Apparently, the secret to rejuvenating your senior horse is a three step process:
- Take horse foxhunting
- Give horse a month off
- Put front shoes on horse
Gina and I went for a hard-work dressage ride yesterday; it was sunny and 55, so I opted to ride in the freshly dragged outdoor arena with a friend and her very cute Haffie gelding. Gina was raring to go. She marched around the arena in the biggest, most powerful walk I’ve ever felt her perform. It was hard to get her to focus and relax, though; she was unsteady in the contact and felt unusually stiff in her jaw and poll.
Several circles, shoulder-ins, and leg yields later, we were ready to trot. Gina zoomed off like a horse possessed; maybe she was channeling her inner harness racer? More circles, leg yields, and spiral in/out exercises ensued. We had some really nice moments of powerful, pushing trot- those moments make me really excited for show season! The rest of the trot work was kind of a mess, though. Since last year’s lesson with Claudia Misner, I’ve been working hard on being more aware of my body position- especially my hands. Gina still tries to cheat me by avoiding the outside rein and gets a little cranky when I insist she pays attention. I figure I’m doing it right when I feel her twitch her tail angrily!
We attempted a little cantering, which was nearly disastrous. I haven’t bothered to remove my small, nubby spurs from my boots going from Moe to Gina; she doesn’t need them and I am competent enough to keep them away from her sides. Except for yesterday, apparently. After we had some consistently nice trot work, I asked for the canter. Gina leaped forward, then lurched right as she spooked at her shadow/the wind/a pile of poles/a butterfly flapping its wings in Australia/who knows. I gripped with my legs, poking her with my right spur. Gina was not pleased and performed some hybrid half-pass/crow hop left, then bolted toward the barn. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how the zig zag movement is supposed to go, you guys.
Gina never really calmed down after that, and we finished with some quiet trot circles in the indoor arena. Afterwards, I pulled her mane, rubbed her down with Sore No-More, and slathered her tail with The Herbal Horse’s Healthy Hair.
I really think hunting and time off were good for both Gina’s body and mind. She’s more energetic and alert than she has been in ages; I think our dressage will get back up to its usual level as we continue to work. I’m optimistic that our scores will be decent if we can keep this level of energy in the ring!