I went out to the barn tonight because it's been a couple of days, and of course I also wanted to try the saddles on him, not that I know what I'm doing. But first, I braided his mane. He really loves me to groom the side under his mane, but it's difficult with his mane there, so I braided cheesy chunky "training" (i.e. plain) braids. They're pretty cute, though. And then I scrubbed his neck with the scrubby curry thingie, and he loved it.
We brushed his saddle area, especially, really well, then Nathan brought me the saddles one at a time. First was the tack store Aussie. Trigger glared at me as I approached, and pretended to try to nip me (he never gets close enough to actually feel my elbow when I jut it out toward him, but definitely shows me he's pissy) as I fiddled with the billets and stirrups (I didn't actually cinch it up). There was wither clearance, but not by much, and my weight would have eliminated it. It also didn't look as balanced as it should, in my EXTREMELY inexpert opinion. The second saddle was the partly-synthetic western (skirt, fenders definitely synthetic; jockeys & pommel/horn cover appear to be real leather, seat unknown). He also wasn't very happy at it being on him, and it also appeared not to have enough clearance on his spine.
The last saddle was an Aussie from Craigslist. He actually DIDN'T glare at me or look pissy about it. I didn't cinch it up, but fussed with the billets and stirrups (big fat endurance stirrups), and pressed down on the saddle and wiggled it side to side, and he just stood there looking bored. I hate to anthropomorphize too much, but it sure seemed like he liked that one best. Or at least hated it least. It also had good wither clearance. I couldn't see daylight along his spine, but reached my fingers back from the pommel and forward from the cantle along the spine, and it does appear there's plenty of clearance.
I'm not brave enough to ride him alone yet, though, so that was as far as our adventures with the saddles went. I wanted him to get some exercise though, and didn't feel like lunging him and figured he'd appreciate the break of just being turned loose in the arena, so I headed that direction.
First, I had to open the garage-type doors (but way bigger) to get him out of the barn safely (there's a people door, but that's a bad idea). He pretended that the door bothered him, even though his stall is right next to the garage door, so he must hear it at least a couple times a day, most likely. Anyway, then he saw my car with the trunk gaping open and pretended to be freaked out, and then Nathan climbed a gravel pile, and he pretended to freak out again. Each time, he just snorted a bit and backed up a step or two before I yanked on the rope and told him to walk.
We got to the arena, and I got his attention on me by backing a bit, but he was clearly raring to go. I took the halter off, and as soon as he was free, he took off bucking across the arena to go "talk" to the horse in the dry lot that borders the arena. That horse didn't seem to care to much whether Trigger talked to him or not, but was happy enough just to stand near the fence and watch. Trigger pranced and pranced, looking quite pretty, but clearly he needed to get the wiggles out. He would also occasionally buck and kick. I really need to spend more time with people who know what they're doing, because I'm not sure whether he was kicking AT me as if to say something, or if I was just in the general direction toward which he was kicking with glee or what.
|Look, he can do Passage!|
|All four feet in the air.|
|Again, all four in the air|
I let him be for a while, then started to actually make him run, then let off, to see if he would come back to me. Nope, still hyper. Then he finally settled down, but not because he wanted to be with me, but because he decided a good roll sounded good. I have some adorable photos of him rolling, but this post is already photo-heavy enough, so I'll save those for a day when I don't have anything to post. :-) Suffice it to say, he got good and dirty, then finally decided he was done. We did a few back, stay, and come forwards (while a train was going by on the nearby tracks, so it was good practice for him to pay attention to me while there were distractions), and I took him back to his stall.
I checked his feet, and then noticed I had some blood on my hand. I didn't remember hurting myself, and the spot where the blood was didn't hurt at all, so I checked, and sure enough, Trigger had a little owie on his left hind. I'm not sure if he kicked up a pebble, or actually got himself with a hoof or something (either while he was goofing around, rolling, or getting back up again). It didn't seem to be very bad, but since he had JUST rolled and gotten dirt all over, I took him to the hose and hosed it off. That was a bit of an adventure. He acted like he didn't like the hose and danced all over the place. I didn't want Nathan involved, so it was just me trying to both hold the horse (there was no place to tie near the hose) and the hose, and get the two to meet somewhere convenient for me. But finally he allowed me to hose his front feet, then his hinds, and I got the hose onto the owie for a bit, then let him graze for a bit and put him away.
I chatted a bit with the owner of the pregnant mare, and like all horse people with a newbie who will listen, she had all sorts of advice. I need to lunge the crap out of him in the round pen, especially before riding (whereas SweetPea suggested we get him in a calm, slow state of mind before riding, rather than attempting to wear him out). I need to ride him in the round pen when I go to ride him again (this is not a bad idea). I need to feed what she feeds (some special feed that looks like dog food, smells like apples, apparently contains seaweed, and she claims will build up 50 pounds of muscle in two weeks of just standing around). I've got so much advice coming from so many sides, I don't know what to think.
I have a chiropractor coming out, but not for around 10 days or so. It's occurred to me that the cinchiness and overall bitchiness could be from ulcers, so I might buy some remedy for that to see if it helps. He doesn't seem to mind being in his stall/pen, and has one neighbor, but I worry that he'd really be happier and healthier in a herd and with more room to roam, but this boarding place, which originally told me they had both pasture and dry lot available, and with herd situations in both, apparently only uses the pasture for turnout because they're afraid of founder, and the drylots are for one, maybe two horses, though at least they border each other, so once he goes there, he'll have neighbors and be able to get more exercise than he currently does. Ugh. So many things to think about and worry about, and I don't know what's the right thing to do, most of the time.
Welcome to "parenthood," except with a whole new learning curve than when I became a parent to my son.