Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Buttercup_MorganMy young rider and Buttercup have a great working relationship. Buttercup is no push-button horse, but she knows when her rider means what she it and usually doesn’t put up a fuss. But today something was wrong.

Our warm-up exercise went well. It was a new pattern, but the rider had no problem with it and Buttercup complied. Last week we started going over a low jump. The rider is ready to learn how to canter, has great form, and had enjoyed going over ground poles. She did fine last week, so I thought we’d do it again this week.

As I was getting the jump ready, I asked her to trot Buttercup. She did, but Buttercup didn’t trot the distance. She broke trot after a few steps. So we tried again. This time, she didn’t even attempt to trot.  She stopped instead. Really? Stopping instead of trotting? This is not acceptable behavior. I’m studying the rider and the horse. I don’t see anything wrong with the rider. The horse is moving properly but refusing to trot. Stopping. And when she stops, she is not square, but extends her back legs a bit. I’m wondering if she needs to urinate, but isn’t doing it.

My first impulse was to get after Buttercup for not being responsive, but my gut feeling said not to. So I changed the lesson and we worked on leg yields, which were done quite nicely by both the rider and the horse.

Class is over and I make a mental note to work with Buttercup later in the day to try and figure out what happened in that lesson.

A half-hour later I get a text from the rider’s mother. They may have to cancel the afternoon plans because she is running the girl to Emergency. I’m stunned. It seems the girl had fallen the day before and hit her head. No lumps, no bumps, not even a mark. She seemed fine that evening and didn’t complain about not feeling well in the morning.

Being the avid rider that she is, she came for her lesson, but on the way home told her dad that the ride home was making her sick to her stomach and dizzy.

The next text was – she had suffered a concussion.

Was she not feeling right but hid it well for her riding lesson? She says she was fine until the ride home. Did Buttercup know that she wasn’t well and shouldn’t be trotting (actually shouldn’t be riding!), Buttercup is not saying. But what she is saying loud and clear – I do know what is happening with my rider and will act accordingly.

And I will always trust my horses and my gut.

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

After months of running wire, putting up walls, and all the other work that goes into building a barn, I can say it’s just about done.

My son gave up most of his weekends to help with the framing, then the electrical.  The grandkids, even though they enjoyed riding the horses on their visits, wanted to do more than visit grandma and grandpa.

It was a long, project.  Much more than any of us imagined.

But then, it all came together.  About the time the doors were hung and the last of the lighting was installed, we could see the end was in sight.

My son’s friend came out to do the final touches of mudding the walls.  Thanks, Bill! 

The only thing left to do is paint.  Now how hard can that be?

One of our youngest riders had a therapeutic riding lesson on Monday.  Stella, one of our Haflingers, wore her “reindeer” get up for Christmas, so I thought it would be fun to dress her up for St. Patrick’s day.  I had already bought some fleece halter covers in red, blue, and green, so I was all set there.  We went to three dollar stores before I found the hairclip with shamrocks on it.  Fastened it to her halter with green baling twine and we were all set.

O’StellaStella is such a good horse.  She just looked at the other horses as I led her to the arena with a look that said, “I don’t look too funny, do I?”

Of course, the rider and his parents were happy to see Stella all decked out for them.