This was a very Belle-light week, what with bringing Ezhno home on Monday. I’m feeling a little bit guilty that she’s been pushed to the back burner, but I also knew I would have to cut back on my time with her eventually when I got a horse of my own. Still, it’s bittersweet to have her nicker at me in the morning when I know that I’m no longer her “person”. 🙁
Anyways, I already talked a little bit about Tuesday in my original post about purchasing Ezhno, but here’s a quick recap within a recap: Belle and I went for a short ~45 minute ride while Ezhno explored the boundaries of the electric fences the enclose the paddocks outside. We rode in the dressage saddle again and kept our focus on trot-canter/canter-trot transitions, with an emphasis on some more simple lead changes. She did very well, and she enjoyed the frequent walk breaks, since I kept looking out the far end of the arena to make sure Ezhno wasn’t causing any trouble.
When the Pony and I were done, I turned her out in the pasture next to Ezhno to enjoy the sunshine. I thought that would be the end of my day, but the Trainer had me tack Ezhno up and join her 1:00 lesson! I was nervous, since it was his second day at the Stanwood Equestrian Center and he was still pretty looky, so the Trainer hopped on first and then gave me the all clear. We rode for ~30 minutes. He spent a lot of time looking at things and he was a little concerned about what Shiloh and Trainer #2 were doing (answer: getting in a fight that involved a lot of flapping reins and crow hopping), but he was very soft and responsive to my aids whenever I went to redirect his attention. Once I was comfortable I trotted him, too, and I was impressed with how put together he was in such a new, busy place!
Wednesday was my first lesson with Ezhno! I lunged him in the morning, turned him out for about an hour, and then tacked him up in the Trainer’s Crosby XL. We took a couple of minutes to walk around the arena and then I mounted up! He did a great job of dropping his head when I put my leg on him, so we focused on encouraging him to stretch his neck down low without sucking back (he tends to curl a little). We did some turns on the hind/fore in motion, a lot of flexion of his nose/neck, a bit of leg yielding off of the wall, and a lot of circles and changes of direction. We cruised around at our seated trot for a while and then unlocked a nice, steady working trot. The Trainer had me push for some extension, which confused him at first, but he got it. We ended the lesson by checking for any turns on the hind/fore or sidepassing. It was pretty clear he’d never done any of that stuff before, since it just seemed to piss him off (swishy tail is cute, lol). But altogether he was a quick study and I think he’s going to be a very sensible project.
After our lesson, I came back later that night after work to ride again (because I can do that now!). The arena was completely empty and there was a lot going on with a couple of horses and a trailer outside the arena, so I was a little nervous at first, but Ezhno settled down quickly and I never felt like I was unsafe on him. He was a little more consistent with his head/neck and he remembered the idea of an extended trot. We did a lot of circles and serpentines, plus a couple of figure 8’s. My goal right now is just to start getting him into shape with a lot of trot time! 🙂
Ezhno got his shots on Thursday. I rode him twice, once for a couple hours before the vet saw him and then for another light ride after his shots (recommended by the vet). He was more level-headed during our rides—less curling, more consistency, not as much whinnying to other horses—and his working trot was more active, too. We did more serpentines/figure 8’s, and we walked over ground rails for the first time! He figured them out pretty quickly, although he wasn’t a huge fan of them while the Show Buddy was throwing them over the side of the arena. We also did a little more turn on the hind/fore and sidepass work (and he was still mad about it, ha ha).
Friday my mother came out to see Ezhno, so I hopped on him and took him for a spin in the arena (while Trainer #2 worked with another horse and a couple of other students rode their lease horses). I’m already completely comfortable on him at the walk and the trot, and I felt more than ready to canter him, but I decided to leave that for next week’s lesson. We did a lot more trotting, though. He’s got a really comfortable gait—put the dressage saddle on him and it’s like sitting on a cloud.
My grandparents were in town on Saturday, so I took them up to meet Ezhno. It was very rainy out, so I groomed Ezhno up and then put him through his paces on the lunge line so that he could stretch his legs a little bit (and show off for his audience, of course!). I also used Olson’s wither tracing guide to take some measurements of his back, plus I took some conformation-style photographs of his sides and screwed a Ready to Ride plaque into his stall, since he’ll be in training with them next month.
Sunday, unfortunately, was a bust. I went down to Olson’s tack shop armed with my brand new wither tracings, only to have them set aside right from the get go. I was a little concerned, but I went against my gut and trusted the salesperson’s deduction that my cute new paint needed a medium/wide tree. Unfortunately, I sat in a dozen expensive saddles, took three of them back to the stable with me on trial, and quickly found out that all of them were too wide for Ezhno. It’s sad because now I’ve got ~$6,000 worth of saddles that I need to take back on Tuesday, but it’s also exciting because it means that a whole new section of saddles that are hopefully in my budget are now on the table.
After the disappointment of discovering none of the saddles fit, I tacked Ezhno up in the Trainer’s Crosby XL and his new Ovation Ultra Raised Padded Fancy-Stitched Bridle (which looked fantastic) and cruised around for a little while before I called it a week and retreated home to do some leather conditioning and add some holes to the noseband.