The Weather is No Picnic

Mouse had lost weight in the three, count them, three weeks AJ had been away from the farm due to weather. It had been mentioned to her, by a partboarder at the private breeding facility that they only came up to ride if it was minus 10 or warmer. Otherwise, you were just torturing the animal, and yourself, for no good reason, right. And since the weather was so cruel that season, it was a long time between rides and by the time you got to ride again, they'd forgotten what they'd learned in the last training session anyway, right? What was the point? Just give the horses and yourself a winter vacation.

AJ had then spent the following days, day by day, pining to a trip to the stable in minus 25 and worse. The first thing she did in the morning on her three or four possible riding days each week was to check her phone for the weather. She was keeping it at the side of the bed, with her reading glasses. Morning after morning she was disappointed to sleep in, or resigned to work on life chores that needed to be addressed, instead of heading to the barn as she wanted to.

Finally, it was a pleasure to reconnect with her little liver chestnut. He had some bad blanket rubs, but he was back to the inner jacket that fit him better under his rain sheet, so she hoped that was already fixed for the better.

The chore girl that day had retorted to the farrier that they weren't that chatty because the head trainer wasn't in the barn at the moment, and that the others were working! Then she corrected herself, well one of us is working and one of us is here for pleasure… AJ felt chided for her internal thoughts that she was a horse trainer too.

She knew he had lost weight, because she kept adjusting the saddle and it didn't look right. Then, doing up the girth, for sure it went up extra holes, it was up to 4 on both sides by the time she mounted.

It was a quick "work-out" because she had to wait for access to the arena before getting started. If he wasn't so disruptive in there he would be more welcome to share it while the head trainer rode various mounts, but as he was, they had to wait for the gap between training rides and the staff coffee break, in order to get started.

He was his usual athletic, dramatic self on the lunge line. At one point, he kicked up dirt that got in her eyes, but her hands were so full, with the lunge line and whip and his antics, that she couldn't even wipe a tear or rub the itch.

By the time she mounted, he felt tired out underneath her. He was actually kind of a lazy horse, so she didn't understand why he always did all that. She warmed up his back with just a few quick laps in posting trot, and then put him into more of a frame for a round or two, figure or two, in sitting trot, and then asked for a little canter. She asked on his good side first, successfully and then changed direction. On the right rein, she asked for canter three times and got the wrong lead. For the next attempt, she'd chosen a different corner, and put in a little volte first, leg yielding him off the inside leg. For the transition she used her voice, instead of her outside leg. Success! She verbally praised him instantly, pleased she could so confidently tell it was the correct lead for a change, and she patted his neck as he cantered down the long side. With the transition back to trot, and then walk, he was further rewarded. She walked him several steps and then dismounted. She could cool him out, while schooling his manners in hand, as she walked with him around the arena.

Afterwards, she'd kept remembering the sweet expression he had as she brushed his face. He'd actually looked affectionate for the first time! She also enjoyed using the rubber curry in circles on his neck, because it was obvious that felt good for him too. A Happy Valentine's!

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