Its almost seven a.m. and I need to get up and get moving. The farrier's coming in two hours and then the vet, and if the girls get the all clear, I can get them vaccinated and wormed. The oldest of my guest horses is the slowest gaining weight. Getting her teeth floated helped, but I'm hoping that once I can worm her we'll turn the final corner and start seeing some roundness to her.
I've been sitting in bed watching Gizmo chew on Roscoe's ears. He does this weird thing where he'll start chewing on the end of one long floppy ear, and then he gradually pulls it all the way in so he's got a mouthful of ear which he masticates with eyes half closed, clearly enjoying it. After chewing blissfully for a few seconds he spits it out and starts all over again. By the time he's done (or I speak sharply at him to stop), Roscoe's ear is absolustely soggy with Chihuahua saliva. He patiently lies there the whole time Gizzy's chewing on him. I can't tell if he really likes it or simply tolerates it. Dogs are simply unknowable at times.
SG comes home today.
Yes, it was a surprise. He picked up a cold that turned into a bronchial infection the last week or more of the job he was working. He'd been to the doctor and gotten antibiotics and such, but as he was packing to head to the next job, he still wasn't feeling right. He went back to the doctor and his blood pressure was really high, which is worrisome. But the doctor wasn't comfortable with him driving 2500 miles to work six twelve hour days a week for several weeks, so we talked it over and he made the decision to come home. Fortunately he may still be able to go to the next job on a delayed basis, so if he gets the all-clear from his doctor here, it won't be a complete wash. He'll get the work AND I get a conjugal visit. We all win!
I've been on vacation most of the week with the kids on spring break. I've managed to do at least a few of the tasks I was hoping to accomplish, which means my house and yard have begun to approach "acceptable" status. They'd look even better, but I wisely chose to use as many days as possible this week to ride Bugs.
Its hard to put into words just how satisfying its been to ride him. He is progressing so nicely right now. Mentally he's become a more reliable and mature fellow. Physically he is beginning to understand and respond to my requests to collect and round his back. As he begins to collect and round for longer and longer segments, the pleasure of being the person on his back becomes indescribable. There is something intensely pleasurable about riding a horse who is completely collected. His face is at the vertical, he's flexed at the poll and his neck is nicely arched. His feet are underneath him and the action at his knees and hocks becomes more obvious. If you're watching him from the ground you can hardly take your eyes from him because he just looks so great, and if you're lucky enough to be riding him, you can't keep the grin off your face because you know he feels and looks spectacular. My cheeks are actually sore from the grinning this week.
We also worked on some trail obstacles in preparation for our riding clinic tomorrow. Michelle dragged out some old tractor tires and we took the black plastic from her garden and made a "black hole of death" obstacle. Bugs negotiates the tires quite well, and even when he's stepped on the side of a tire and it flipped up and banged him in the hocks he did not get perturbed. I can run him through them on the ground or on his back and he's a tire-crossing demon. The black tarp of death is an entirely different matter. He's pretty sure its going to kill him. We made great progress with it, and yesterday I had him standing on the tarp while I flipped and rattled the edges of it. He didn't like it much, but he stayed put.
To have a good trail horse, you've got to get two things to happen. You have to get your horse to trust you enough that he believes you will never ask him to do something that will get him killed. He is a prey animal, and as such is highly reactive to unfamiliar stimuli. Things that flutter or move can be terrifying. Water looks like its a huge hole he could fall into. A level headed horse who doesn't spook easily is wonderful to have, but more often than not a horse is not born that way, you need to help him learn to be that way.
It is also a lot of fun to torture your horse when you think he's being unreasonably sensitive.
Chicks arrived this week. I've got three silver-laced Wyandottes, one Rhode Island Red, and four tiny little yellow banties. Four layers and four pets. They're so cute and fluffy, we love to hold them and listen to them chirp. If you hold one long enough it will fall asleep on your hand, and its almost unbearably cute. They are doing much to satisfy my baby cravings.
Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate it this weekend, happy Spring and happy Eoster to those of you who don't. Spring reminds me that life is a continual opportunity for renewal and redemption. This week has certainly felt that way.