It feels like spring is trying to mount a charge: the daylight hours are increasing, and I even spot a glowing orb in the sky on some days. It’s definitely getting a little warmer (though I still choose skiwear for the yard), and rain is a slight surprise rather than an expected occurrence. Having fed the horses this morning, we pulled our chairs out of the tack room and into a patch of sun to have a drink and a chat whilst planning our work for the day. I almost felt my face change colour. As we contemplated what to do, I felt myself itching to make the most of the day and get out of the barn – space is limited in there, and due to the underlying concrete, trot work is very limited. I’ve been aching to get Prince onto a longer line to see if we’ve improved over the last three months, so we decided to brave the sticky field and work outside.
Off I went, hauling my feet through the clay-mud with a 22 foot line determinedly in hand (and plenty of treats in my pocket – I’m definitely going to need a bumbag this summer, I thought to myself, as I realised that the one benefit to winter is that coats mean pockets). Prince seemed happy to be remaining outside rather than being taken to the barn for a workout – I’m getting just a little concerned as to what he might do when I finally get him under saddle… this horse is definitely ready for a good run!
I warmed him up for a few minutes on the normal 12 foot line, before switching to the 22 – it’s three months since I’ve used it, and my experience is still very limited, I find it hard to juggle the knitting and an unconfident horse who is easily confused by my body language, but we both have to learn somehow! What disappointed me most is that I had to put my gloves on: I always worried about burns when I first started working with ropes, until I realised how much gloves negatively affect my feel, and that I’m generally working in a small space with a short line – the horse doesn’t have far to go, and ultimately if I have to drop the rope and let him, it’s no big deal… until you’re in a 10 acre field with a very strong and panicky cob on a 22 foot line.
Generally, we’ve definitely improved. Relaxation is offered far easier than it was in the beginning, and that’s been our main aim. Prince even offered some canter of his own accord, which always shocks me given that he normally only canters for food! The one thing that’s become obvious we need to work on quickly is the speed with which he returns to me: he’s a 15 hand horse with 12 hand legs, but he’s a lot of horse widthways (hopefully not for long!) and once you call him in, he really barrels at you in relief. So I have to get him to be more controlled with his return, and I have to stop jumping out of the way!
Things are going in the right direction though, and progress is being made. I ended the session pretty tired from the mental and physical workout, and I’m sure Prince had a lot to think about too. Here’s hoping the weather and fields continue to improve, so that we can really crack on. It might even be time to get his trainer back to see what she can advise, now that Prince and I have a relationship and can work together in a reasonable fashion…