Despite being pretty busy these past couple weeks, I’ve managed to fit in a good amount of saddle time. Hillary was gone for the holidays so I had both Henry and Grace to ride, and usually ended up riding both of them on my lunch break.
Despite the crazy temperature swings we didn’t get much rain, which is kind of a double-edged sword. At this point we need it for the grass, things are looking a bit brown for this time of year, but it did mean that there was no interruption to any of my riding time. It was also nice to spend some time behind my favorite little fuzzy bay ears again.
One day I didn’t have enough time to ride them both so I figured I’d see if Grace ponied. And naturally I’m lazy so I just stuck a bareback pad on Henry. For as big of a jerk as he can be to other horses in the pasture, he’s usually pretty business-like when it comes to ponying duty, and after a couple laps around the courtyard it definitely seemed like Grace was familiar with the concept. We set off with no issue and I was able to walk and trot them both up the little hills in the back.
I rode in Hillary’s saddle a few more times while she was gone too but honestly being able to buy a new saddle isn’t in the cards for me for… quite a while probably, so I just had to quit riding in it. It was making me too sad about all the struggles I have in my own saddle that I didn’t in hers. Is what it is for a while I guess! It’s good to know where to start looking whenever I do finally end up buying something else though.
Hillary was back before New Years, and we were able to get rides in on NYE as well as New Years Day. On NYE we just wanted to do something fun, so we went out in the back on the hacking path and did a long walk and then galloped around videoing each other like a couple of 12 year olds for a while. It was deeply entertaining, and a nice way to cap off the year just doing something purely fun with the horses. Henry may or may not have run off with Hillary and tried to decapitate her on a tree. That’s how you know he loves you.
In all seriousness, it’s nice to see him feeling good though. He’s such a cheeky horse, I think he’s having as much fun with Hillary as she is with him. He’s got her completely wrapped around his little hoof, milking tons of cookies out of her, and whenever he feels like she’s mastered something well enough, you can see his eyes light up as he tries his best to do something “naughty”. Which is really never that naughty… no one tell him. When it matters, he’s all business, but he also likes to pull out his arsenal of cheeky things to keep her on her toes sometimes.
On New Years we did some flatwork. Grace is getting better and better, feeling stronger and a little more fit as we go along. She’s been out of regular work for a long time so I always have to be mindful not to push it too much or make her tired, but I can feel a difference in her over the past month. She’s still convinced there are horse murderers in all the bushes and trees (and sometimes in the arena letters) but she’s got a lot of “try” in her so that makes it fun no matter what we’re doing. To me I think she rides more like a thoroughbred, at least in the brain, which IMO is a compliment.
This week Hillary’s been focused on riding Henry in a bit, which is a lot different, less fun, and harder than riding him bitless. He carries a lot more tension and requires a thoughtful, tactful ride… I swear he’s a million times easier to jump than he is to flat, and a million times easier to ride bitless than in a bit. She’s figuring out his buttons though, and how to get him through the tension. Hopefully the weather cooperates over the next month or two and she can get him to a show. I think he’d be delighted to show her just how amazing he is.
I’ve also been jumping Grace a bit more. Not a lot, usually just a few small jumps here and there, but she’s definitely really fun to jump. I’ve figured her out a bit more as far as what kind of ride she seems to prefer. I did give up on keeping her in front shoes though, she pulled two in two weeks and had another one halfway off by the time the farrier came for our regular 5 week appointment, so I had him just take them off. I tried. At this point I think she’ll do more damage pulling shoes off and possibly taking chunks of foot with it. So far she seems to be doing ok without the shoes, not quite as good as she was with them, but good enough, and I’ve been putting stuff on her feet, so… we’ll see. I think it’ll be fine though.
That pretty much brings us up to date on what the horses have been up to I think. We’re hoping to be able to go XC schooling this weekend but it looks like its supposed to rain Saturday, so we’ll see how the ground ends up. If not this weekend then soon!