Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Winter camp: Day 1 & 2

I'm calling this little break from work and focus on Theo Winter Camp.  I am in Winter Camp and I love it.  There is a certain joy that comes from waking up and realizing the only thing you need to worry about for the day is spending time with your pony.

Day 1 was only kind of Winter Camp.  I was at work as usual, but after work I went out to ride for the first time in weeks.  Because I'm not dumb, Theo's first stop was the lunge line.  He was surprisingly well behaved.  I only lunged him tracking right to protect my left shoulder.  Go figure, he never bolted or dragged me.  He shook his head and scooted once, but was generally willing to keep his brain between his ears.  As I am legging him up after his break, it was only about ten minutes trotting on the lunge, about ten under saddle.  Dare I say he might have missed me?  Or at least missed the grooming and attention.  He cantered up to the gate and seemed quite pleased to head to the arena.

He was also an uncivilized yak.  So.  Much.  Hair.  And a certain amount of dancing around because he hadn't been handled much in a couple weeks.  Nothing actually troublesome, just enough to let me know that he considered himself to be a wild stallion.  Summary of our interaction:

I am a wild stallion!  Untamed, untouched, you cannot catch -- wait, what do you have in that bucket?

I am a wild stallion!  You cannot put a cooler on me, for I am vicious and -- OW!  You smacked me!  Okay, fine.  But only because I'm cold!

I am a wild stallion!  I snort and scoot and . . . oh, you seem very cross, never mind.  Can I have a cookie?

He was also very cuddly and enthusiastic about being groomed.  I was just as enthusiastic to give him a good curry and take him for a ride.  It's sad that 28* felt so warm. 

Day 2 was my first day of actual vacation.  I worked for a couple hours from home, then scooted out at noon.  With 50's in the forecast, I knew Theo needed to be clipped.  I didn't want to.  I spent most of the drive trying to think of an excuse to get out of clipping him.  Fortunately for his comfort, I realized I just needed to do it.  It was 39*, sunny, and frankly beautiful for January.  Time to shear the yak.

It's harder to shear a yak when he's so itchy that he keeps moving to put the clippers on the itchiest parts of himself.  And then I was clipping his belly and he got a bit . . . excited.  Theo, no.  No.  Do not do the humpty dance while I'm trying to clip your belly.  Just put that thing away.

It took me two hours to chew/clip through his ridiculous coat.  A lot of sections took multiple passes.  It doesn't matter how good my brushes are, when you get to a certain coat length, you get a dead zone of skin flakes and oil.  My solid citizen Oster clippers were crying and jamming.  It wasn't the prettiest clip, but at least I got the bulk of it off to keep him comfortable.  And then I got a couple of teens to help me give him skritches all over his neck and shoulders where he'd just been clipped.  I swear to all the little gods that horse almost fell on me.  He was so utterly delighted to have 30 fingers digging into him that he started leaning on me and I had to prop him up.

I let him have some time off with an early dinner and some hay in a stall while I cleaned up the mess.

Five times a year, folks

Dinner helped to reset his little brain.  I tacked him up in his western gear and took him down to the ring.  I planned on not lunging, but after walking for ten minutes, he heard something, spun, started to bolt, and I said fuck it.  On to the luge.  We worked on the lunge for about 20 minutes with no outbursts.  I even dared to lunge him left and my shoulder was uninjured!  I just needed to send him forward at the trot, get that first round of yayas out.  

Once I got on, I had to spend a couple minutes convincing myself to not have a heart attack every time he offered to go forward.  Scoot and forward feel a lot a like.  The teens were working their appy ponies and Theo was pretty sure he needed to chase them down and possibly kill them.  He's so charming.  I finally realized I was an idiot and turned him across the diagonal.  I said extend, he said YES, and our ride suddenly snapped into place.  I let him take the contact forward and down, power forward, and burn all of that excess energy in a good way.  I even got brave and cantered him for a bit with the crowded ring.  He was so dang happy.

Finally have a complete western outfit

 Seriously, this horse is so happy to be working again.  I asked him to go forward and his answer was so whole heartedly positive.  Like a spring that's been waiting to be released.  I wanted to laugh.  I was chattering with him, patting him, encouraging him to get as big as he wanted because he's mi papi and he isn't going to hurt me.  At the end of our ride I fed out the reins and he stretched out over his topline as hard as he could.  I can't even imagine how good it must feel to work those muscles again.

I brought it to a stop fairly quickly.  20 on the lunge, 20 under saddle, and about 20 walking.  I don't want to make him sore.  It was a lot more work than Monday.  Tomorrow Trainer A will working him for a bit first thing in the morning, then I have a lesson at 1pm.  I'm currently debating on jumping gear or western gear.  Probably western gear.  I'll jump in my Friday lesson, when he's really rolling.

The view you get when you use a peppermint wrapper to make him prick his ears

I'm so excited to be back.  So is my horse.  Taking the time off was probably the best choice for us, but we're glad it's over.  

Tomorrow we have a lesson and hopefully pictures of my gorgeous skirt from Arctic Horse.  I wore it most of today and I was so toasty warm.  It's gorgeous and I love it.

Crappy mirror picture ftw, I need to clean my closet

It will look amazing draped over Theo's butt.  Maybe we'll even get some pictures of us out in the snow.  I'm all about the accessories and style, after all.

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