Merry Christmas, Christmas Pony, Christmas Cooking (Post Recovered)

In this very scatterbrained year, we wish you a Merry Christmas (if you observe that) and wonderful winter holiday of whatever kind you prefer, previous to, overlapping, or after Christmas.

Rags and I had a good ride this morning, while the Christmas chocolate fudge pecan pie cooled on its rack (yes, I started it immediately after breakfast) and the ham hid in the fridge.  Tacking up was easier, mounting was a little easier, and Rags appeared eager to get out in the world (and get the work over with.)  He let me know when 5 minutes had passed, and nearing 10 he really let me know, but today’s goal was 15 minutes.  “But…” he indicated by stopping and not moving on.   Little nudges with my heel didn’t budge him.  Nor did “Walk on.”   I tapped his shoulder very firmly and said “Walk ON” in a much firmer voice, and he walked off.  The goal is quick response to very light stimuli, but sometimes…  And when he started moving again, he was walking just as fluently as before, no sign of discomfort or lameness or anything.   He also wants to stop just inside the gate, coming in, which is where, originally, I got off.  Now I’m going to the portable stall (halfway across the north horse lot) so I can use its top rail to take some weight off the left stirrup as I try to get my right leg over the saddle.  Day before yesterday I could tell it *would* work, but today it really worked, although I forgot to keep that leg straight and ended up bringing it, bent at the knee, across the seat of the saddle instead of the straight leg up over the back.  Practice will make, if not perfect, at least improvement.  Apparently, with only 3 rides so far in this series, he’s losing a bit of tummy, because setting the girth at 3 and 3 let the saddle turn some when I mounted.   Last year when I rode him he was “right” at 4th hole on both sides.

We did a lot of twists and turns today, mostly between and around trees and clumps of switchgrass.   He is catching on to my seat cues and leg cues, though he isn’t yet consistent…if he wants to go home, he will try (at least once) ignoring the cue to turn away again.   I asked for a slight (SLIGHT) flexion at the poll today…with his conformation, the likelihood of getting too much flexion there is minimal, whereas with Arabians and many TBs you can get their chin on the chest with ease.  I got about as much as I got in the first rides we did here…a little bit is good because it promotes lifting the back a little and taking more weight on the hind legs.  Eventually.   I tried some leg yielding (which he was just barely doing in previous training) and he showed he remembered it but not well.  Again, no rush…I’m feeling out what he remembers.   He is, on the whole, a pleasant horse to work with because he wants to please (because pleasing brings reward, but also just not a horse full of resistance.  I want to keep that cooperativeness by not pushing him too far or too fast.)

Came in from the ride and post-ride horse stuff (grooming, talking to both of them and distribution of cookies) and started on Christmas dinner–which happened about two.  In between I fed the horses lunch hay.    At some point between the soup appetizer and lunch I packaged the rest of the soup for the freezer (one quart sherbet containers from Blue Bell…I like how they stack in the freezer, also re-use+++.  Lunch was just the three of us, M-, R-, and me.  I made up a new ham glaze, thanks to a Christmas present from the Duhons, some interesting jars of stuff from New Canaan Farms…what caught my attention today was the Raspberry Mustard Spread.   I make a spiced pear glaze with maple syrup (and other things)  but hadn’t gotten a pear, so I combined maple syrup, brown sugar, raspberry mustard, a bunch of spices and a little (I think more would be good) cayenne pepper.   Brushed it over the ham about every 15-20 minutes during the 2 hour baking/heating. Mixed the ham drippings with it for a sauce for potatoes and/or ham, and then added a pat of butter just for luxury.  Was really good.  We’d had an appetizer of homemade bean/vegetable/meat soup (actually both guys ate MORE than an appetizer cup of it!!) , then the glazed ham, potatoes, and finally a slice of chocolate fudge pecan  pie with ice cream.  I am not hungry now, but R- has already had another piece of pie.

After all that, and cleaning up here and moving the now-cooled soup=storage containers to the freezer, we walked out on the land to discuss what trimming needed doing this winter on one of the trails and for some of the young elms in the Near Meadow.  And sometimes we sat down and just enjoyed the beauty.  It had been a beautiful day once the morning fog cleared (slowly!) and by 3:30 in the afternoon the sky was almost clear blue, with temperature in the upper 70sF.   R- trimmed off an osage orange limb and milky sap started dripping out of it (we thought the sap wouldn’t have risen yet, but when we looked more closely at twigs, bud cases were swollen.)   This is EARLY.  On the way back, Tigger informed me that he and Rags were terribly neglected because I was ten minutes late coming to feed them their late afternoon supper.   Clouds have moved in now–supposed to be patchy fog overnight.

(This was supposed to be posted Christmas evening, but I ‘lost’ it on a crowded screen and it showed back up today, Monday the 27th.  I thought I’d deleted it…)


3 thoughts on “Merry Christmas, Christmas Pony, Christmas Cooking (Post Recovered)

  1. I don’t know how they know, but some animal’s sense of time is surprisingly accurate. As I was reading the sentence about Tigger telling you you were late giving them their late afternoon supper, Jake, my German Shepherd, just did his “I’m here in the kitchen where are you?” bark. It was 6.55 pm, he is fed at 7 pm. We don’t have a particular routine each evening that he could be judging the time by so it must be some innate sense.

    You Christmas sounds like a lovely day, and the progress you and Rags are making is very promising.

  2. If you haven’t tried them already, you might want to look at the Icelandic stirrup irons for your English saddle. I bought some for Christmas and they are AMAZING. And wider, which is key since the English saddle gets its heaviest use in winter, with the wider boots. More stable and fewer knee and ankle issues for me.

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