In reality, this is Winter Riley - a phenomenon which I am quite familiar with, but conveniently forgot about. In spring he is still fresh, but it seems like once he gets outside he feels a lot better about his life and might actually decide to pay attention once in awhile. In winter? Yeah, forget it. He is freshfreshFRESSSSHHHHH and don't you forget it!
The first real glimpses of Winter Riley appeared just before I set off for Christmas vacation, where I had a lesson with the Assistant and he proceeded to leap around, buck, squeal, and take off the entire lesson. There wasn't much to do other than try to steer (and even that didn't work out so well, at times!) and casually try to massage his stride into something that might work and not kill us. I certainly didn't have to worry about the "forward" part of things, but he is totally happy with galloping off into the ether, ignoring my hand, and either burying himself under the jump or taking off from East Africa. And then he is like LOL MOM I'M AWESOME DID YOU SEE THAT HAHA LOVE ME while I am glowering darkly at his perky little ears. Usually, this leads to extended free lunging sessions (which he loves deeply), or being punished by trotting jumps (which he is extremely unamused by) and also wearing his least favorite item of tack ever, the standing martingale.
Oh does he loathe the standing martingale. I first put it on him a few weeks ago after I got sick of him throwing his face into my face. Usually, I ride him without a martingale at all, unless we're out hacking (and that's more for me to grab on to than anything) or in the show ring since he can get a wee excitable from time to time, and that's always the running. But he hasn't worn anything at home since June or so when I just decided it was unnecessary. But now? Oh it is necessary.
As soon as I put it on him, he scowls at me, but his real feelings come out when we start to warm up at the trot. He sticks his neck in the air, as far as the martingale will allow, pins his ears, and trots like a sewing machine until he feels like he has made his point. (I am confident it's the martingale and not saddle fit or something, btw, since I still flat him without it and he goes right to work. The brat.) There is no interrupting this (I have tried.) and if I try to get into him, he just ignores me completely. When he's over it, he's over it, at least.... but I'm pretty sure that thing has saved my life at least ten separate times since I put it on him, so it's totally worth it. Whoo-ee, wild mustang, yeehaw!
Winter Riley shows off some of his moves
Today I had a lesson after being ill most of the week (doesn't it just figure, I'm gone for AGES and then am sick when I come back and can actually ride!) and despite getting sick again halfway through, we managed to do a jump school that was halfway okay and half Winter Riley. The beginning would go well, then he would get all squee-y, totally ignore me in the corners, swap his lead 500 times, and then gallop off. Cute, buddy. Cute.
Regardless, we worked it out, and I managed to ignore his snotty behavior well enough to just make it all happen. We didn't jump huge or anything, I think our biggest jump was around 3'3", and most things were around 3'.
For your entertainment, here is a short video clip. Please ignore my disgusting friends chatting in the background. ;) Also note that I wasn't exactly riding my best; I hadn't jumped in about three weeks and my stomach was in serious revolt (which resulted in me hopping off yon pony and galloping off to the washroom but a few moments later...) so yeah. Excuses, excuses, I know.
Also sorry it's on an iPhone. I personally hate that, but it was all I had available and whatever.
So, aside from dealing with some sort of hellacious stomach bug while simultaneously trying desperately to shed Christmas Weight (actually the two go hand in hand rather well) as well as dealing with an imminent move (not sure if I mentioned that we are moving?) there is... enough going on. As usual. I'm starting to get stressed out about going into boot camp mode for the show season - time for daily workouts, months of no stirrups, and riding as many horses as I can get my hands on... and here I am, fat and sick and I can't really do anything about either right now. So frustrating! I feel like a total sloth in between puking sessions.
I also discovered today that Assistant will be traveling to WEF for the remainder of the season starting mid February, and will be there until April 1. Um? News to me. I was under the impression we were going to have someone doing lessons all winter, but apparently I was sorely mistaken. What, pray tell, is the POINT of having an Assistant if they aren't even going to be here? Who rides the horses that need to be ridden? (well, I will certainly volunteer... maybe this isn't all bad.) More importantly, they'll arrive back in mid April and we'll all be out of lesson and jumping shape, we'll all have gotten hardly any practice during winter, and show season will literally be in a couple of weeks. Extremely deep sigh.
On the brighter side, Trainer (!) is coming back for two days of lessons in early February, which gives me something to work on if I ever stop vomiting. Lack of stirrups, lack of eating, and piles of ponies until then. Bring on boot camp. SOON. Soooooon.......
The last bit of news has to do with Tigger, my dressage sales pony, whom I mentioned in my last post. We are thisclose to having him sold (touch wood) but there is just one teensy tiny detail which needs attending to. I'm really hopeful the deal will be done by midweek this coming week, but who knows at this point. Cross your fingers and pray for me.
Cute Fresh Pony casually sails over an oxer in our lesson today