It’s been a hot minute since I updated everyone on Smokey and I progress. Since I last wrote, we have had two lessons with the exceptional Elisa Wallace and have learned a whole lot. We’ve also done a lot of riding and a lot of shedding and even some clipping.
How pretty is his pasture? He’s living like a king
First up, a lesson update: The first lesson with Elisa was a monumental testament to my weenie-ness. Smokey rode like a normal horse for her and fell to bits once I hopped on. We had a long talk about my confidence bleeding over into him, and since I was severely lacking in that, he was pretty uncomfortable that I knew what I was doing and therefore was worth listening to. While I was on him, he spent the majority of the time neighing at his friends who were out in the pasture and decidedly ignoring me. We did make some progress, though. We’re working on trotting a decent circle, and as Elisa likes to remind me, this is a REALLY green horse and he’s actually coming along pretty well. I need to focus on the little wins each time we ride, rather than the overall “oh my gosh, this horse is never going to be just a pleasure to ride” that I keep focusing on.
Our second lesson expounded on the first, but I was somewhat more capable of supporting both Smokey and myself. Elisa did a really tough warm up on the little guy before we both hopped on. He was a bit of a nutjob and seemed a bit wound up in general that day, so it was for the best that he was a bit worn out by the time we got on. Elisa got on him first to warm him up more and we tried the bosal I was so kindly gifted on him. It was interesting – his headset was much improved and he seemed to carry himself a little more round, but was unresponsive to it until it was worth overreacting to. He would ignore the cues to back up until it was irritating enough to rear a little every time, so we switched back to the Myler snaffle he’s been going in recently and solved that in a jiffy. I think the bosal will be a useful tool once he’s a little less green and focused more on his in-arena training rather than spacing out like an astronaut. All in all, it was a good learning day. He and I did a few decent circles and we’re starting to work together instead of against each other while I’m riding.
I didn’t take pictures during my lesson, save for this one. I was busy learning. That’s Elisa on him in the corner.
Elisa also brought her trailer to pick up the panels she bought form me, so we got to load the gray monster up in there a few times. He was delighted to find some alfalfa in the trailer once he was in and wasn’t terribly keen on hopping back out after he found that. He was hesitant to climb right in at first, but didn’t’ take too much coaxing. He spooked himself once and came flying back out backwards, but nothing terribly dramatic and was happy to oblige our ask to get him back up on the trailer and back to the tasty hay that awaited him. Several times, he left a front leg up on the trailer after stepping off backwards as if to say “But you guys, there’s still hay in there!” He’s a mess. But at least he gets on the trailer nowadays!
On my own, I have been making slow, but steady, progress with our riding. I try to end each one of our rides with some kind of win. He was being a turd most recently this past weekend and I hopped off and lounged him again (more aggressively) and he settled in right away. It’s almost like I have to be a little mad at him to keep him in line. We worked on trotting circles and figure eights and ended our ride with a couple great stops. As Elisa pointed out, he has a teeny tiny sliding stop in him already. I just have to find it myself.
Outside of the arena, I made an executive decision that Smokey’s goat-like chin hair needed to go. So I clipped it. I’m not a professional clipper, so it went pretty horribly, but he was a champ about the whole thing. He wasn’t too fazed by the clippers and really only ducked them when I tried to cram them in his ears with no warning. I’m the worst, just ask him. I did get a couple wild ear hairs cut so he doesn’t look like some kind of tentacle monster is trying to crawl out of them anymore. But they’re still fuzzy so they stay warm. His chin looks like a horse again, and I’m super proud. No more goatee and no more goat-face. This all got me in the mood to take the grossness off the bottom of his tail, so I chopped about the last three inches off it. Lo and behold, he actually looks like a well-kept horse all of a sudden. It’s the little things, you guys.
Look at that handsome face!
In other grooming news, Smokey is about half the horse he was three weeks ago. I’ve spent a million hours using ever y shedding tool I can find (it’s my new full time job). I read on a forum recently that SleekEZ are essential to grooms in springtime, so I swung by the local [overpriced] tack shop and picked one up. It was worth every penny! After going over his whole body with it, the traditional shedding blade I had been using didn’t pull a single hair off him. It’s also amazing for his legs and armpits, which are the bane of my existence. It’s where 95% of their winter coat resides, I’m convinced. He’s REALLY tired of standing there while mom makes Smokeyflakes all over the barn and would much rather hang out with his friends, but when I get to his ears and face, he just loves every second. He’s a ham for a good ear scratch and really even enjoys his forelock brushed. He’s so strange.
Speaking of how strange he is. I got a text this morning saying he had just been chasing a goose across the pasture at full speed. The picture below was attached. That’s him. Full gallop. Other horses judging. Goose flying.
I love that little weirdo.