Monday, April 5, 2010

One Week Back

...only 7 1/2 left! Haha no, I'm not really thinking about it that way (though it's actually pretty crazy to realize how short this quarter is! Got to make the most of every moment). It feels really good to be back; I'd forgotten what it's like to be in the company of such wonderful supportive people and in the reach of such diverse and amazing resources.

I have to admit though, despite the happiness of coming back, that it's been a pretty low week. I've just been feeling super flat; the way that things ended with Gina really upset me and those feelings stayed with me a lot longer than I expected. I know I haven't really talked about what happened here, and I don't plan to: I'll just say that it was not in any way, shape, or form the way I'd hoped to leave things off.

Fortunately, the group of friends I have here is pretty amazing, and they've been doing a good job keeping me from moping too much. And, even better, Ringo has been amazing this week and Kiki is back in work (though she's been a little more... umm... "erratic" in her work haha!). Ringo has never felt this relaxed in all the time I've had him. He's actually heavy in the bridle sometimes, of his own accord, which is not something I think I've ever felt from him before! Usually I feel like I have to wheedle every ounce of contact out of him, and just beg him not to stack up against me. These past few days, though, we've been cantering around on the buckle with his neck loose and back swinging. Even his transitions, which he usually fully exploits to drop the contact for a second, have been relaxed, forward, and stretching down. Yesterday I cantered over some polls and had to really think about keeping his neck UP, which I'm not sure has EVER been a problem before. I'm not complaining! Seeing him this chill makes me realize how wound up he was at Rancho. And how can I keep him this way?

I have several theories for the change. First, I think he likes his stall better at Stanford because, while the bedding isn't deep, they have this cushion technology which makes the floors of the stalls really comfy and inviting. At Rancho the floors were rubber mats that were also extremely thin-bed: Ringo (and half the other horses at the barn) had serious rubs on his elbows and hocks from having to lie directly on the mats. So, because it wasn't as comfortable, I don't think he ever really lay down or relaxed in his stall at night, whereas at Stanford I've gotten news from the night grooms that he does a lot of rolling and napping in his stall. Also, the walls of the stalls at Stanford are fully paneled, whereas at Rancho they had bars from midway up. Now, I personally like the barred stalls better, because they seem so much ore convivial for a social creature like the horse. However, Ringo's neighbor at Rancho was a HUGE DICK, and I could see Ringo not liking being constantly harassed while he was trying eat, rest, etc. Meanwhile, at Stanford, his stall is like a little privacy box: he can look out and see his neighbors if he wants (his across the aisle neighbor is the horse I used to groom for, Zwansea, and is probably the friendliest horse on the planet), but he can also retreat and chill on his own if he wants. Knowing Ringo's personality as I have, I think it makes sense that he would prefer this setup, even if I don't think it's ideal for most horses.

Second, I think he enjoys his turnout more. The turnouts at Stanford are all in a row next to one another, so all the horses are in a big group. Yet, at the same time, each one is big enough that a horse can remove itself to a corner for some "alone time" as well. I think this suits Ringo pretty perfectly, as he is both a very friendly, social guy and a bit of a recluse. The footing is also deeper at Stanford than in his turnout at Rancho, which again I think encourages him to roll more. He's been FILTHY!!! Which was something he never was at Gina's. Ever. I just don't think he ever felt comfortable enough at Gina's to really unwind.

Third, and probably most importantly, I've changed his grain. He was on a Nutrena sweet feed called XTN at Gina's which I actually thought I liked quite a bit and didn't think much about. It definitely helped him put on some weight and muscle that he'd been lacking through the fall. However, I'm now thinking that the XTN was a little too much. I know it's supposed to have some sort "cool energy" technology but, now that I've seen him off it, I'm still thinking it was hotting him up a bit unnecessarily. He's now on the school grain for the moment, which is a basic low-fat, low-protein, high-fiber pellet. When he starts working more than 30 min a day again he's going to need more calories, but at the moment he's happy as a clam. When the time comes to get him back into "real" grain, I'm just going to have to investigate our options much more closely to find what's right for him.

Kiki, unlike Ringo, has been a firecracker since coming back from her little break! I don't blame her, because this is definitely the most atmospheric barn she's ever been at (even more than the show at Three Day!), the weather's been terrible, and she's been out of work for a week. She definitely made an interesting impression her first day, when she spent most of the ride leaping and flailing around the arena while all the big fat Eq horses stared on bemusedly! Fortunately, every ride I've had on her has been better than the one before it, so I'm thinking she'll be back to her old self soon enough. She definitely also loves her new digs at the Mare Motel, though I do think that being pent up has also contributed to her behavior. Going forward, I'm just going to have to be more thoughtful with her routine to compensate.

This week I'm going to try to get my first lesson back - very excited!!

1 comment:

Heidi said...

My trainer has a few horses on Cool Calories to up their calories and not make them hot:

There are a lot of reviews at the bottom of this SmartPak page so you can see what customers thought.

Good luck in class!

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