I have to say, sometimes I really love being a horse.
Okay, most of the time I really love being a horse. But today was one of those days that made it stand out for me a little more than other days.
So, you know how I told you yesterday that my Mommy and I were going to go on a long walk today, if it didn’t rain? Well, she showed up at the barn in the middle of the morning before the rain came, and instead of tacking me up with a saddle, she just groomed me and put my bridle on… and hopped on my back, bareback!
I used to hate it when my humans rode me bareback, because I was skinny and didn’t have very strong muscles. They bought me a “bareback pad” so there would be a little more cushioning between their butts and my spine, and that helped a lot. But it used to be pretty uncomfortable for me. (And probably for them, too… I mean, I was very boney!) Now it’s not so bad. In fact, it’s actually kind of nice to be able to feel my humans that close to me. I’m a lot more muscular than I used to be, and since I am almost always in my frame while I work out, my back muscles in particular have gotten big and strong… so it isn’t uncomfortable for my Mommy to sit on my back without a saddle. Especially when we have a nice, relaxing ride, like my Mommy and I had today.
We didn’t do too much. We decided not to go down the road because we weren’t sure if it was going to start raining at any moment (and all of the dark clouds that covered the sky made it look like it just might), so we stayed in the arena. We mostly walked around and looked at stuff.
We looked at the course that I jumped yesterday:
We looked at my friend, Moekie, in the field with our friends Jelly Bean (a mini donkey) and Jube Jube (a mini pony):
We looked at my friend, Isis, in the back field, and the whole property which we love so much:
And of course we looked at my best friend, Leo, in the paddock that we like to share together:
But the best part of hanging out with my Mommy and walking around with her on my back…
She stopped now and then to give me TREATS! And they were peppermint treats; my favorite! (Well, aside from apples… and carrots… and molasses cookies… and I really love iced tea, too.)
We did a little bit of trotting and cantering, even a couple flying changes, but just for fun. Mommy said that she wanted me to stretch my legs and loosen up my muscles, because she knew I would be a little bit sore and stiff after jumping two days in a row. I really love being her adopted son, because she has that… thing. That thing that Mommies have. You know, where they know pretty much everything? Yeah, she has that.
That’s why I wanted to tell you the story about how I first learned to long-line. Remember in my post yesterday, how I told you that I would explain it to you one day? Well, today is that day.
Back when I was still a 3 year old baby horse, at my first home in New York, my Mommy told me that I was too young to be ridden every day. She said that I would only have to work three days each week until I was 4 years old, and that some of the days I worked, she would work me from the ground. At first, I didn’t know what that meant. But I soon learned that it meant I’d get to have a lot of fun!!
Some days, my Mommy and Daddy would put on my boots or polo wraps and turn me loose in the arena, where I could run, buck, play, and pretty much do whatever I wanted!
Here are some photos from the first time they let me run around in the arena:
Anyway, I learned that sometimes I would still have to “work” work, even if my humans didn’t ride me. And that meant that I would need to learn how to be “long-lined.” My Mommy explained to me that most horses would get lunged, which is where the human ties a lunge-line to one side of your bit and makes you go in a circle around them. But my Mommy never liked lunging, because it doesn’t allow us to stay balanced, and it makes us use ourselves incorrectly. I didn’t really understand what that meant, so my Mommy let me try it one day in the round paddock (the one I jumped out of that one time…):
As soon as I began, I knew that my Mommy was right. It was so hard for me to work in a way that felt natural. In fact, when I cantered, I couldn’t keep my front legs and my back legs on the same lead (as you can tell in the above photo), because I felt like I was going to fall over!
The next day, my Mommy told me that I would get to learn the “long-lines” and feel the difference. So she put on my bridle and a saddle pad, and on the saddle pad she put on something that felt like the girth from a saddle… but there was no saddle! She called it a “surcingle” and said that it’s where the “long-lines” would go before they connected to my bit.
Here’s a photo of my Daddy long-lining me, so you can see what I mean:
So, long-lining was a lot like lunging, but it felt way better because my Mommy (or my Daddy) could help keep me balanced by using the outside line. Actually, it really felt like someone was riding me without being on my back. It was kind of fun, but it was also a little weird. Sometimes, the line from the outside would get underneath my tail, and it felt so funny that I would take off bucking!! But eventually I’d have to stop so that one of my humans could fix it.
As it turned out, each week I would have a different combination of workouts. So, one week would go like this: Ride for thirty minutes, two days off, long line for twenty minutes, one day off, run around in the arena for thirty minutes, one day off. And another week would go: Ride for twenty minutes, one day off, ride for thirty minutes, two days off, run around in the arena for twenty minutes, one day off… and so on. It worked out really well, because I was never overly tired, but I never had too much extra energy – and I never felt sore. Mommy thinks that a 3 year old baby horse is too young to feel sore, so she was very careful not to let me feel that way. I love her so much.
These days, my training schedule is a lot more rigorous, which I like a lot. I usually work for forty-five minutes or an hour; when I jump, it’s usually thirty minutes of flatwork and then fifteen minutes of jumping. I feel sore sometimes now, but I don’t mind it because my Mommy always knows what I need to help the aches go away – like today, how we mostly walked and got to do some easy, light work until my muscles were nice and loose. Sometimes, after a really hard workout – if it’s warm enough – she’ll give me a hot shower and then spray me with this green shampoo that smells minty. She calls it “liniment.” It makes my body feel a little tingly all over (which I don’t always like that much), but it really makes my muscles feel better when I’m sore.
You can’t tell that it’s green once it’s all foamy, but here’s a picture of me in the middle of my last liniment bath:
Well, anyway, after our relaxing ride, my Mommy groomed me again and let me eat a little hay before putting me back into the paddock with my best friend, Leo. It was a great day! Leo and I hung out for the rest of the day, just chillin’ and eating grass. He’s my best friend. I love him.
Okay, guys. I think I hear someone moving around in the grain room, so I’d better go. I usually get my grain faster if I stand in the doorway of my stall and look really cute… Not that I’m ever not cute. But it helps! Have a good night! I’ll catch y’all tomorrow.