Friday, December 24, 2010

Not a White Christmas

Last Saturday we woke up to snow at our house. It stayed for about three days, making us wonder if we might have a bit of the white stuff lasting until Christmas. But, alas, the ever reliable rains of Washington have come and melted them all away. What else did the rains of Washington bring? Eager to never disappoint, a flowing river and a pond.

One in Milo's pasture, specifically. And interestingly enough about this photo is the hint of Milo down at the pond. Either his ball was already down there when the rains started, or someone brought it down there. I would be most surprised to see Milo playing down in the water. He doesnt like being wet.

Here he greeted me for a moment:

Then went back inside to dry off (or maybe eat...probably both):

Mom, in her hypersensitive and worry-wort self, thought she noticed some red on Milo's face. OMG I thought, He's bleeding. I coaxed Milo back out of the stall.

Ohh, he must've rubbed up against some wet boards. Silly Milo. Thank God it wasn't worse. Clearly unamused by being dragged back outside into the rain, I gave Milo a pat and went to work on the sopping pastures.

My buddy Clara from WSU is home briefly for the Holidays, and Friday was the only day we could plan to see each other. She met me at the barn just after I was finished with my chores. It was great to see her again. Although, I didnt get a whole lot of chatting in because once I rode, another boarder snatched her right up into conversation. Thats Ok, I thought, it gave me some opportunity to really work Milo and not be distracted by conversation.

Speaking of working Milo, we had a nice ride. Hes getting better about his shoulder bulging; it's becoming much less often and he's really starting to learn how to hold it up on his own. Hes got the counter arc down pat at the walk, and is about 90% there to the right, with about 70% to the left. He was moving well and worked very nicely at the trot.

When I prepared him to pick up the left lead lope, he lifted his shoulders right up and stepped right out into the lope. Gaining control over his hip is really helping for a nice lope departure. Now Ive been asking for more lifting of his shoulders at the lope. Before, I would simply ask him to round up his back, and he would dive his shoulder in on the turn. Last night I worked on addressing that, but he insisted that if he were to lift his shoulder at the lope, it meant his head had to come up too. Not the case, Milo. But I am going to allow him some time to master this and not get frustrated. After all, lifting, bending, and holding his shoulder up at the lope is going to require more use of his rear and use of different muscles; something he will get with some time.

However, the second time in the left lead lope he was started to lift his shoulder and stay round with a dropped head. So he knows what I want, it is just a matter of his body conditioning to be able to perform that. Our lope to the right was very nice as well, and is feeling better everyday. He even was much more willing to pick it up on the longeline than even the night before. So thats good progress. He is better about lifting his shoulder and staying round to the right, which seems to make sense because its the left shoulder he likes to bulge, so it would be difficult for him to lift that shoulder and bend around it.

I then asked for some spins. He is starting to get that its a forward motion, not one to suck back. He only tried to suck back once going to the left, but I pushed him right out of it and we had some nice revolutions both ways.

I jumped off with Milo still puffing and said to Clara "Alright, he needs a nice cool out" and handed her the reins. She wanted to ride him anyways, what better time than in the cool-out? She got right on (well - a bit of difficulty being he had his bareback pad on, and the mounting block still doesnt make her tall enough - her horse is only like 15.1hh). I let her know that Milo is working really well with indirect rein pressure, so not to ask directly as she previously has known to do when he was in the snaffle. She seemed a bit surprised by not only how wide he is (his back shape truly has changed since she last rode him in the summer), but how hes carrying himself now. His muscles are being built to carry himself lifted and round, so even on a cool-out with a loose rein, thats where he choses to hold himself (good Milo).

He tried the shoulder bulging with her too, and she of course knows how to correct that, but needed a reminder on the outside rein aid. Once she supported him with that, he stepped right on over front even with the hind and held himself up.

I told her she could try to get him into a spin if she wanted. I explained how to use her aids to ask for it, and he initially wanted to suck back. I instructed her to let off on the rein some more and cue with her leg. She did, and once she released more of her inside leg, he gave her about a 180o pivot on the inside leg. I quickly told her to walk him out and that he was a good boy.

It was funny too when she asked him to back up, because Milo is very responsive to the back cue. She cued a little too strong on the rein first, but I told her to sit deeper and once she did and let off his face a bit, he stepped right on back for her. It was neat to watch. He really thought it was bull sh*t to have to go up into the trot for her, and when she cued he flipped his head up, laid his ears back, and swung his head from side to side. But Clara is a good rider and she persisted (shes also used to Milo and his antics). He eventually dropped his head down and stepped right off into a trot from the rear. Good Milo! Even with acting up, he did move into the trot correctly. That was really cool to see. I watched her jog him around a bit (she also did some more walk-trot transitions and by the third one, he stepped right off for her) and it was really nice to see someone else competent ride my horse. I became really proud of him and marveled at how good looking he is ; ) then wondered how he looks when Im on him. Hmmm...

He was cooled out and Clara got off (with difficulty - poor short thing). I was pleased to see her loving on him a bit. A lot of people are a bit shy with loving on Milo because he can be so mouthy. Now Milo has known Clara as long as Ive owned him, so he not only knows not to mess with her, but she also knows his shenanegans. It was sweet to see them together though.

I led Milo down to his pasture, gave him a peppermint cookie, and snuck a candy cane into his grain. I gave him a hug and a kiss and wished him a Merry Christmas. He just eagerly ate his grain. Ohh, priorities.


Rising Rainbow said...

That's pretty much what it looks like at my place too.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Story said...

Hope you and Milo have a great Christmas, even if it's a little on the green side :)