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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

November 4, 2012


Phebes has been idle for a long time.  Almost eighteen months since she's had any "real" riding.  The winter will soon be upon us, which means I need something concrete to do.  I'm not a good shut-in.   Today was one of those crisp Fall days when the sky looks like it is forever, and the air feels sharp and good in your chest.  A simplistic way of putting it, is you feel alive.  Good. 

My agenda for today was to fit Phebes to a headstall, and perhaps try a bit for the very first time. It isn't that I felt she needs a bit necessarily, but rather that she should be well-rounded enough to go bitless or bitted.  Since my soujourn with the Speckled Wonder I've come to appreciate the extra communication that happens with a bit.  So I bamboozled Phebes into her halter and snapped her onto the trailer with The Clip.  Having no idea of what to really expect after a year and half off, I did a little sacking out, touching the "no" places until she was non-reactionary, wiggling the saddle to her general annoyance, same with the breast collar.  She fell into some of the nasty biting behaviors over this, that, and whatever.  I just persisted at doing the annoying thing, and then stopping when she quit reacting.  Pretty soon all was well.  Then I put a snaffle with a roller ball and a very short shank in her mouth. Of course this set off all kinds of chomping and chewing.  Once that was worked out, I fastened the reins on both sides to the pommel of the saddle so that if she got high headed she would meet resistance.  It worked well, so I had her do low energy trotting in circles on a long line attached to her halter/ bridle with me on the ground.  We did those for awhile, and then some side-passing from the ground, backing up with light pressure on both reins, yielding her front and hind quarters.  When she got moody I just kept doing what I was doing until her face relaxed, and then released.  I spent a few minutes putting weight in the stirrups to see if I'd get a nasty reaction, and she was looking kind of snarly faced, so we worked at that in a low-key way.  Pressure.  Release.  Pressure.  Release.  Her expression softened.  There was only one thing left to do, and that was climb aboard.  I'd say Phebes is easily 14.3 + and I haven't been swinging myself up that high for awhile.  I could have, but I thought again of how to do this in a way to make it less uncomfortable for her in general.  I rolled an old tire into the round pen and used it as a mounting block.  Foot in, up, over, and gently settled in.  The moment of truth.  I lifted the rein, and she stepped off.  I could feel her energy buzzing beneath me, but she walked calmly, steered light as a feather, backed off of a lifted rein, side passed, and was just beautifully responsive.  I leaned back in the saddle, she stopped.  It wasn't good,  it was darned near perfect.  I dismounted.  Pressed my face against her neck, and entirely choked up.  However Phebes may feel about me, my heart still belongs to her.  Everything she did today was a result of many long and sweaty hours of my work with what has been described as an impossible horse.  A horse an expert trainer told me "not to turn my back on."  Pressed against her neck I told her, "you did a good job", and she lowered her head and sighed.  It was a beautiful moment.   ~ E.G.

1 comment:

  1. I have happy tears for you...what you described is a joy that only you can truly feel with Phebes, but you described it very well for those of us reading so we can almost feel it with you. Yay!
    Karen and Mustang Tripp