The cold snap has broken here in the great white north. Yesterday, it was up to 20F. Today, it will go up to 30F. I haven't even buttoned up my winter work coat or worn gloves in the last two days. Our furnace is occasionally turning off and not working overtime in a desperate attempt to keep the apartment marginally warm. It's amazing.
Last night, I headed to the barn. I'd spent all day thinking about what kind of ride I wanted to plan after a week and a half off. Sure, he'd walked around for about 45 minutes on Monday, but he hadn't had any proper work in 10 days.
The more I thought about that, the more I re-thought the idea of riding at all. I decided to longe. As it turned out: good decision!
I started with a good hard curry all over to loosen his muscles and dig in to his coat, since I hadn't been grooming him much in his time off either - the barn picks his feet out 2-3x a day so I knew he wasn't exactly suffering, plus I felt bad pulling his blanket just to groom him for 10 minutes. (There's no logic there, I know.)
Then I put on his surcingle and the chambon, twisted the reins of his bridle up into the cheekpiece to get them out of the way, and we headed into the ring. Almost immediately, I was very glad I had longed! He was a bit keyed up and antsy while I was attaching the longe line, but I attributed that to the fact that I'd pulled him from his stall just as the other horses were getting their grain, the poor baby.
I sent him out on the longe line, and before I even had time to bring up the whip to point at his hindquarters, he exploded. Buck, fart, crowhop, take off, you name it. Two whole circles around me! I know, some of you with very "up" horses are laughing at me right now but this is Tristan. Any bucking exuberance is extraordinary. I have to admit when he first took off I was laughing too hard to really pull him back, but he eased up nicely when I asked him too.
He was clearly a bit stiff all around, and I was glad both that I'd grabbed the chambon and that I was longeing. He clearly relaxed and came through bit by bit through the whole session, which lasted about 25 minutes. He still had some energy at the end, but I hadn't been looking to burn energy, just to loosen him up, and he was coming through quite beautifully in both directions at the walk and the trot. He even made some attempts to stretch in the canter, something we've been working on a lot.
He was generally saucy through the whole session, and would occasionally stop and turn in. When I sent him back out in the direction I wanted him he would snort and let fly with his back feet and prance around a few strides before settling in. Nothing really naughty, more playful and just a touch uncooperative and spunky.
Tonight, I'll get back on him and do a more thorough ride, probably incorporating poles.
In a horsekeeping note, after a three-round botulism vaccine (!), all the barn horses are now on round bales. Tris is very, very happy. The barn manager mentioned that she was a teensy bit worried about Tris - thought he looked a little bloated when he came in - but he laid down and took a nap and then pooped a lot. So...just a pig.