February 18, 2012

February Body Condition Photo and Outdoor Ride

It's been a while, hasn't it?  It's been a rough week at work and at the gym, and with my normal weekday riding lesson moved to Sunday due to an outside clinician, I haven't seen the pony in a week!  But I fixed that today, with an outdoor ride.  But first!  It's time for our first monthly body condition photo! 

He's coming out of winter very nicely, looking like a pony that has spent a good deal of time with his face buried in a round bale.  I'd say he's about a six on a body condition score right now, and this is with getting a handful of Tribute Kalm N' EZ and a scoop of flaxseed once a day.  Love these hardy breeds!  Topline muscling is improving, and will continue to do so as he learns better how to carry himself.

Now for the blooper reel, aka all of the pictures I had to take in order to get the semi-decent one above.  Why is it so easy to get pictures of this pony in which his head looks massive and his body looks tiny?  More than any other horse I've owned, he's so good at making himself look awful in photos.
Massive head, tiny body, no feet.

Distracted head-shaking pony (but a nice shot of his lovely shoulder angles).

Is it just me?  I think he looks like a hot dog with legs here.  A cute hot dog, but a hot dog nonetheless.

Well...this just didn't go well at all.
Today was our second ride in the outdoor.  You may remember the first outdoor arena ride.  He wasn't spooky today, but he had a quick walk going and was much more interested in turning his head to look at his pasturemates than anything else. 

I decided to use that very fast, forward walk to my advantage by very dramatically asking for that walk plus more, to where he was almost breaking into a trot, and then very dramatically slowing the pace of my gliding seatbones to ask for a more compressed walk.  It took once or twice, but those big, dramatic, flag-waving signals were exactly the stimulus he needed to focus on me, and to realize that the outdoor means work just like the indoor does.  Subtlety would have been lost on his brain today.

So the lesson was primarily an elementary walk school, with lots of transitions within the gait, and down to the halt, and lots of figures.  I asked for softening on the inside rein, and I focused on giving him a consistent, obvious "space" in which he was to work - this space did not allow for turning his head to look at his friends in their pasture, as he found out.  When I had what I wanted everywhere except in the very far corner nearest his pasture, I asked for the trot, and was stunned to find that he gave me a steady, appropriate, non-rushing rhythm.  It seemed that walk work really put him in the right frame of mind for work, even outside.

In the end, it's all about communication.  He's like a kindergartener that doesn't understand the difference between playtime and work time.  I'm the teacher trying to come up with the words to tell him that we can have class on the playground or on a field trip just the same as we do in the classroom.  And we really do get a little closer with every outdoor ride.


  1. He looks great, Jen. I love flax seed. My guys live on flax seed, beet plup and hay cubes with a dash of balancer pellet.
    It must have been wonderful walk day. Comrade had the best walk today too.

  2. He's looks great! I so envy the easy keeper!