Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mornings with Jezabelle

Kiddo enjoys a snack from last years hay, moved to the end of the arena to make way for this years fresh hay.

I have been put under strict orders by my hubby to sell or re-home the horses. I haven't ridden much. Kiddo my horse is 19 years old and he deserves a good retirement with lots of pampering. He just wants to plod around with kids on his back at a poky walk. I can't sell him. He's just too old. Jezabelle, on the other hand, is still in her prime. However since she hasn't been ridden much she is tubby and out of shape, and picked up a few annoying habits such as pulling on the reins, and falling to the inside of a circle. So I went back to square one with her, lunging her in side-reins and then riding her afterwards. When you lunge a horse, you put them in side-reins, tack them up and let them work in a circle without a rider. You the lunger, have the horse on a lunge line a and stand in the center of the circle. This way the horse regains balance and form without having a rider aboard, nor do they have a pair of hands to pull against, if they pull they are merely pulling themselves.

Well little Jezabelle is one sharp cookie. She figured this out after only a few days and stopped pulling. At least for the most part. When a horse tries to run off on you it usually means one of two things:
A wolf is pursuing and going to eat them or they have no self carriage or balance and are trying to avoid this discomfort!
Since there is no wolf in my indoor riding arena we can assume it is the latter.
After lunging and riding for a few weeks my little pony is really coming along nicely and has lost a few pounds. The poor girl is a lot like the rest of us in middle age, weight comes on instantly but falls off at a snail's pace!
She is cantering wonderfully, responding to half halts, and has stopped pulling. Her self carriage is returning. She walks trots canters, slows gait and halts with voice commands from the ground or the saddle.
I look forward to spending my time with her in the morning. I take cut up pieces of apple for bribery. Or carrots. And of course sugar cubes. The plan is to get her weight down another 50 pounds and start lunging her over small jumps without a rider for a while, then start her jumping under saddle. I used to jump her 2 feet. I am looking forward to this. I am not, however, looking forward to mornings without her.
Notice the snack hanging out of one side of her mouth, swiped from the hay pallets!

I return to college full time in the fall to work towards my teaching certificate. This is the reasoning behind all this, as I will have less time and certainly less money to put towards the horses upkeep. Hay is really expensive. Last year it was 4.50 a bale. This year it was a little better, being 4.00 a bale. This is just the bare minimum of what is needed. Horses need grain. The cost of it has soared from $7 bucks a bag to $13. You also need salt blocks, farrier, fly spray, yearly teeth floating, vaccinations, Coggin's test and you have to be there every day! There are no vacations from horses. But I love looking out the window and seeing my beloved horses. I love the smell of horses. I love the sound of horses, the hoof beats, the whinnies, but best of all the soft nickers they give you as a greeting, it's like a cat purr.
Pure happiness.

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