Talk about a full day for Alfie. I arrived at the barn and gathered up all of Alfie’s winter blankets for the cleaning service. I then broke up a brick of hydro hay and made his lunch. As I’m walking up to his field to get him, the sun is blazing and here comes the heat. As I get to the top of the hill, Alfie hears me shuffling along. I wave and he runs to the gate to meet me. He bends his head so I can give him a kiss on his nose and we head down to the barn.
It’s summer and flies are normal for this time of year. But because it’s been so hot the flies have gone crazy and there seems to be a lot more than usual. Alfie and fly spray…it’s a no go. Not sure exactly what frightens him about the spray but you can’t spray him. Alfie’s skin is super sensitive so our guess is that he had a bad reaction to it at some point and is now afraid of it if it’s coming out of a spray bottle. Roll on fly spray he is ok with but that really only works for small areas not his entire body. So what do you do to help protect your horse from the flies when you can’t spray it on him – you spray it on a sponge and wipe him down with it. It’s not nearly as effective but it’s a start.
I wipe down Alfie and get him all tacked up for our lesson. We head towards the mounting block, he’s lined up nicely, I climb 2 steps and sure enough, he swings his ass away. So I climb down the block and I do the exercise I learned last weekend. I take my dressage whip and tap him on his side so he moves his butt over. I tap him a second time and now he is lined up at the block. I back him up a few steps and then climb back up the block. I grab the reins and I’m about to get on when he picks up his head and I can just tell he’s about to take a step. So I tell him in the nicest of firm voices “ugh ugh don’t do it.” And he changed his mind about moving and I was able to get on. Score a point for Judy. 😊
We start our warmup and realize that Alfie seems a bit stuck, he’s not injured or lame but he just doesn’t seem to want to move. I mention to my trainer that his hoofs are a tad too long and that’s the reason. Hoofs are like finger nails, they grow and need to be trimmed. Since Alfie has shoes on his front feet, when the hoof gets long the shoe feels tight. Have no fear Alfie, the farrier is coming today to take care of your feet. But since he’s uncomfortable, we do all of our lesson work at a walk.
During our lesson several of the other horses are being brought into the barn. Alfie decides he must start neighing for them which is cute and all except not when you are trying to have a lesson. When a horse neighs their entire body shakes which feels down right strange when you are on them. To help combat that we have to keep Alfie’s mind busy, so we work on our dressage exercises and after a few minutes he forgets about his friends.
Here’s the kicker at doing exercises at a walk – it’s hard. It makes the horse work all of their muscles which is hard work. After about 10 min of working on our dressage test, Alfie starts with his dramatic head toss complete with flying spit. At one point he got a big glob of spit over his head which landed right in front of me. 🤮 I congratulated him for completely grossing me out, but to his disappointment the ride continued. This is where his crankiness came in. He didn’t want to work today. He had several more head tossing spit flying moments but we kept on riding anyway. A year ago outbursts like this would’ve scared me enough to end the ride but not anymore.👍🏻
We end our lesson, and head right into a relaxing bubble bath. Alfie is getting so much more comfortable with bath time, my heart just explodes with joy. It took many years to get him comfortable with water and his willingness to trust despite having a scare with water at some point in his life is proof that showing love and kindness and patience can heal.
After his bath, it’s time for lunch and a nap before the farrier comes to give Alfie some new shoes.
Alfie has had some bad experiences in his life with farriers. Most farriers are men and Alfie is more fearful of men than women. So getting shoes and a hoof trim isn’t easy for him. His farrier now is truly an amazing man. He’s taken the time to chat with the vet about Alfie’s specific issues with his feet and tendons so he was able to create truly custom shoes and pads which have made Alfie very comfortable. He also takes his time with him, and has earned his trust. The process takes anywhere from an hour to 2 hours depending on whether the same shoes can be used again or if a new set need to be made. This is my second time seeing Alfie getting shoes and he did very well. He wasn’t nervous, he was calm, except for the flies, but overall he handled it like a rockstar.
It truly is amazing how much love I have for Alfie, and how much love he has for me. There were a bunch of tender moments we shared together today. I’m so blessed to be his human.❤️🐴