Conditioning the excitable horse
Trying to condition Moe is an exercise in patience. Wide open spaces kind of break his brain, but no one wants to do trot sets in an arena!
While Moe is the hands-down favorite of my two horses, I usually prefer hacking Gina. She’s happy to putz along on a loose rein at any gait, and only puts on the speed when you ask for it. (That’s why she was my chosen mount for Two-Pointober!) Moe is basically the opposite of Gina: he’s anxious and ready to explode into his best racehorse gallop (which, by the way, was only good enough for last place in his first and only race). He isn’t mean about it- he’s just so excited that he can’t keep it together.
Since Moe does a lot of dressage work in his lessons throughout the week, I’ve been trying to add to his cardiovascular fitness by hacking him on our recent rides. (The lesson kids are afraid to take him in the field. How do I have two horses who terrorize children?) He jigs and tosses his head while we’re walking; I practice half-halts and zen while trying to persuade him to not piaffe. Trotting brings opportunities to practice circles and figure-8s; trying to trot in a straight line results in lots of flailing. Cantering is really more like galloping; Moe’s exuberance knows no bounds. He never seems happier than when flying across a field with his tiny ears pricked forward. Truthfully, I’m never happier, either.
When we’re finished with our hack, Moe always seems proud of himself and happy. His cheerful expression makes all the exasperated half-halts and circles totally worth it.