The past few days have been really great for Smokey and me.
After his tooth removal on Thursday, I decided to give him Friday to recover. On Saturday morning, I proudly tacked him up in his bareback pad (which he no longer even flinches about) and front splint boots and longed him for quite a while in the big arena. He did really well, except for the whole cantering business. He also did some ground poles like a champ.
I was so proud of him and totally enthralled with his adorable matching boots and pad. That was totally coincidental, too. The boots were a garage sale find and then pad was the only one from Hamp’s that I thought was worth my money. Funny how things work out.
These are from Sunday, but show this all perfectly:
As an update on his big leg wound, it’s nearly gone. I haven’t taken a picture of it since because he’s learning to pick up his back feet, which tends to happen by accident now, so I don’t want to get my phone up in there and get walloped while I take a picture of his almost non-existent wound now. The hair has even grown back over most of it at this point. Suffice it to say, I’m pretty happy with how he’s been healing. UPDATE: I just noticed that in the slideshow above, Jenn got a picture of the inside of his right hind leg (Back boots picture) and you can see what is left of the wound. Not much, to say the least!
On Sunday, the fabulous Jenn came out to photo-document Smokey’s adorableness. She really captured some great shots of him this time. Maybe he was just feeling photogenic. Either way, I was pretty excited. I managed to put boots on all four legs without getting kicked. Smokey actually didn’t react much at first to the back boots, but after a few minutes picked up both feet and just acted like he had stepped in dog poop with each, and then never gave them a second thought. What an old pro.
I strapped on the bareback pad, which is going to be a staple of our longeing routine now to get him used to having something strapped to him, and we were off to the big arena.
I longed him both directions for a while and then set up some ground poles to get him to pay attention more. He did a really nice job picking up his feet and finding a rhythm through them. He’s got pretty good balance and awareness of his leg movement, so I was pleased.
This worked for a while; then he stopped paying attention. This is what happened when he stopped paying attention:
Side note: this is one of the most aptly named videos of all time.
We laughed about this heartily while Smokey acted embarrassed. He was totally fine, by the way. No injuries other than his bruised ego. I gave him plenty of hugs and scratches and then made him do it again. This time he didn’t end up with his face in the dirt.
Jenn took tons of pictures that are just STUNNING. You can check out the album here. See how cute my little man really is!
Last night, I went out to the barn with the intention of riding Smokey at least more than we have before. While I’m not a fan of taking steps backwards, sometimes you need to, so I re-set the round pen so that I could hop on him with a safety net should he decide he was suddenly a cross hybrid Seabiscuit and bucking bronc. He wasn’t. I longed him a little bit and got him a little focused and then hopped right up on him. We walked around quite a bit and we’re both getting used to each other in the riding format. I fed him a carrot from the mounted position which may or may not have been a terrible idea. Now he likes to turn around, almost falling over, and try to get carrots when he thinks he’s done something well. You’re funny, pony. Jenn says we’re just working on his flexibility. I think he’s plenty flexible enough right now. We’ll have to work on this.
Either way, I was fairly impressed with his understanding of “go” and “stop” from the mounted cues I gave him. He would walk off most of the time when I clicked to him and would generally stop when I said whoa and pulled on his face. A note to myself from this: I need to be less handsy. He doesn’t like me pulling his face in the direction that I want him to go, and I need to rely more on my legs to show him what I want. He both responds better to these and likes them better. Same with the “whoa:” I need to learn to sit deeper and stop pulling on his face for that, as well. I was happy that my mom got to see me on him for one of our first true rides last night. He’s come so far and isn’t the “wild horse” we all thought he might be. At least not yet (knock on wood). He just takes time to learn things and I’m happy that he’s not burnt out or resistant to anything I throw at him (literally and figuratively).
All in all, I probably rode him for about 10-15 minutes last night. That’s a heck of a lot more riding time than I’ve had in a while and more than he’s ever had in one sitting. He really didn’t balk at the length of time, so I’m sure that come Thursday I’ll be sitting on him for as long as my legs can tolerate it. Very exciting things happening with my pony right now! I can’t wait to really be riding and start working on the things that bring me so much joy in the saddle!