Choosing Happiness, Starring Drew the Colt

So far, the weekend hasn’t gone as planned. I woke up bright and early this morning to get Apache all ready to finally get to his training, but there’s no trailer here. And I thought we were going to all be going to the Steak Stein and Wine event in Cameron today, but Lee doesn’t feel well, and there’s no one to go with. Am I upset? Nope. I have contingency plans, and am having a lovely day!

I’m all saddled up, but not being ridden yet.

I just left Apache in the round pen after I groomed him, where he was happy to nosh away at the grass and crow poison in there (I think he actually avoids the flowers). His saddle and stuff was ready, if the trailer had arrived. Meanwhile, I got myself into my nice, comfy car and drove over to the training place, where I proceeded to have a great time!

I’m fine. I’ll just walk myself over my poles and get in shape.

I enjoyed watching Drew get groomed and saddled, but the highlight was getting his feet cleaned. He picked up his back feet! Then he stretched them out to get them in better shape! He’s been improving consistently since they started working with him.

The trainer says he has just gotten to the point where he is in good enough shape to be ridden. He had to have a lot of work done to his back muscles, which were all confused, as well as a lot on his haunches, especially on the right side, which I knew was at least part of his problem.

Look at that back right leg moving like it should move!

He’s getting bodywork monthly, and that is helping. I can see how much muscle he has put on. He is working hard (and I think saying WTF about that), but learning so quickly. The trainer says nothing he does wrong is out of malice; it’s more that he doesn’t understand what he’s being asked, or he’s not quite able to do things yet. I’m really proud to have such a good learner with a willing disposition to work with!

Not cantering here.

Drew is way better at the ground work. It turns out the horrible noise his sheath always made when he was running fast was from having his back all tense. Now, when he isn’t tense, it doesn’t make any noise at all. It’s convenient that geldings have this handy alarm system. You just have to look at mares. I was really astonished at how he responded to very subtle cues. It turns out he does not need big corrections or anything like that. All you have to do to get him to trot is to life the rope and crop, and he will stop when you turn sideways. He also canters on command.

His cantering is a work in progress, because his back was so messed up that his front legs and his back legs were not coordinated. He is learning to start off on the correct “lead” (which I am not great with yet, but will be). It’s obvious he’s making progress and trying to figure it out.

I’m sure he’s having fun.

What else can Drew do? Well, to build up those back leg muscles, he’s jumping over an obstacle while going in circles. He apparently doesn’t like it, but he does great.

Hill backing.

He is also practicing going up hills backward (it’s a small hill they got installed in the training pen, very cool) and going over the hill while running in circles and not zooming down. I was told he is making huge strides with this. All of it is building the muscles he needs for being ridden.

Backing uphill.

Something I felt good about was confirmation that Drew was born in the fall. He is three years old, but NOT three and a half, judging from his teeth. I thought he was younger than he was made out to be.

This is more practice for his legs, and for getting on and off trailers. Now that his legs feel better, he does it fine.

The most fun thing I got to do this morning was practice giving Drew the subtle commands to walk, trot, and stop. I did pretty well, and he paid good attention to me. I was just beaming when it was all done, and the trainer was, too. She is so happy with how both Drew and I are doing!

I’m doing it. Go me.

And oh yes, she is training him not to rush at you at feeding time. This will be so good. I saw how she is doing it, so I will work on the other horses to see how well I can get them to act.

A moment of not cooperating.

One more thing I learned to do was some releases on his head. I learned three different ways to relax him, all of which were easy. He seems so happy when this is done. It’s a good reward for all his hard work!

I like this thumb poking into my head thing.

I tried the releases on Apache. He liked two of them, but not the third. He seems to have something going on with his head, anyway. Or he hurt his foot jumping over poles yesterday.

So, I had a great morning, then I came home and shoveled a lot of horse poop. Lee said he wasn’t feeling well, so we’re staying home today–he did tell the lady he was working with that he wasn’t coming, so she wouldn’t be looking for him all day!

Here’s Drew going in circles with the slight hill in them. He looks relaxed.

I’ll just hang out and see what the rest of the day brings and whether we do what we’d planned to do tomorrow, which was go to Austin and get some of my stuff. That can be done without the trailer, thankfully, but I want Lee to feel okay. Oddly enough, I feel fine other than sore arms from my vaccinations yesterday. You just never know!

I’m ready to enjoy the moment, and I hope you are, too!

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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