his confidence go further, as well as mine. I haven't done any hunter/jumper work since switching to dressage over fourteen years ago. It will be fun to get back to my beginnings in english riding. I'm not as young as I was back then, so this will be interesting.

This summer will be a new adventure with my horse.

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