Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Playtime for Ponies...

Snuzzles with James
When we were about to leave for the barn I asked Sophie to tell me how cold it was out, as I'd been holed up in my office all day.  She replied that it was "about 60-ish." HUH?  In March, in the coldest winter we've had in ages, all of a sudden it's "60ish?"  I wasn't buying it.  So of course I went down to look at the thermometer and lo and behold, the child was right.  More specifically, it was 63 degrees.

You know how the first warm day makes you feel like putting on shorts and a t-shirt, playing hooky and taking an impromptu road trip to the beach?  Okay, maybe that's not the exact thing you'd do, but you get the point.  You just want to get giddy and throw away the rules for a while.

Soph and I were both feeling this way when we got to the barn.  It was so nice we thought we'd get the horses out of the ring and maybe go for a trail ride. The time change meant we had some light for a while, but the area was still covered in melting snow and ice in some places, and everything else was a mud bog.  Scratch that idea.

We groomed Sug and James while pondering what Plan B should be. We didn't feel like riding, and we were pretty sure the horses could use a change of pace.  After a while we came up with the idea of just going in the ring and simply playing with the .  If you rode as a kid, you may have memories of dragging your horse around, him following like a big old dog, while you tried to get him to jump over jumps with you, walk over obstacles, or play a game of ring tag.

So that's what we did.  We played Tug o' War with lead ropes.  James really enjoys this game, Sug gave two half-hearted tugs and couldn't be bothered any more.  We unfolded a cooler and practiced walking them over it.  We thought it would take a while for Sug and James to trust us enough to walk over it. Nope.  Apparently they trust us, as both just gave us odd looks and then walked right over the cooler.

Walk on cooler?I got this. Easy-peasy. 
Then we set up an L-shaped chute for them to back up through.  That was a giggle, especially as Sug was so sure this exercise would result in treat opportunities that she was overachieving. You could see the wheels turning in her brain, "You want me to step back? Okay.  How about right? You want right?  I can do right. Or left?  Did you want left? I can do that too!  Or did you want back again? Check- I'm on it!"  I only had to back her through it once and on the second time through she zoomed backwards like she was shot from a cannon, stopping only when she got to the other end of the chute, at which point she gave me a look that clearly said, "Ta-Da!  Treat me!"

We did turns on the forehand, turns on the hind end, we trotted over trot poles. James, Sugar and Sophie all did much better at this than I did.  I got tripped up and went ass-over-elbow.  Sug just stood there patiently while I spit out dirt.

You'd think my lack of ability to stay vertical would inhibit me from trying other mildly athletic activities.  Nope.  I'm one of those people you'll see winning a Darwin Award one day.  If this were caveman times, let's just say natural selection would have gotten me a long time ago.  So when Sophie decided to set up a bunch of jumps, well, I figured Sug and I could handle a bunch of cross rails and small verticals.

You know that fancy footing in your arena?  That stuff is HARD to run in!  Seriously, try running the full length of the arena while leaping over a few obstacles and tell me you don't pull up gasping for an oxygen tank to suck on.   Sug thought this was good fun.  As soon as we started trotting Ms. Mare started tossing her head and snaking it back and forth like she does when she's feeling sassy, with the occasional hop-skip just to put a fine point on things.

While The Sainted Mare and I warmed up at the trot, Sophie was tearing around the arena with poor old James trotting doggedly behind, the lead rope stretched to it's full length.  She'd get to a jump and leap over like a gazelle. James would get to the base of the fence, stall out, and then sorta scramble over as if he'd just realized what his role in the situation was.  James was clearly a bit bemused by the situation. "Umm, Soph? I'm confused.  Aren't you supposed to be on top of me when we're jumping?"

Sug and I took our turn.  I was slightly less gazelle-like.  I lumbered towards the fence, figuring I had about 7 strides before takeoff. As I got closer the distance didn't show itself and I started doubting my ability to clear the fence. I managed to get over it, but let's just say I won't be jumping in any hunter derbies anytime soon.  We jumped a few more just for shits and giggles and then wisely called it a night before I got hurt.

Sophie took this video of one of our efforts.  I've always told her she has a pretty skewed outlook on life.  The angle of this video proves that.  BTW, feel free to giggle.  No hard feelings on this end.


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