Sunday, December 23, 2012

Time to get back to work, boy. And Firefly--time to LEARN to work, girl.

Knowing the rain was coming that night (although the ground appears dry this morning--Weatherman, you lied to me!), I went to the barn with a purpose yesterday.  It was a tightly scheduled purpose; I needed to use a Groupon at Toys R Us for a gift for my youngest, and found scheduling time to get to the mecca of children's stores at the height of children's hyperactivity over impending toys more difficult than finding barn time.  Adding the Toys R Us stop gave me about 1 hour 45min kid-free time at the barn, so I went to work putting Tril to work.

I tacked him up then spent precious minutes trying to find the damn lunge line (I'd put it away when I was told to nix it from his repertoire, then turned the tack room inside-out trying to remember where "away" was), then studied my old side reins carefully.  I realized that when I lunge Tril, he goes about willy-nilly and is not being asked to frame up and use himself.  I vaguely remembered using side reins on Ana for just such a purpose, and dug them out of the Never Neverland that is the Miscellaneous Tackbox.  Then I stared at them.  Then I wondered WTH to do with them.  They attach to the bit, annnnnd?  Um?  I tried calling an experienced horsefriend for advice, and when she didn't answer, did a half-assed Googling on my smartphone.  Not finding much of use and not wanting to use them without knowing how, I opted to do something I'd seen someone done before--I ran the reins through the stirrups.  Not ideal, but it seemed to help.

I then took him out and trotted him in large circles and took riDICulously large numbers of photos. But first, I took a pic of my boy's lopsided butt.  I've mentioned his chiropractic needs and his significantly uneven hips a few times here, yet have neglected to really get a good photo of what I'm talking about.  So, here it is, in its diagonal glory.  Note, he is standing square, and this is a significant improvement over what it was like when I bought him.
Slip sliding away...slip sliding awaaaaaaaay....
I asked the chiro if it's that the left hip is raised or the right one is dropped--it's more that the left is raised than anything, but in truth, the right one is also dropped a bit, too.  This has been years in the making and will take months to correct.  Whereas Ana needed to be seen every 3mos for her first two visits from the chiro, then every six months for her next two, then just an annual readjustment, Tril needs to be seen every two months for at least his first three appointments (and the chiro told me if I were in his backyard, he'd adjust Tril every month).  This is a project of a different sort.

Now, as foreshadowed, a ridiculous number of photos of Tril trotting.  You KNOW you like pic-heavy posts, so, here you go.

I just pointed my phone and clicked away.  These are chronological, incidentally.
I like how his face is on the vertical, although he's still disproportionately more on the forehand than using his back and butt.  Still, he is using his butt more than before.

Note how crooked his tail is--like his back.  Just like his hip angles to the right, his tail is tweaked to the right.  This isn't uncommon in Arabs, but it is uncommon to be to this degree.

I like this last shot--he looks to my Perpetual Noob eye more like a true hunter, versus the hooky-neck thing Arabs do (that I confess I am not a fan of).

Interesting going this direction--he seems to have more impulsion, but hell, I barely know what "impulsion" means, heh.  This is the side where the hip is dropped.  He seems to be falling in on his shoulder, or something.  Yeah, or something.

Mah handsome boy
Looooove this pic above--thus, the extra large sizing, heh.  His shoulder is freed up, he's going forward, he's relaxed (dig the sleepy eye), he's guhORgeous.

 Last pic.  He was getting a bit tired here, as you can probably see.  So, I switched some equipment around, got on him, and had a pleasant ride.

We started riding in this big main ring, but he was a bit too eager (this is the first time we've been in the ring since it opened up, and he wanted to RUNNNNN, not namby-pamby trot).  So, I took him over to the smallest ring, turned on my iPod, and got to work.

Briefly.  OUCH.  My recovering ankle let me know with painful stiffness it did not enjoy the cold and damp weather.  My flexibility was reduced, and then trotting about and trying to use my lower legs like I should, I realized--I have no lower leg.  Ouch.  Actually, beyond ouch, it was just...gone.  Apparently, Tril is not the only one with muscle loss. The legs could not maintain the work for more than one song or so (how I time things in the saddle), but at least I got them going.  I noted Tril was very dutiful--dude has a terrific work ethic--and the trot work with the Mickey Mouse approach to side reins seemed to click something in him, because he was more framed up as I rode him.  I pushed myself until my lower legs were on fire and wanted to quit, then (as is my method), I rested them and then posted the trot for just onnnnne more song.  It was just 30 minutes, but it was 30 painful minutes.

His work was over, my work was over, time to move on the the little gal. I came home and rested and spoke with my 6yro son, who has been the guest passenger in my friend's carts as one's pony and the other's Clydesdale pulls them.  He was immediately infatuated and wannnnnts toooo drriiiiiive.  I had at first thought about getting him riding lessons, but he repeatedly told me he wants to learn to drive first.  Since Tril is not a kid-appropriate horse, that's probably best anyway.  I gave it a few months, kept asking, he kept expressing interest, so I thought I'd look into it.

Except Firefly doesn't know how to drive.

But I do have a couple of driving-enabling-friends, heh heh.  Now, I know professionals need to be called in.  Green-on-green makes black and blue, whether in the saddle or pulling a cart, but I wanted to at least see if she'd take a bit and if the bridle and surcingle a friend loaned me would fit her.

So first, the bridle and bit.

"WTF is this crap?"
The bridle proved too big, with the bit in her mouth but not properly placed despite the cheekpieces being on the last hole.  She wasn't a fan of the bit, but didn't protest more than the mouth movements you see in the pic above.  I think the bit being so low in the mouth doesn't help.  But, she wore it and she didn't throw a fit. Off it came.

Time for the surcingle.
"Whatever.  Bring me food when we're done and I promise to continue not giving a crap."
Despite what it looks like in the photo because of her super shaggy self, it's a bit big on her.  Unlike the bridle, there is room on the straps to use a leather punch and add a couple more holes on it to tighten it a bit more.  I'd say it needs about two more holes.

I then walked her around in it, half expecting her to buck or kick or spin or otherwise show displeasure, but she--as seems to be her motto in life--did not give a crap.  

My friends suggested taking two extra lead ropes and running them from the side buckle of her halter through the surcingle and practice ground driving her a bit, with me using a third lead rope attached at the chin to encourage her forward when she was supposed to go.  We were all impressed that she listened and had a pretty good Whoa (which figures--the least movement the better for her).

"I'm tiring of this.  Why do you mock me so?"
She was very good, except she really, REALLY was distracted by all this green stuff we were having her walk all over at dinnertime.  She got a bit annoyed, but not aggressive. (One of my friends said, "She's wondering what the heck is going on, but is doing great!" I told her, "She's not wondering what the heck.  Firefly does not use such polite language.")

Of course, I had to give it a try.  I found myself perplexed by this whole steering thing--geez, you even hold the reins "upside-down" from what I'm used to--but it was fun.  One friend offered to let me practice with her driving-broke Clyde, and it looks like a driving clinic might be in our future.  Maybe put in a call to some driving trainers, too.

Oh, my mercy me.  

Not sure if this is going anywhere, but the journey has already been fun so far.


  1. Driving-enabling friends are good. My BO was driving-enabling to me, lent me their jog cart and boy, I was hooooked. It's turning out pretty durned fun to be sitting behind the Mitchster and just going with the flow. I can see why your son was infatuated with it.

    Cute cute cute mini, yessiree. She seems to take to that pretty easy, though you haven't really asked her to do anything yet, so she just might be humoring you. Having experienced friends will help a lot.

    In my case, I was the fairly green one. I'd driven a horse and a mini before, but not for a long time. Lucky for me, Mitch was experienced and our 4 months of ground driving was for my benefit, not his. You'll get the experience driving your friend's Clyde, I'm sure.

  2. Love these updates! :)
    as far as side reins go it depends on what type you have, typically they have the donut rings and a bungee side. Steffen always clips the bungee side to the girth (so you wrap the bungee side around the girth and clip it to whichever donut you prefer and works for your horse) then the non-bungee side clips directly to the bit.