Over the weekend I watched one of my dearest friends commit a lifetime to her best friend in a wedding that I will remember for years. Later, I spent an afternoon rediscovering my creativity, as I prepared for a traditional holiday event in our town - The Polar Express.
For the purposes of this blog, however, I was thrilled to have some much needed, and productive horse time on Friday and Saturday. Recently, I realized just how horrendous Jean-Luc's body position is. He is about as strong as a new born kitten in his hind end and stiffer than a rock.
Jean-Luc's neck is held so high and tight that even my BM noted how crazy he can look sometimes. "When he turns he doesn't even tip his nose in the slightest," she said as we reminisced about our days, watching the sun set around her newly finished gas and stone campfire.
Friday evening was glorious. After learning a bit more about what it means to be "behind the bit", "on the bit", and how surcingles work to correct body position through strengthening pinpointed areas on a horse, I felt pretty prepared for my next few sessions with Jean-Luc.
When I pulled into the barn Jean-Luc actually came running. This is only the second time that has EVER happened and man did it feel good.
"I don't know what you're doing," my BM said, "But he recognizes you and your car. He really calls for you!"
(Just a hunch: I think it might have something to do with what I'm calling the "crack apples" off my mom's apple tree. I started adding them to his grain, just as treat, about two weeks ago. The tree itself was planted when I was about 10 years old, and this past year they produced the biggest, most delicious apples to date. The tree drops 10 - 20 new apples daily, and the ones that aren't worth making anything with I've been collecting for the horses. I give them away freely, and toss a few tennis ball-sized apples in Jean-Luc's grain each time I bring him in from the field.
Though not 100% sure, I will say that I was elated on Friday evening when he and his boyfriend Cody came all the way to the side gate by the barn. Literally, I opened the gate for him to walk into a barn, no hike into the field, nothing! Easy as pie!)
Once caught and cleaned up some, I tossed a blanket and the surcingle I'd only ever used once on Jean-Luc. We walked into small round pen inside the barn and, with reins still clipped to the surcingle, I pulled out four ground poles in preparation for our work.
The pen inside the barn is small, so you can't move too quickly inside. That said, I figured a few ground poles would add just a little more work for Jean-Luc and encourage him to really reach his feet underneath him as builds his top-line.
In previous days moving over poles without a surcingle went really well. Jean-Luc actually likes working in the barn. The surcingle, however, is not his friend. Note the photo below.
When I first started working him in it, he would hardly move. After some encouragement to move forward, though, he really settled in. It took him around 3 minutes on each side to get his head in this position.
We repeated the lesson on Saturday, bright and early. I had to hike to the top of the hill to even find the little bugger, all the while listening to some random commotion in the woods that sounded like a coyote taking down a very upset bird. Jean-Luc is usually pretty bad about calling out to his friends and walking very quickly / out of control when I have to lead him that far away from the herd, despite all the commotion, he didn't make a sound the entire way to the barn. He got a little prancy but for the most part, he was great! He didn't call out at all until we were actually back at the barn.
Saturday, the only thing we changed in our work with the surcingle was our location and the amount of time we worked on each side. We went for 15 minutes instead of 10 on each side and moved outside instead of inside the barn. We also tried for a few more changes in speed.
Outside meant it was obvious Jean-Luc's focus would be split between me and trying to find the herd, but I believe I overcame his obsession pretty well. Future lessons may have us back in the barn until the concepts are locked-in a little more, but for now, I am pleased.
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.