Sunday, April 14, 2024

Horse time

Spring is here, or at least trying to be here. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, and I spent it with my Buddy. I found out later that the world seemed to be falling apart while I was offline, but I can't do anything about it, so I'll go on living my life and enjoying the blessings God gave me.

I gave Buddy the winter off this year. I'd go out to check on him and give him treats and supplements regularly, but mostly let him be a pasture pet. He has good care where he's boarded--good hay and water and a big pasture with other geldings. I don't have to worry. I did get a call once that he had gotten out into a different pen somehow a couple of months ago, but he wasn't injured. Buddy is a pretty durable little guy (if 15 hands can be considered "little" when it's pretty average). He's built like a draft horse but without the feathers (thick fetlock hair) common to draft breeds.

The temps hit 80 F yesterday (but winter tries to come back this week)! I had to take advantage of it. The breeze wasn't an issue at that temp and in fact made the conditions perfect. I thought the barn would be packed, but that wasn't the case. It was like any summer day, a few people spending time with their horses. So, not crowded and somewhat quiet.

I figured it was time to get back on Buddy and get our first ride in after 6-7 months off. He's always been one that I could give him time off (winter) and get right back on where we left off. The only issue is his attitude on any given day, and that's not just time off. It's a Buddy issue. I'm learning that it's much worse when he has a heavy parasite load and now know that his extraordinary spookiness is one of the first signs, aside from the runny poops that come at a later point if I don't deworm him sufficiently.

This time getting back to riding was no different than any other year. He's eleven years old now and we've been together for eight and a half, so we know each other pretty well. He's my God-given life-saver. I bought him when my life was at a bad point with my health issues getting me down. He's a special case horse in personality that I knew would be ruined by most people and he's not registered and not very athletic, which means he'd have no future as a show horse. It was that sense of responsibility to make sure he didn't end up with someone who wouldn't understand his personality or ruin him that kept me hanging on when I hit a low point. That he would have eventually ended up at a kill pen was my fear. He's difficult to deal with because of his normal quirkiness. He's not a dead-head, no matter what desensitization I do with him.

Anyway, that's my Buddy. He's always been a bit unusual, but I've had sensitive horses before, so I can deal with that. Most people can't.

He enjoyed the winter off and wasn't anxious to get back to work. He saw me bring out the saddle, and I swear if he could have rolled his eyes, he would have. The look on his face and in his body said it all--"Not that again." Fat boy needs exercise. He wasn't as fat as I'd feared, however. I could easily get our normal girth on him.

I had given him some calming supplement before I tacked up, along with Platinum's Bio-Sponge in a small amount of beet pulp, since he doesn't like the Bio-Sponge much. It's helped him. I've been giving that to him throughout this past winter every time I'm out. But I wanted to see where his mind was and, after tacking up, gave him some round pen time. He didn't do anything stupid, not even when the stirrups came loose and flapped against his sides. He was looking outside a lot, although with an ear on me, so he was paying attention. He remembered how to round pen and didn't whinny for anyone; that silence is always a good sign. After the manager told me he'd worked up the big arena, we went up there to ride. I led Buddy around it once as a precaution and he seemed calm, so I mounted.

At my age, I take precautions when I'm not sure what his mind is like, especially after so much time off. The warm weather while he still has a winter coat, the calming supplement, and my prep may not have been necessary, but I'm getting too old to take things for granted and know him too well. He was the quietest he's ever been, but he showed signs of his gut being healthy too (always watch the poops). Even when we stopped in the past, he would rarely stand still. Yesterday, we'd stop and he wouldn't move a hoof. We rode and his head was long and low, not a bit of discomfort or tension or worrying about his herd or much else around him. It was a great first ride. He did everything that we've always done, although was a bit stiff in his lateral work and back to his old crookedness, so I had to keep correcting his balance.

It didn't take much for him to sweat through his saddle pad, and we rode pretty lightly, partly because he already had a touch of sweat before I even tacked up. I had counted on that working to my advantage keeping him from wanting to move too much.

Afterwards, I tried to get some pics, but he wouldn't cooperate very well for a selfie--kept looking off at another horse. And I didn't realize until I was home that I had posed him on a hill with his rump higher with his tack on, so I scrapped a full pic in his tack and I'm sharing a pic after I untacked him.

I also gave him a haircut before we rode. His mane was getting long and that gets in the way while riding. I don't like long manes, so I gave him his usual trim. He always looks better trimmed up.

After the ride

We're back in the saddle, and I'm hoping the rest of the summer goes as well as this first ride. Last year was awful. He was flighty stupid and had runny manure, and I didn't know why. Then someone told me they had their horse scoped and discovered how bad the bots were. The dewormer her vet recommended did the trick for Buddy--Quest Plus--and he settled down and his manure returned to normal. I hope bots aren't as bad this year, but at least now I'll know to keep an eye out for the signs in him.

The upcoming week is going to be terrible weather again, so I don't know when we'll get to ride next, but at least we're at the tail end of winter. I look forward to more saddle time with my Buddy again. 🐴

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