Chronic conditions I do sorely admit.
Phebes arena sessions had gone from rather horrific to acceptable in a matter of a couple of weeks of slow work, and my remaining calm during her from the ground tantrum episodes. She does in fact have tantrums and has had since she was a foal. She used to get so torqued she'd blatantly throw herself on the ground, roll and thrash about, and then leap up like I SHOWED YOU! She still has these epic outbursts but on a much lower scale when she dislikes something such as a loud truck barreling down the road, whereby she will rear, buck, and leap into the air in gravity defying ways of showing her disdain for loud noises while at liberty. She is a challenge. But on the other hand she is smart, learns quickly, and seems to retain everything accept pure emotional control of herself.
Phebes has not been out of a two acre run under saddle for a three year period. I move her from small paddock, to small paddock to keep things from being so boring that she might want to chew down a tree, but in all honesty I just can't seem to devote myself to the full time work of two horses (we have three). So whomever is doing distance or a CMO is who will be on the front burner and that is Journey.
Phebes is plainly being wasted and it hasn't boded well for her health. Her hooves need the movement, she is obese and cresty, so I'm trying my darnedest to do something for her in spits and spurts at best.
Yesterday Lida Pinkham and Reta (Lida's friend) met me at my
stomping/riding grounds as I planned to put Phebes back "out there" for
the first time in three years. I dragged my feet pretty much heading out to get her to load into the horse trailer. She loaded right up, did some pawing and clanging around. Nothing frantic, just clanging with a hoof. I pointed the trailer for the park and away we went. I shoved the radio up to mid-volume on a country station akin to inserting your fingers in your ears to not hear something embarrassing "la la la la la la." Much as I tried to ignore the situation back there, I couldn't. I turned the radio off, I mean if I were to hear the steel giving way back there I really as a responsible human should put forth the effort to listen and act. All was quiet. We pull into a spot in day parking a full half hour ahead of Lida and Reta. I figure this will give her the opportunity to paw for thirty minutes standing on three legs and work out the anxiety she is feeling from the ride over. With dread I open the door and look under the divider for the sweat dripping off her belly...huh! Nothing. I open the divider and her fur is dry and fluffy just like when I put her in there. Reaching for the clip I expect her to get pushy wanting out. She backs out like a sane little horsey. I lead her on out, clang shut the door of the time machine, and clip her to the trailer. Ooops! She's on three legs, pawing the air with the fourth. Paw, paw, paw, paw, google eyed looking around, done. DONE! So the first part came off pretty well, and as good or better than a lot of horses I've seen at the park coming off their trailers. She's standing there just kind of looking around. So I have a half hour before my ride buddies will show up, so I figure I'll go ahead and tack her up and hand walk her around the otherwise deserted horse parking area and just let her see and digest things. We walk, we see, she smells picnic tables, signs, the port-o-let bothered her some but I can't say I'm not bothered by the port-o-let...she did get within about six feet of it and snorted, but no drama. I clip her back to the horse trailer and my cohorts for the day pull in. They tack up, and I'm thinking here goes nothing and lead Phebes over to the mounting block. She is tall enough now that ground mounting for me is very difficult, my stirrups are short, and so are my legs. She sidles up pretty well and I sling a leg over and walk her around as more trailers come in, more horses unload. She is interested, but not freaked out. She did somewhat balk at being first horse out when we left the parking area, nothing all that dramatic, just stuck it in park and didn't want to lead. She followed Doc and Tex willingly out to the trail. She eventually wanted to lead and the difficulty I would encounter as the day moved on was that she did not like being in back, or being left, she wanted to be in front and was fine being a bit ahead. Doc wasn't liking Phebes much and sending I'm gonna kick you if you cross me signals, and Tex wasn't thrilled with her either, so maybe she just felt safer with some lead on the geldings. The only problem I encountered was the geldings running up hill ahead of her, while we were on the downhill and she thinking she should give chase. This resulted in a near miss for me of an unplanned dismount, and tells me that she is in no way ready for that kind of excitement which is what previously would set up her for a tie-up episode. On her own though she was forward, and so much braver than I ever thought she'd be! She didn't spook all day. She in fact almost seemed to be enjoying herself out there. It all went way more smoothly than I had anticipated that it would, and we had a nice trail ride out there. I'm very appreciative to both the ladies and their horses for assisting me on getting her out in the woods with safe company. I'm not ready to put anyone else on her yet, but believe she could be paired with Journey for safe slow trail work as the winter weather allows. I just have to have a rider for The Spotted Wonder. About sixty days of slow work would be good for both the girls, keep them trail fit, and keep me winter sane.
I was able to appreciate having a horse under me yesterday that clearly is large enough for the task of carrying my fat fanny, is light to the bridle, and responsive to leg. Dare I even go there and say how much I've missed riding her? She seems great today, albeit a lot of stretching and yawning. The two horses are so different from one another. I appreciate Journey's steadiness, general predictability and toughness. She just has a great work ethic but not a lot of "oomph" to back it up with. She has never quit me. Journey is a bit undersized I believe for my weight, though she can finish a 50 with enough left in the tank for a final good loose lead trot out. Phebes was supposed to be the horse of my dreams after her mother died. In fact, Phebes has given me more total distance miles than Journey has yet. They both bring such different things to the table. I have many questions about what kind of healing the long hiatus may have brought to Phebes, the added maturity of age, the dietary changes, the supplements / minerals and overall simplification of diet. She stepped out bare hooved yesterday over rock and gravel like nobody's business. Poor little Journey would have been dead lame without 4X4 hoof protection. It is hard to not make comparisons. But in the end...Journey is the horse that got the job done.
I'm looking forward to continued work with Phebes, trying to focus on her head instead of building her athletically (that should naturally follow). Phebes first ride out behavior has left me amazed and somewhat mystified, but
apparently the work I've been doing with her has somewhat got across the
blood brain barriers ☺
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association