Well, it has certainly been a busy busy busy few days since my last post. My driving time has been wonderful. After a good long road drive for both the boys earlier in the week, the last couple of drives have been in the arena, and have been marvelous.
Chewbacca is really working at the canter now very well. Not only is he lifting up fairly readily (for him) into it, he’s getting collected <enough> to complete circles, and if he stays this consistent, I may start actually asking for some minor collection. His trotting is great, and he is working on bending through the turns correctly. We’ve been adding in 3 loop serpentines into our work routine. Which, with such a big horse and a cart with practically zero turning radius, is no easy task in the 120 foot length of the outdoor. Chewbacca is doing awesome. Bravo!
And, tomorrow, 8-5-2012 marks our 2 year anniversary since Chewbacca came home! What an incredible 2 years of ups and downs it’s been, but I really like where our “trail” has taken us, and I look forward to more.
Luke of course, special as he is, has been doing wonderfully, although currently, Chewie is “beating” Luke for canter work. Luke needs to get a little better at no gung-ho-ing it, but Luke is kind of a gung-ho guy.
Luke has also “decided” that he no longer willing to be shod. If anyone has *any* suggestions, I am OPEN to hearing them. Ever since we bought Luke, back in 2007, we’ve shod him from April/May-ish through Sept/Oct-ish, depending on weather. He’s only barefoot in the “off season”. This year, for whatever reason, Luke was unable to be shod in April. He was rearing and fighting us tooth and nail and I was not prepared, nor willing, to fight with him. Where this came from out of the blue, I do not know. So, we tried again in June and managed successfully (although it was an INSANE fight) to get 2 front shoes on him. Today was re-set day and we saved the “best for last”. It was not going to happen. Luke not only broke a halter, but he reared up and “walked” backwards and slammed sideways into the stalls on the other side of the aisle. He was pulling and rearing and climbing up stall walls when we tried to tie him with a rope halter after he broke the O-ring loop under the chin on his nylon one. He was not going to have it, and I am not a fighter-with my horses. So, Luke is now officially barefoot – permanently, it seems.
Shoeing isn’t a major deal at all, and certainly not worth the massive fight and possible risk to him. I do not understand where his uncontrollable behaviour is coming from, but for the work he does, he does not need the shoes anyway. I am going to look into a hoof boot for him, as I do want him to cushion and impact-resistance on the roads, and even in the arena,which tends to be stoney. But I am not going to fight with him over getting shoes on! Yikes.
In other, good, news with Luke, his driving is great, and his trick work is coming along well. I haven’t done much trick work with him lately, only over the last week or so, I’ve picked back up on it. I feel I’m making progress in just 2 more sessions with the in-hand piaffe. He’s not piaffe-ing yet, but I am seeing the start of it forming, and I think in a few more weeks, he may actually get it! SUPER COOL! 🙂
And in miniature news, Jesse and Dixie have had their last tandem drive. Disappointing for me, because I have fallen in love with driving 2 horses. (I said to my husband the other day, that I want to go out and buy another hackney!) But, it’s the best thing, really. Jesse is a marvelous little animal, with a grace and proper self carriage and forward motion, combined with a willingness to work, and the ability to go soft, supple, framed, flexed, and bent. He has everything any horse rider/driver could want, just in a 38″ tall package.
Dixie, on the other hand, I have always had issues with. She has never been a “good” horse. I hate to sound like a downer on the little mare, but she has always been a difficult, ill tempered, uncooperative, stubborn, and unwilling horse. She also has a breathing malady, and makes a sound like a roarer on steroids. I have literally thought there were times she was going to collapse.
It was “OK” in the beginning when we were both beginners to driving (my husband and I) – Hey, Dixie actually taught us to drive. Her antics, including rearing, bolting away (with empty cart in tow), and every other snotty little pony trick, I think helped shape both of us into better drivers. About 7 months after we bought Dixie, we bought Luke, and Dixie’s workload hasn’t been the same since.
She actually received about 2 years off. Because my husband was unwilling to let me rehome her as a pet, I started back to driving her, because I just have this thing about paying board on unused horses. I don’t know – it just irks me. So, Dixie went back to driving.
Dixie is slow, lazy, doesn’t listen or cooperate in any way, and is very rude and ill mannered. She is very suitable for a beginner to drive, because they don’t ask for much and any speed is “fast enough”. But when you realize why you want a forward horse, or at least one that moves Dixie almost instantaneously becomes insufficient. In the arena, she is hard to drive because I have to constantly press her forward with the whip. C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-L-Y. And on top of her collapsing trachea, she acts like any bit of exercise (in harness or not) is too much. Out on the road, where it’s easier to pull the cart, she is unwilling to go, uncooperative, overly spooky, and just jumpy and rude for no reason. She “spooks” because she can, and because she doesn’t want to go. Not because she’s actually afraid. After last year’s near run-in (or run over) with a pick up truck, I refused to take Dixie on the roads anymore, for my own safety and sanity. So, as of last year, I no longer wanted to drive Dixie in the arena, nor on the road. So her tandem life soon began.
And all the issues with her unwillingness to go forward, cause huge problems with the tandem. After our last drive together, with Dixie moseying so slow, Jesse was pulling her along, as well as the cart and me in it, I decided enough is enough. Dixie is officially retired as of this point. Driving should be fun (any horse activity should be fun), and especially when you’re doing it for pleasure, it should actually be pleasurable – not a fight every step of the way just to get a simple trot around a circular driveway. Ugh.
So, lots of things happening!
And earlier today, myself and a friend headed out to watch a jumper Grand Prix.
The morning started out sauna-esque hot. By the time I was done driving Chewbacca after an amazing drive, it was about 88 at 8:30 am. Poor Chewie was covered in sweat he looked like he actually did just go do a full marathon. No, he’d probably have been less sweaty had he done a marathon, if it just a little cooler. So, after a good hosing and an hour in front of the big barn fan, Chewie, Luke, and the puff ball known as Dixie, waited for the farrier and had that ordeal. (Let me give Dixie some credit – she is good for the farrier).
After that, with the heat brewing near 93, we headed to the Grand Prix, about an hour away.
We were a little concerned that we would be sweltering in the heat, but almost as soon as we got to our seats, the skies clouded up, and not long after, it looked like rain was moving in.
The rain held off for the entire competition, amazingly, and right as the announcer called out the winner, it just started to drizzle. By the time we got to the car, it was a steady rain, and by the time we pulled out of the show grounds, the skies were black and lightening was flashing. It was quite a storm, making for an interesting drive home, but we were all no worse for wear.
And if you’re still reading, now for some pictures of the GP, enjoy!