Monday, November 23, 2009

The Good, The Bad And The Chickens

Saturday was a day for farm chores. My husband finally bought me a big dump cart to haul behind the tractor, it holds a full pasture's full of poo in one trip! No more pushing the wheel barrow around the pastures for me! So I picked all the pastures, then got a ton and a half of stone dust to put in front of the stalls. Over time the horses hooves have dug out ruts in front of their stalls, and the ruts fill with water when we get a heavy rain. No good. So we filled the ruts in. We'll need another ton of stone dust to finish the job, but that can be a project for another day. After all my chores, I really did not feel up to a ride on Saturday.

Sunday I did get a ride in, though. I decided to work on an exercise I read in Dressage Today. Hilda Gurney has a column in Dressage Today and suggested transitions within gaits, making the walk, trot and canter cover more or less ground without changing the tempo, as a way to improve impulsion. He was a little resistant at first, but that's to be expected since we haven't really done anything in forever. We were working through it nicely when the chickens attacked.

I have a group of 5 young roosters that are just reaching maturity. They like to spar and crow and act big and tough, as young males do. Unfortunately, one of them decided to leap up onto the fence post in a flurry of flapping wings and crow quite loudly right next to the ring as Spider and I were going by. Poor Spider was scared half to death.

I don't know how Spider came by the name Spider, but I like to fancy that it came from his spook. When Spider spooks, he scrambles madly forward and legs go absolutely everywhere. It's like something from a cartoon. You can actually see his legs paddling madly from the saddle and, from that vantage point, if I didn't know better, I would swear he had eight legs. Just like a spider.

After our fowl encounter, Spider was quite upset and tense. So we shifted gears to something not quite as subtle, but still challenging enough to keep his mind off the scary chickens and on me. I asked for canter and did changes through the trot on a figure eight. Right lead canter to left lead was lovely, left lead to right was a bit of a disaster. Left is always Spider's bad direction, I believe it's most horses' bad direction. It all goes back to Spider not reaching up with his left hind, which then means I don't have good contact with my outside rein. Then Spider falls onto his left shoulder, which pulls me off to the left side. We're both completely unbalanced and nothing gets accomplished. Our combined lack of fitness does not help the matter.

After a few ugly attempts, I decided to regroup. I let him walk on a loose rein, fixed my position and we both had a breather. Then I picked the reins back up, got a nice, steady canter left and said "Now listen Spider, If we do this right, we're done. So lets just suck it up and get this done." And that's just what we did.


  1. Good work - both all that hard barn work (when you're done over there come visit me - I have plenty of that sort of thing you could do here :)) and the riding.

  2. Poor Spider. I hate chickens too, so I totally understand being rattled.

  3. OK I have picked myself up off the ground and wiped away my tears of laughter. Sorry but I am picturing you and Spider deep in concentration when all of a sudden this chicken attacks on the fence post!!!!!!! And I can imagine Spiders legs going everywhere!!!!! Glad your both ok and you got that canter lead!!!!!

  4. OK, it keeps happening....I post a comment and it disappears. Darn!!

    Poor Spider. I mean, it's hard enough trying to focus on dressage without being "attacked" by a monster rooster!

    You certainly accomplished a lot on Saturday. No wonder you were tired. I need some fill too, but it's going to have to wait until I am back at full steam after surgery.

    However, I think I need to scrape off the top layer of mud first.


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