Have come down with some awful chest cold. Lots of coughing and post nasal drip. Had it about 4 days now. Very annoying, especially the headaches from too much coughing. So I have not been of a mind to do a whole lot with Rugby this past week. I did some groundwork just to keep the ball rolling and tonight I made myself get him saddled up and work toward another ride. We worked in the small arena behind the barn again. All went well. Lunged for respect for about 40 minutes and then into the saddle for about 20 minutes or so to work on exercises of lateral flexion at the walk. And he was a star.
One of the biggest changes I made when I started working with the big guy after the fall was to train myself that this was going to be a new journey. I will miss going on the hunter paces in the fall and heading out to the trails like I was doing with Monty but the only way to give both myself and Rugby a chance was to change my thinking from what I will be missing (for a while) to what fun I will have when this nice, young horse is finished and trained. I decided that my mindset is it will take as long as it takes. If it takes another year before I can try trail riding, that's fine. If we don't attempt to canter or start jumps until next spring, that's okay, too. I see the potential of this young horse and will work at his pace to make him the best beast he can be. And when it's all done, I will have the satisfaction that I did it and I finished it.
He's a big, cuddly puppy of a horse. If he had it his way, he'd want me to hang out with him by his stall door and rub his face forever. You can't show enough love to this big sponge - he just keeps soaking it up.
Some great things to come of all this are: He'll lower his head to the ground for you to remove and put on his halter or bridle. He stands quietly on cross ties with no fidgeting. He'll easily move over for you while on the cross ties by simply gesturing with your hand at his hip. He'll back up with a fingertip on his shoulder. He'll lift his hooves nicely for cleaning and trimming. He will stand quietly for having his mane pulled. He loves to have his belly and chest scratched. He knows that treats only happen after all the work is done and he's returned to his stall and will not mooch on you or try to pick your pockets while you work with him. He leads with respect, he does not crowd you while walking him and if he does, as soon as you stop and send him back, he will back up away and resume walking slightly behind your right shoulder. He's very good at lunging now and will increase and decrease his gait on command. He stands quietly and respectfully while mounting.
Sounds like a pretty nice horse so far, right? That's why I am encouraged to do this at his pace. It's been great with slow but very steady progress.
Another thing I'm loving is his hooves. He's my first barefoot horse and he's got the best hooves I've ever dealt with. In fact, as I am working with him, I think he moves even better now than when I first bought him. My trimmer is doing a great job and Rugby is benefitting from his good, natural hooves.
So, I am in a good place.
Weather permitting, I will try to ride again tomorrow.