Remember how I said Henry was getting chonky?
He is really really chonky. Like… heckin chonker status. Or maybe even Oh lawd he comin.
It’s been quite a while since he’s been this chonky. Not since I first got him and he was fresh off of one year of pasture rest. And, I mean, he’s still getting ridden 5 days a week, so it’s not due to lack of work. The rides are definitely not as hard as when he was Prelim fit, but it’s not like he’s totally idle or unfit. He’s eating less grain now than he ever has, which I’m pleased about (not just because his grain is $32 a bag but because the less grain I have to give them, the better). I think the real difference is the grass and the quality of his pasture. For July in Texas things are still very green, and I’m not sure that he’s ever had this much pasture that was this nice and this plentiful for such a good portion of the year. Good pasture isn’t that easy to come by in these parts.
He also seems really happy with is life in general. He is spoiled, every single person in his life is wrapped around his little hoof, and he is 110% catered to. Just the way he likes it! There have still been absolutely zero signs of any ulcer symptoms in the 9+ months since he’s moved out to this barn, and I’m really hoping we’re done with that now. Even his annual “all of my hair is gonna fall off in the summer” thing isn’t nearly as bad as usual.
He’s also just feeling really good in general. I think having a year off from competing and all that it entails (the extra fitness work, all the traveling, the mental pressure, etc) has been really good for him. He’s such a well behaved traveler that I think I do tend to forget how much he just internalizes that stress.
The temperatures have also been a bit more mild than usual so far, we’re just now starting to hit the triple digits. He still has his heat intolerance issues that we have to contend with, but even on hot days it hasn’t been enough to take the extreme sass out of him. He turns into a dolphin at least once every single ride. Sometimes he even adds some squealing for dramatic effect. And on Saturday I rode him over to the big property across the street for a canter and He Was A Nut. Just about pulled my arms right out of their sockets. There’s no doubt that he feels really good, despite his chonk status, which is what led me to his new nickname – The Spicy Meata-ball. He earned it on Friday when he decided that morphing into a dolphin a few strides before a jump was a great idea (it was not, although he did still manage to make it over the jump just fine, albeit with me yelling “UM HELLO COULD YOU JUST NOT???”) and he couldn’t walk without jigging because OMGJOMPIES.
I did body clip him to try to help him out with the heat a bit. I’ve gotten to where I do that every year, and it does seem to help. His coat isn’t particularly long but it’s dense, especially over his back/haunches where he already doesn’t sweat very well. I use a T-10 so it’s nice and short and that seems to get him through the summer.
And I think, since he’s feeling so good and mentally fresh, it’s probably time that we start doing some dressage again. I mean, we’ve still been doing flatwork obviously, but not as often and 1) it had been 5 months since I sat in my dressage saddle 2) it had been just as long if not longer since he’d had an actual bit in his mouth. So last week I rode in my dressage saddle, which didn’t feel as bad/foreign as I thought it might. Probably since I’d ridden in my bareback pad the day before (I really love that thing).
Then yesterday I put his actual bridle/bit back on him. Which he wasn’t a fan of. He glared at me like he was being abused and proceeded to chomp and squeak the bit through our entire hack. That’s… typical for him though. I’ll give him a couple more rides to get used to wearing it again before we really go to work. I’m pretty sure he thought he was retired from all that dressage business. Can we just do bareback and bitless “dressage” forever please? We’d both prefer that.
But, ya know… other than this rekindled dressage bullshit, I think he’s the happiest he’s ever been. That makes me happy too.