Friday, April 19, 2013

Deluge, Good Horse Awards and New Farrier

Wednesday and Wednesday night we had about 4" of rain - truely amazing amounts of water.  There's a lot of flooding, and there were many road closures in our area on Thursday.  The horses did go to turnout on Wednesday, but came in a bit early after an episode of hail made them run around like crazy things, despite the mud.  Fortunately no horses were injured.  Then on Thursday, all the horses stayed in the barns because the two turnout pastures were flooded - there's normally a small stream at the middle of each pasture, and the stream had turned into a 50-foot wide torrent of water.  Severe weather was also expected, but that passed us by and it didn't rain all that much more, although areas nearby did get more rain - some areas had over 8" by the time the storm was over.

A lot of riding got done despite the weather.  On Thursday morning, I rode all three horses, since they were stuck inside with no way to move.  I had also ridden Red on Wednesday afternoon - during a thunderstorm, no less - he paid not the slightest attention to the heavy rain noises or the thunder, which was nearby and not directly overhead.  My Thursday morning ride on Dawn was during a rainstorm - she was just fine, very relaxed and responsive, despite her being in raging heat and the noise from the roof.  Red and I then had an excellent ride - he coped very well with equipment and people coming and going - the hay wagon, which he'd never really seen before, was in the arena with us for part of our ride.  Pie and I had a very nice ride, during which the guys were digging up the edges of the arena with shovels to redistribute the packed down damp footing - they were hacking away, and chopping and pounding.  Pie was nervous about this, but was perfectly behaved - we did semicircles and the long side away from the work - for Pie he was unusually forward - part of that was his upness and part was my work this week on not nagging with my leg but making him responsible for forward.  (My nagging with my leg had become a bad habit, and helped make it hard for him to distinguish between a forward cue and an "over" cue - I'm trying now not to use my leg at all for forward, and to go immediately to a secondary cue - tap with dressage whip - if he doesn't move forward instantly and maintain the forward as we go.)

I did manage to get my three horses out into small paddocks for a couple of hours of outside time.

Then, in the afternoon, I rode Red again - he demanded it.  He was pretty upset about being locked inside again and very vocal about it, too.  He screamed or nickered at me every time he saw or heard me in the barn aisle.  Our ride was outstanding - his trot and canter work was forward and soft, and he showed no signs of fatigue in the second ride of the day.

Then, this morning we had the new farrier coming for our first real trims - he'd looked them over 6 weeks ago but didn't do anything except slightly rasp one edge of one of Red's hind feet - they were that short after 3 weeks since their last trim by my old farrier.  So my three horses had to stay in their stalls again, this time when all the other horses had gone to turnout - very upsetting.  My plan was to get to the barn early and ride Red until the farrier was ready for him, in hopes of taking off some of the edge - there were three horses to trim before my three.

Red was very on edge - he was pacing in his stall, pawing and calling constantly.  I got him dressed for riding and we went to the arena.  Stalls in our barn were being cleaned, and the huge spreader and big tractor were parked in the arena at our end - this was yet another new sight for Red.  Red and I passed close by on our way to the mounting block.  We just got on with our ride as if nothing was different and he was amazing.  All this time, the wind was howling, the roof was buzzing, the metal arena doors were banging - it was much colder and very windy. We mostly did large circles at one end of the ring, and after our walk warm up, we did quite a bit of very nice trot and canter work.  He stayed soft and responsive throughout, even when Pie called to him from the barn and he answered - we just kept right on working.  As the guys were cleaning stalls, they would periodically drag the large cans of manure out to the spreader, making loud scraping noises.  He was quite startled the first time, but all we did was turn to face the sound so he could look at what was happening.  He watched, and we did that some more times - by the end of our ride he was trotting and cantering around regardless of the noise.

The farrier came to let us know we were ready, and I undressed Red and all three horses got their trims.  I was very pleased with the new farrier - in addition to being a nice guy, he's very knowledgeable.  Other than Pie, who needed a bit of a trim - the farrier again complemented his very good feet - Red and Dawn needed very little in the way of trimming - just a little bit of shaping - their feet wear between trims.  All three horses were very well-behaved and walked away sound on the concrete.  Everyone finally got to go to turnout, and all three wanted to gallop off but were careful until they crossed the stream area.  Red sniffed the water, then leapt over the stream and galloped away off up the hill.  Pie stopped for a brief drink at the water tank, then took another drink from the stream, then galloped away up the hill with many large bucks.  Dawn also galloped off, playing as she went - shaking her head from side to side and doing flying lead changes.

We were all very happy, despite the wind and snow (!) showers, and all three of my horses get good horse awards.

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