First, I was wondering, did anyone miss it? Yesterday's blog post that is. After 35 straight days, I failed (on purpose) to post. Instead I did some Christmas shopping with Uriah, had a private salsa dance lesson (also with Uriah), and had a wonderful dinner out with (you guessed it), Uriah. What was the special occasion you ask? On the 5th of this month I turned 33 years old. We celebrated a day late because of schedules, but it was a wonderful way to spend the day after my birthday.
Tesoro has been leased for the last 18 months (thanks Joe and Sarinda for taking such good care of him!). Tonight I rode Tesoro for the first time since August. He came home briefly so I could have a horse for the state fair. I had him about two weeks, he had been off for months, so it was quick, intense and not a good relationship builder for him and I. It was a mistake to take such a sensitive horse who is out of shape and do too much. Lesson learned.
Since Tesoro came home on Saturday I let him settle in. He had shoes pulled on Tuesday and today we went for our first ride. He was great while I groomed him and I made a special effort to shower him with affection. I'm not super affectionate with my horses, so I am trying to remember to go the extra mile for this guy. I want Tesoro to do it for me, not for the sake of doing it. With Tesoro, that will be the only way.
Mounting was bad (as I expected). I used use the opportunity to teach him to move his rear end around. We also did some nice backing in circles and moved the hind end from the other side. I was actually getting him to hold still for moments at a time. I finally just got my foot in the stirrup and mounted with him walking away. Stupid and dangerous (by the way, the worst horse injury to date-besides bruised ego-was a broken toe, courtesy of a mounting disaster with Tesoro). But, I think I might try it as a strategy. Stand in the stirrup until he stops walking. It isn't like the ground is that far away with a 13.2 horse, but probably bad for his back.
Anyway, I have decided that I am going to work on getting Tesoro into contact with the bit and engaging his hind end. Tesoro will set his head, but it is entirely false collection and if worked this way it looks like the front end and back end belong to two horses. So I worked on releasing when he would put his head down after throwing it up (in transitions) and pulling him up when he was behind the bit. I'm using the KK bit I borrowed from Elisia (similar to a french link), and that worked well. I gaited just a tiny bit, getting him into that proper contact then stopped.
Tesoro wanted to walk and did not want to speed up, so I consider that a win in and of itself. I kept the session short, only about 20 minutes. We will do this every 2-3 days for the next month or so.
I feel good about having him back. He is helping me learn.