I got to ride Houdon!
Earlier in the week, Tina offered to let me ride him. I beamed at the idea, and today was the day.
He was out in the big field and it was drizzling when I got to the barn, so I went to get him in a raincoat. He came right along with me, whinnying the ENTIRE way to the field gate, but quieting down the minute we walked into the barn. He's kind of an eccentric old man, but I've always liked him.
In case you don't remember who he is, Houdon is the little chestnut Morab owned by Tina who's accompanied Lily and me on our trail rides since we first arrived at this barn. He's in his 20's, survived a thyroid tumor that had to be resected surgically, and a case of founder about a year and a half ago. To see him today and watch him move, you'd never know it. He does lower level dressage, and I've watched a couple of Tina's lessons with Carolyn. He is a lovely mover when you get him working correctly. He has a true extended trot, with toe flicking and suspension: the real deal.
He was a lot of fun to ride. He was pretty much exactly the way I'd imagined. His walk has an ambling quality to it; his collected trot is sittable, but once you get him going, you really do have to post. He has a very smooth rocking horse canter.
Tina rides him with a dressage whip, which I imitated and then ended up dropping on the floor towards the end, because I was having no problems keeping the boy at the pace I wanted. Tina's rides on him are pretty long, usually about an hour average. We did about 45 minutes, including a 10 minute walk warm-up and 10 minute walk cooldown. It was a straightforward session: walk, trot, canter; straight lines, diagonals, and large circles. I basically wanted to get a feel for him without tiring him. My fave was the canter-trot transition: we'd go once around the arena at the canter, followed by a 20m circle at the canter, and then transition down to his big trot. So much fun! It was an easy session for him-he only sweated under the saddle, but I realized exactly how out of shape (riding-wise) I am right now! We did some light counter-bend to bend at the end at the trot on a 20m circle, and at that point it was easy for him. So basically he needs a 25 minute warm-up to get nice and soft and bendy. Not unusual for a horse his age.
He never tested me and didn't even seem fazed by the fact that someone different was riding him today. Tina had mentioned no one other than herself had ridden him for the past 3 years. I think he liked my riding; he seemed as happy and willing while working with me as he is with his mom.
|He's a good boy; it didn't take much coaxing to get him up close to the mirror. And then he was like, "Whatevs."|
After that, I took Lily out. I had put an ice boot on her right front leg and moved her to her regular stall while I rode Houdon.
The swelling hadn't gone down much, and it was pretty hot despite the ice. Today it seemed more localized to the inside of the fetlock. I clipped the leg with my 40 blade, trying to find a scratch or fungal infection to explain it. Nothing. The skin was smooth. I did discover that she was sensitive about having the inside of that leg clipped, which might or might not be significant.
I tacked her up and just walk-lunged her in the indoor with side reins on. She only tried to act up twice. Each time she gave a single gallop stride, then whoa-d and walked on at my command without barely a pause.
She looks great at the walk. We did 30 minutes.
|Leg after icing, walking, cold hosing and icing again. Appears normal as long as you don't touch it.|
I want the Back on Track wraps.
All this rain is the remnants of a tropical storm, Andrea. No escaping them...