Birthday Boy

Today Poe turned 5 — happy birthday, little dude! I completely forgot to bring my camera to the barn, so only have a few bad cell pics. I took him up to graze in the trailer parking area after our ride, and he was way more interested in stuffing his face than holding still and looking glamorous.

The weather’s been kind the last few days, and the back field has dried out enough that we were able to go trot and canter (!) along the highest areas. The middle stuff is still pretty soggy, and I didn’t even venture toward the lowest points. He was really excited to be out there and, all things considered, a very good boy. He only took off on me once — not sure what prompted it, but he tucked his hiney under and blasted off. I circled him around and scolded him, then continued trotting. He broke to a canter and we had a pretty big discussion about how that’s Not Allowed — and after that he was pretty wonderful. He still gained speed quite a few times, but he listened pretty well to my reminders, and kept his head together. We did lots of trotting and cantered the length of the field three or four times, always going away from the tractor road. I didn’t feel we were quite ready to be cantering toward home yet.

I’ve still been struggling with motivation. I love being out there, and something about being in the saddle triggers this sort of amnesia. I don’t even know to appreciate it while I’m riding; everything else just *goes away* so completely that I’m not even aware it’s gone. It’s pretty amazing. But what’s left is still often frustration with myself for not being better. We’re on a bit of a flatwork plateau right now and I just can’t find it in me to push through it. So I wimp out and meander up the road. I’ve been looking a bit listlessly at the competition calendar — we just haven’t had a chance to school anything, so it’s hard to feel prepared or excited. So, I’ve been sort of taking it easy on myself, and telling myself it’s okay not to be In Training. That it’s okay for right now to let this be about trying to find some peace. That maybe it’s better to let this be the one safe, easy thing in my life. It doesn’t have to be a drive or an ambition to be a balm.

Though saying that — I have to admit I am also staying open to that feeling coming back, and a big part of me hopes it does. I would like to be able to lose myself in hard work — just not if it’s going to feel like one more chore or frustration.

Luckily I don’t think Poe cares at all. He doesn’t have any competition goals, or timelines, or heartache. He is loving his buddies and the new spring grass and the sunshine; I am striving to follow his lead.


I’ve been really lax about posting, I know. Just not a ton going on. It’s finally spring (YAY) — which means riding outside, but also a lot of mud. And rain. And mud.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but this past winter I started giving Poe a treat every time I get him from his paddock. He can be kind of mouthy, and definitely would like to be in your pocket all the time, so I keep pretty strict about when I feed him — which for a long time was only after he was done working. But then I started thinking it would be pretty awesome if he came to meet me at the gate on really cold days. He already did sometimes, because he’s just a friendly, curious guy — but I thought I could improve on that. So I started bringing him a little something. And it has turned into an absolute blessing now that his paddock is a mud pit. Sometimes he thinks about it for a little while before trekking over, but (knock on wood) he comes to me pretty consistently. Good pony!

The back field and both outdoor arenas have mostly been too wet for riding the last couple weeks, so we’ve been doing road work. It’s tough because neither of us wants to be inside right now, but I also worry a lot about his feet and the gravel road. He took a nasty chunk out of one of his back hooves last fall, and while he’s never been off on it he does still have a hairline crack that runs all the way up to the top of the hoof, and another hairline crack in a front hoof, and he’s chipping a little up front. I know standing around in the mud all day is not helping, so mostly we walk up and down the dirt road, mixed in with some trotting and a little cantering. The walking has become boring. Still, I know the harder surface and hill work is good for him. Not so sure about the cantering (though it IS good for his mental health — he was so, so, so happy on Monday after I let him gallop up the hill).

So, I mentioned that Poe can be kind of a mouthy guy. I’ve always discouraged this; I was taught that you never ever let a horse mouth at you. But last night I was grooming him and he turned and started nuzzling at me (which he always does), and I steeled myself and let him. I have to admit it was hard at first: I kept expecting him to put his teeth on me. Not out of malice, but because our skin is a lot more delicate than horses’ and he just wouldn’t know better. But he didn’t. He just lipped at my shoulder in the most gentle, sweet way while I scratched his chest and neck. It was that kind of bonding moment that makes your inner thirteen-year-old die of happiness, and it made me a little sad that I hadn’t trusted him a lot sooner.

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