Henry is enjoying a bit of a more “feral” life these days. Well, I mean, he still gets ridden 5 days a week and has a beautiful turnout space and luxury stall accommodations and human slaves to do his bidding (because ROTTEN ANIMAL), but he’s not in the prime event horse shape he’s been for most of the last 4 or so years.
Because of his heat intolerance, Henry’s real “show season” is November-April. But he had the foot bruise from hell that took him out of commission for November/December, and then right when we were starting to get back in the groove, covid happened. So, ya know… we lost his whole season, really. Which I waited to feel sad about but really didn’t, because truth be told we were dialed up to 110% for the past couple years to make it to Prelim, and we did it, so stepping back and taking a bit of a deep breath was welcome for me.
Like I said, he’s still getting ridden but only about 5 days a week instead of 6 or 7 like before. And the conditioning rides are MUCH shorter/less structured. He’s also only been on a trailer twice so far this year, which is kind of unheard of for us. Usually we’re traveling at least 2-3 weekends a month during the cooler season. He’s fat and he’s sassy and he seems totally content with his current more relaxed lifestyle.
This is the first winter/spring since I’ve owned him where he didn’t do his ulcery gas colic thing a few times. This is also the first winter/spring since I’ve owned him where he easily kept his weight. In fact, I actually CUT BACK on his food over the winter. He’s eating less grain now than he ever has, and he’s still a little chonky. Clearly I think the break has done us both some good. It’s nice to exist in a pressure-free state for once.
Aside from his incredibly rockin’ dad bod, you can also see that his clipped “eventer tail” is pretty much all grown out. It’s also really sunbleached. This is the true sign that he’s on a break, because his tail hasn’t looked that feral since I got him. He’s wearing it like a symbol, and I’m content to let it be for now. There will be no two-week getaway to Coconino this summer (which is I think the only thing I’m really mourning about this lost season) so he won’t be setting foot in a show ring for a while still. I’m keeping his mane short though, because a ranch horse mane would be a step too far. Can’t have him thinking he’s retired or something.
The mowers came last week, so this past weekend I got back out in our jump field and set a course back up. We hadn’t jumped a course since… March? I thought the ground up there was still a teeny bit too soft on Saturday to jump, so after I set everything (which took me like 2 hours – setting jumps is stupid) I took Henry out back to let him gallop a bit instead. Which, I love Henry to bits but when he flips on his racehorse mode it’s SO funny. He legit gallops like a QH, kind of high-headed and belly low to the ground with really quick, relatively short strides. It’s a lot of flying legs. Bless him, he tries. He was absolutely delighted to gallop a little though, and I had to stop him before he was really mentally ready to stop (ok there, Dash for Cash, calm down). It’s been MONTHS since he’s really gotten to let out some speed and he greatly needed it.
On Sunday the jump field was drier so we went out and strung a couple courses together. Me trying to remember the right pace was a little struggle bus (the things I so quickly forget…), but Henry was really good. It makes me happy that he still clearly enjoys the jumping days a lot. He’s always strutting like a peacock when he’s done, like he’s really impressed with himself.
I’ve finally got a decent enough collection of jumps to make a real course. Well, I really need a couple more sets of standards so I can throw in some more oxers, and I’d like to make a couple flower boxes and brush rails and a skinny chevron, but it’s a good start. It’s a totally workable space where we can do everything we need. I do have to get a little creative with dodging the trees/branches but I love having them there. It’s nice to have a shady end and they look so pretty. Although I did fail at dodging one yesterday, just nipping the bottom edge of a branch, and suffered a shirt casualty.
In a way it feels like there’s not really a lot to report with Henry here on the blog these days. Nothing newsworthy is happening. We’re just kind of doing what we do. We’re “old friends” by this point in our relationship, and aside from being sassy and pretending to spook at everything (which luckily I find entertaining), he’s a steady and reliable guy. Well.. unless you haven’t seen Henry eat an Oatmeal Cream Pie yet… that is definitely newsworthy.
It’s really nice to have one like this though when you’ve also got a 3yo where literally EVERYTHING is newsworthy. Henry might not get talked about as much here right now, but make no mistake, he is still the glue holding everything together and he’s still doing his Henry thing. A little fatter, a little shaggier, but super happy none-the-less.