However, Irish is an important part of both of our lives so he deserves some exposure.
In a nutshell he's fabulous. I've been bringing him along slowly- I don't want to cause a recurrence of any problems. I may be going too slow but we're both comfortable with it and I have no agenda so it's no big deal.
I usually mount down by the barn and ride up to the ring. This lets me to sense how he's feeling- is he stiff? agitated? lazy?
Once in the ring I try to be proactive- we do lots of walking and stretching. I want to feel that he's striding forward and reaching into the bridle. If not I need to figure out how to fix it. We do lots of bending, leg yielding and changes of direction. We then pick up a trot. My preference is to start by trotting on a long rein so he can stretch over his back. However, if he's hollowing and/or feeling spooky I shorten my reins. A long rein with an inverted back is of no value whatsoever. Whne we first start trotting he's often stiff. I don;t worry about it too much I let him work through it. And so far he always does. By the end of our rides he's soft and over the back.
Irish does have one problem though- he's addicted to grass. Once the grass starts to come in he loses all interest in hay. This means that he drops weight. I don't worry about that because once he's on the pasture he comes back. However, until he gets over to the pasture he's a pain in the behind. Every time anyone walks anywhere in the vicinity the gate from the front paddock to the grass he runs as fast as he can and makes faces demanding to be let in. He's happier now that I've let him over there. However, last weekend Ed wanted to fix up some posts in the grass pastures- the corners had tilted over the weekend so he wanted to dig them up and put them in cement. This means that the fence was down and I had ot move them back to the front.
You can imagine how that went over. I had this brilliant brain wave to let them into the riding ring. That way they could eat the grass in the corners and along the edge. It was win-win for both of us. I made sure that I worked both of them first so that they would quiet. It went as well as I planned. They were happy. When I came to the gate to get them they came right up. I led them both down to the small paddock. I kept the lead on Steele but let Irish off. I figured that Steele would be more likely to try to escape. I turned around to shut the gate. At that point Irish blew past us charging gleefully into the pasture while Steele and I goggled unbelieving. I quickly shut the gate one Steele and went to collect Irish. I watched him run down to the lower pasture. Steele was pitching a fit and I was trying to figure out the best approach. I knew that I could push him too hard because he might go through where the fence was down.
I slowly approached him saying 'whoa!' in a firm voice. He trotted off with a saucy flip of his tail. I headed to cut him off from getting out the side by the barn. I figured he was less likely to run out on the woods side. Fortunately just a few places were down. I stood there watching him chowing on the grass like he hadn't eaten in weeks. I angled slowly to him. He pricked his ears but stayed in place and allowed me to sidle up and snap on the lead. I lead him back to the barn and he came along like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.
Sigh. What chance does Steele have with role models like the two of us?
|Irish: "OPEN THE GATE!"|
Steele: "I can't believe that you left me!"