Winter finally feels like it has properly arrived. Up until this second week in November it has felt fairly mild given the time of year. Then the snow arrived! I have mixed feelings about snow. It is beautiful. It coats the world in purity and soft whiteness with a silencing effect that muffles and dulls all the sounds of chaos in a 21st century world we live in. However, in practicality; it is very cold. It is slippy. It belongs on mountains ( I am also an avid skier), not around my horses and their steel horseshoes.
The horses get turned out regardless with piles of hay to eat, as long as they have their thick heavyweight rugs on, they aren’t fussed like us humans. They have no muscle below their hocks/knees so are relatively unaffected my temperature in the same way we are standing in snow all day.
I still am not quite back riding after my small operation last week. I tried getting on Storm 2 days ago in an attempt to sort of put up with any pain. I went too soon. I suffered for it during and after. Luckily Storm is such a good and genuine pony in so many ways . that he doesn’t get too upset by me half hanging off the saddle trying to find a level of comfort. Frustratingly it’s going to be a few more days yet I feel.
This has given me ample time to assess and get to building on foundations of a relationship with Jazz. I have lunged him many times more and just today played around with some very loose side reins. Now, here I would like to point out that I am by no means in the way of thinking that gadgets and gizmos are any kind of quick fix on any horse and nor was I intending to use them as such. Jazz has been lucky enough to have had a really wonderful start to life and he already understands and is submissive (though I really don’t like that word when applied to horses; it seems to me that it implies force is used), to the bit. He is obedient and has a beautifully soft mouth like a butterfly. So, back to my point, we played around with side reins to see if he would work his body in a better shape rather than run round getting distracted from time to time (as is his babyish nature, but something I would like to phase out). We only used them for 10 minutes or so and I tend not to keep him circling or lunging in general for more than 20 minutes. There is no need to drill a young horse.
With this circling/lunging I am encouraging him to turn in to me often. He is rewarded for doing so with a small treat, a stroke and a pause. The aim is not really physical exercise but more to build on that relationship. See how he is responsive to pressure and release, see how he responds to my body positions and how attentive he is to me. Watch to see how long he keeps his focus on me. Impressively, he already keeps his focus on me for longer and is more attuned to what I am asking him. At this stage it is all basics. Vocal aids for transitions through the paces, body language asking him to turn in, picking up on body cues to change pace too. To me, in a few short days, 6 days actually.. he has become receptive to me. Not massively, but to a degree that was not there on day 1.
Last but not least, little Dice has been on the back-burner with me not riding. He has had a week off riding and I haven’t really lunged him as he doesn’t like it much (LBE hate repetitive circling!) but at his age, I don’t mind if he has a little extra time off physical work than the other 2 as long as his behaviour doesn’t become ‘naughty’.
Hopefully the snow will melt and then we can get out on the roads when I am back riding as I believe road work is important for all 3 horses. I may try riding again tomorrow but I still feel it will maybe be a little soon. I might have a sit and if it isn’t right dismount and suck it up for another few days.
Photos of the last few days.
There is the better ‘Then and Now’ of Jazz, as promised (and the title picture). I’ll keep these to track his progress from Baby Horse to Event Horse.
Then a distant picture of Jazzy being turned out with his new friends for the first time. He is the light blue bottom and Storm is the nearest horse. These are the Gentle Boys, Dice isn’t there, Dice goes out with the Naughty Boys who are much more rough and tumble. He likes it there, he can have more fun and would be bored by these guys who are much softer and quieter. Perfect for nervous Storm and submissive Jazzy.
And the bottom picture is a very bored Dice in the round pen asking if we can PLEASE leave and do something else :’D He does make me laugh!