March Madness (but not the basketball kind)
March has been what feels like the longest month. Longer than January long. So long that I didn't realize all that happened this month until I sat down to write this post and thought to myself, wait, that happened three weeks ago?
A lot has happened, some of which I won't yet be writing about. In an effort to not get too behind on my blogging however, here we go.
On March 5, I moved into the rental unit attached to my good friend's new house they just closed on. Talk about timing! It sits on over two acres and within the first two weeks I was here we had the majority of that fenced in for the dogs. Their two dogs are my girls' best barn buds, so they are loving having some live-in play pals. This move also means that we're now only fifteen minutes from the barn and I cannot even describe how happy that makes me. Goose is so close that I can now see him all the time without racking up gas bills and miles on my car, which is excellent for spring boot camp much to his dismay.
|This is what we started March with|
The first weekend I was here, I went back and forth to the condo to finish out some cleaning, spackling, and touch up painting. The sale closed on March 11 and I am thrilled to no longer be the owner of a condo! Living out here suits all of us so much better and the dogs are absolutely loving having a yard.
|Buh bye, condo life.|
|They LOVE watching the rabbits from their new couch window.|
|Happy dogs in their huge yard! Bonus lab on the left that my friend was dog sitting my first week here.|
|Stopping to smell the daffodils.|
Also my first week living here, the temperatures shot up into the mid-70's which was both delightful and concerning for the owner of a hairy yak such as Goose. My barn manager gave her blessing to clip him so he'd be more comfortable (I feel bad clipping early as it means more sheeting for our pasture boarded horses), so he got a couple lunchtime baths thanks to my short commute and I clipped him by headlamp two nights after work. This is the first time in years that I haven't had my giant Andis clippers to sheep shear him, and there was a lot of swearing trying to clip through his thick coat with just my normal Andis two speed.
|Partway done and looking RIDICULOUS. His Irish clip sort of held but I had to reclip it. My one blade got through his legs and his neck on one side of the part of him that was still short from the Irish. Poor dude.|
**Side note: Does anyone have any clipper recommendations? I had the Andis equivalent of the Oster Clipmasters and they died on me four times and Dover won't let me replace them for free again. I'm open to just stronger/better small clippers or another set of giant sheep shearers. I just absolutely cannot de-yak the Goose with these small clippers again, I simply do not have the mental capacity and patience.
The clip came out okay considering there's just no way to get the dirt out from under his coat completely and his hair is so freaking thick it's ridiculous. I was waiting to clip his head for a warm weekend day when I could scrub, dry, then clip all at once but that day has yet to come, three weeks later. I will eventually get around to it but we're not going anywhere right now and he sure doesn't seem to care. The weekends have been a bit chilly and rainy anyway, and it's just not a job I can tackle during the week when we've had lovely weather.
|The final product. His head looks so silly the longer you stare at it.|
|Just a nice white horse with a yellow head. Very fashionable this year.|
I've been able to sneak in quite a lot of saddle time this month as well, especially since he's no longer a sweaty mess after a mere walk ride. He's had a surprising amount of energy for Goose, and I don't know if it's because I'm more in shape this year and riding better or if he's just decided that 17 is his year to shine. Oh, did I forget to mention he turned SEVENTEEN this month? I'm utterly shocked and don't know how he suddenly became an old man.
|Long lining a few weekends ago. So thrilled with his weight coming out of winter (he's not a total hippo this year!) now we just need that muscle back!|
Our rides have consisted of 10-15 minutes of walking, mainly loose and on the buckle just trying to get him forward, then taking up the reins for a few minutes and doing some laterals, turning through the shoulder, attempting to move the haunches, and then picking up a forward trot with his head wherever he wants it as long as it's not in total giraffe position. We then pick up the reins again and go to work for 10 minutes, have another walk break, then another 7-10 minutes of work depending on how he feels before cooling out.
In our jump field we have little hills that I've been working to condition him on. His hind end feels weaker to me than it has in the past and I'd like to address that through conditioning before I decide to potentially move forward with maintenance. If his body is telling me it needs something, then he'll get it. However, he's 17, long-backed, lazy AF, and it will shock no one that he's never had a naturally strong hind end to begin with. He has no muscle right now so I also added some soybean meal to his feeding plan for a little protein boost so we'll see what he looks like come May and readdress the plan as needed.
He's been worked fairly consistently for three weeks now, 30-45 minute rides with a few walk rides thrown in for both our sanity and happiness. I rode bareback all weekend since it was a bit mucky, but last night I saddled up hoping to get a nice ride in to kick off a week of glorious weather.
|Perpetually filthy, even when mostly clipped. His head is so embarrassing at this point but I'm trying not to care.|
I can't say he was bad, because he wasn't. He never escalated to the Naked and Afraid level he did last year where I got off and had to lunge him, so I'm super proud of him for that. He was just fresh and forward and not in a productive way. I got on and he power walked, which I was delighted about because he rarely offers that. I put him together and tried a few easy laterals and he took off at the trot with his nose to the sky. We had a brief discussion about the head positioning but I figured the best way to play this out was to be the human lunge line. The beauty of Goose is that usually this lasts about two minutes before he's utterly exhausted and reasonable again. Last night was not the case.
We did lots of loops and figures, some hills (hey bud, if you're going to run away with me at least do it on the hills for that booty workout) and anytime I asked for any kind of haunches, shoulder, or lateral movement, he'd offer up the canter. So then we'd just canter all over the place, come back to trot, try again, rinse repeat. He just wasn't having it. He wasn't being bad, he just could not handle anything but forward so my main goal was consistent contact and head carriage and just let him get the energy out.
Towards the end of our ride, I figured I'd send him over some trot and canter poles I had set up last week. When I tell you poles went flying, I mean they went FLYING, I had to get off and reset the trot poles. In my mind, it was logical that we could potentially put his energy to good use and engage the hind end by going through some easy trot poles. However, productivity was not an option and he threw his head up, tried to canter them, hit the first pole with his hind end and proceeded to fling himself through the other three, knocking all of them all over the place. I really wish I'd thought to take a picture of where they landed, I was cracking up. We did eventually get through them once halfway decently, so we quit there and I walked him another 15 minutes to cool out.
|Excuse me human I just worked REALLY hard plz insert carrots thanks.|
Spring is hard for horses sometimes. I had a discussion with a good friend the other day about her horse and how he had been completely unmanageable in the indoor one day and also outside the day before when she was trying to ride, and shouldn't he know better because he's 18 now. We talked about ways she could have potentially done something differently to de-escalate and regain productivity (there was nothing she could have changed) and I chimed in that at 18, her horse did not require a training moment. It's not like he was a baby or green and needed to be calmly introduced to a situation and worked through it as a training moment. Her gelding is a grown ass horse who knows his job, and does it very well. He didn't need a training moment, he needed the space to be a springtime psycho as he does every year, and they'd try again tomorrow. She lunged him, he got his sillies out, and last night she had a wonderful ride that I was so excited to hear about.
Goose is also a well-trained horse who knows his job. Last night wasn't a training moment, it was him just needing to shift his brain into place and be fresh for once and I mostly gave him the space to do that by keeping my expectations reasonable (poles were a dumb idea, my bad) and letting him work out his energy. He never escalated, and for that I'm super proud of him. All in all it was a decent ride, we got in a lot of trot and canter work so we'll pretend it was a planned conditioning ride, and I'll see how it goes tonight.
|Sometimes you need a snack while lounging in your poop palace.|
The spring sillies are real, and in case anyone else is wondering what took over their grown-ass horse's brains this month, it's the spring fairies most likely and don't worry, hopefully they'll be back to normal with some understanding, human lungeline sessions, and a couple more weeks of gorgeous weather before the summer heat sets in.
I'm off to New Jersey this weekend so unfortunately the goon will have probably a full week off. He'll be thrilled by the break though, so we'll be back at it the second week of April.
|Also it's already fly season and Goose wanted the world to see how fashion-forward he is.|