Prince doesn’t know how many feet he has. As an inexperienced riding horse, and one who has done a lot of Parelli playing from the ground, but not a lot of real schooling work, he often fails to pick his feet up, particularly at the trot. As I don’t wish to be put on the floor, I decided this should be something we work on pretty soon. I’m not planning on competing or doing any dressage with him, but he needs to be able to make his way in any direction I ask him to go without stumbling or tripping. We know it isn’t a soundness issue, or something which relates to the way his tack fits, it’s definitely a case of not always thinking about where he puts his feet, and not being in self-carriage.
So out came the trotting poles, I sent Prince on a circle and… he flew over them. I thought it might be beginner’s luck, so I sent him again, and witnessed another great performance. I decided I’d need evidence in case nobody believed me, so I did a juggling act with a 22-foot line and my phone (and probably over-used my tongue as a result, I sound like I’m nagging in this video!), and asked Prince to approach the poles once more.
As you can see, he does a reasonable job! The right rein isn’t so fantastic, with him missing the stride into them and clouting the first two as a result, but he made a real effort, so I was proud of him.
Here Prince is two weeks ago figuring out how to pick his feet up:
A week later, with an eye on the fact that our first playday is now less than a month away, I decided it was high time that Prince and I checked out the ten acre field. The horses live there all winter, but none of them have been there for a couple of months, as they’ve moved into their summer paddocks. I knew Prince would want the chance to check for dragons before any obstacles are set up or other horses arrive, so I tacked him up on the yard, and with the safety of two companions alongside us, we went to the ten acre for a play.
Sure enough, Prince wasn’t all that relaxed initially – up on his toes as he was in a ten acre field full of tall grass, but he soon started blowing and snorting (in the good way!) once I got him trotting and thinking. Once he’d figured out that there was probably nothing nearby which would attack him, I mounted up and we had a mini hack around the field. I half wanted to ride him back down the lane to the yard, but the person assisting me wasn’t all that confident, so I decided to leave things on a good note and walk him home. Another reasonably successful session for the books.
Our final workout recently came earlier this week: it was almost the hottest day of 2015 so far, and I didn’t have Prince’s saddle at the yard, so riding wasn’t an option, but I wanted him a little tired so that he was well-behaved for the podiatrist’s impending visit. I didn’t try to achieve anything clever, just gave Prince some miles in his legs, working on some transitions with him out on the line: upwards and downwards, between walk, trot and canter. It’s just nice, I thought, that he now does what I ask, when I ask for it. He finally pretty much trusts me and sees me as a partner and leader, rather than a stranger.
At the end of the session, the podiatrist had arrived but was halfway through doing another horse. Prince was sweaty, so needed a hose down before being seen, but I had a fair bit of time on my hands, so I took him for a walk to the top of the paddock to cool him off and give him the chance to stand in the shade. Our neighbours were burning something next door, and as the smoke drifted through the trees, it was hit by the bright sunlight from overhead, creating the kind of light you typically see in heavily-edited or brilliantly-lit photoshoots, or even in CGI-filled movies. I put Prince in position, crouched down and shot away, producing some pictures I’m pretty proud of – you can check them out below.
I’m a little behind where I’d like to be, but overall in a good horsey place at the moment. Hope you’re all enjoying the summer too!