Since coming off his 6 1/2 weeks of no work while recovering from 2 separate hoof issues, Alfie has had a definite spring in his step. He is more forward and only wants to trot. And when he doesn’t get his way, he lets his opinion be known.
You might not think that a 6 1/2 break from working was a big deal, but it wasn’t just that we didn’t ride for those weeks. It was that Alfie was pretty much confined to his stall for the majority of it. Alfie thankfully didn’t put on any extra weight by being in his stall but he lost muscle. He wasn’t able to be turned out in his field, which is rather large and has a nice hill to go up and down all day. So getting him back to work is a bit of a tricky balancing game. On the one hand, if Alfie feels good and wants to trot great but on the other hand, if his muscles aren’t strong enough he can hurt himself.
We’ve had a little taste of spring the last week or so with temperatures going into the upper 50s to 60s. The warmer weather does a lot of good for Alfie’s arthritis, and when I rode him on Tuesday and Wednesday – boy did he fly. Today, the temperature was more normal for this time of year, upper 40s with wind, and Alfie was more stiff today and didn’t have as much forward as last week. So our warmup was a bit longer today.
One of the things Alfie loves to do is walk and trot weaving in and out of cones. You know, those bright orange cones that are all over the roads these days to alert you to a giant pothole, yep, I’m talking traffic cones. My trainer Kari referred to Alfie’s speed and agility through the cones as gymnastic work. So today, we were gymnasts. Alfie sees the cones and immediately picks up speed. As we weave in and out of the cones, Alfie gets faster and tighter with each pass of the cones.
Something that I also haven’t had to deal prior to his injuries were his opinions or tantrums. Prior to his injuries, our rides had been tantrum free for several months. That isn’t the case now. He has brought them back in full swing. But something that has changed for the better is how I handle them.
Now, all horses have tantrums and opinions, and Alfie’s are on the mild side, but they are enough to be a challenge for anyone who is new to riding him. And for many years, those tantrums scared me. But you know what – I’m not scared anymore. I’ve always known what to do when he has one, I know to turn him into a circle and get back on track with what we were doing. But when you are scared and lack confidence, the simple solution of how to deal with the issue, well it might as well been a bucking bronco I was riding – when you are scared, you are scared.
So where did my confidence come from? Riding other horses. Riding other horses that you don’t know very well, that you don’t have a relationship with yet, and where a trusting bond hasn’t been formed. Having Alfie out of commission for almost 2 months really forced me to get out of my comfort zone and broaden my riding experience. Maestro the Magnificent helped bring to the surface the confidence I’ve needed for Alfie. I am so grateful for that.❤️🐴