Well, Don’t We Feel Athletic.

Final Call lodged an official complaint tonight, with me (I am the help desk, evidently), that he was displeased that I had left for a week and abandoned him.

Okay, okay, so maybe I did. So maybe I went away for a few days. But I didn’t talk to any other horses. I swear.

Try telling a Thoroughbred that.

I was only going to longe, but you know how that always turns out. Ten minutes went by and, despite a terrible head cold that I attribute to the airplanes, I was dying to get on. I sent a text message to the house and five minutes later an errand boy in rubber boots and boxer shorts (that would be my son, ripped away from his video game) brought out the hard hat.

I’d already longed him rather harder than usual, since I’d assumed this was going to be the work-out, and by the time I’d gotten the halter off, and tightened the girth, he had broken a sweat. But he stood quietly enough. And despite not having any chaps, just plain jeans to ride in, I wasn’t really concerned. This is Final Call, for heaven’s sake. What could happen?


The usual rules apply, as always: we set off into a jog, and he immediately arched his neck, refused to move forward, and basically told me that he was ready for something more interesting that Working Trot.  Can you blame him? Sympathizing, I asked, quite politely I thought, for a nice little left lead canter.

I really don’t know what we got. I mean, it was definitely the left lead, and credit must be given where credit is due. But the interesting hopping up and down – I mean, it was athletic, and had my heels not been jammed home in the stirrup irons somewhere near his lurching ears, I may have tasted the grass.

I hollered, and kicked, and swore, and basically made myself look like an idiot, which all in all appeared to be just what he was looking for, because after five or six of these moves (crow-hops?) he leveled out into a nice canter and around we went, merry-go-horse, without any trouble. But wouldn’t you know, he did the same thing to the right?

We’d been cantering for a good ten minutes, and after all the time off, and the longing, and the head cold, he was looking for a breather and so was I. But I’m a timid little re-rider underneath of it all and I needed to know that he’d canter nicely for me if I asked again. So we trotted for a few minutes, got a few half-hearted stretches in, and then I picked him back up. Two nice canter transitions, no hopping. Lovely.

It’s sort of par for the course with Final Call that even his disgruntled moments are entertaining. This is, after all, a horse who displays his desire for cookies by clicking his teeth together. Whose most serious vice on the ground is chewing on the wood of the wash-rack while I’m grooming him. Who lets a yearling filly shove him around the paddock.

But next time I go out of town for a few days, he’s getting his feed cut back.



Filed under Final Call, Training Diary

8 responses to “Well, Don’t We Feel Athletic.

  1. Barb Fulbright

    I can just picture it! And I’m pretty sure clicking his teeth for a cookie is a trick!

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Barb, stop sneaking into my paddocks and teaching my horses tricks!

      You’re right though. I’ll bet you someone with a sense of humor taught him that.

      I accidentally taught a yearling to stomp her foot on the floor of the trailer (as opposed to actually getting in the trailer – she was Emira the Counting Thoroughbred for about fifteen minutes there). So I’ve done my share of trick training, I suppose.

      The teeth clicking thing is pretty cute. I may video it for you. There isn’t enough nonsense clogging the bandwidth, might as well slow it down with some Final Call teeth.

      • Barb Fulbright

        When I was a hotwalker at Keeneland, while in college, I taught a fresh chestnut colt to over-extend his outside front leg by tickling him under his chin if people on his off-side didn’t move as we were coming down the shedrow. I also introduced him to donuts…

      • Natalie Keller Reinert

        You’re a trick trainer, all right. That’s the best one I’ve heard of. I taught a two-year-old to rear up and land on my foot and break it … wait, that was an accident… anyway.. well done.

  2. You don’t sound timid to me – that’s a good outcome and glad you were able to work through it.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Thanks Kate, that’s quite nice of you to say!

      The fact is, I am a rather timid re-rider, and a lot of things that I ride through, I handle simply because I know I’ve done it in the past, and I’m no less athletic or fit than I was in the past (surprisingly!) so I figure I ought to tough it out and ride through it now, as well.

      I don’t like it – not one bit – when a horse does a leap with me, or a bolt, or basically does anything except walk in a flat-footed gait around a nice closed arena with his nose trailing in the dirt. I am nervous of spooks, I am nervous of bucking, rearing, crow-hopping, sun-fishing, any way that you might like to define the moves that they make with us – I am quite afraid of them. I’m afraid of hitting the ground! Even though, when I do, it generally doesn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would 🙂

      That’s one reason, of course, why I so manically wear a hat – as described at Equine Progressive, I have gone through quite a few hats, and saved my skull with as much prowess as a cat trying to get through all nine lives as quickly as possible. But a lot of it just has to do with taking off a few years from riding at just the wrong moment, just when I got past my teens and lost that famous invincibility – so when I came back to it, I was much more aware of my own mortality. Add to it that I was riding Bonnie the Bucking Broodmare (okay, she doesn’t buck, but I’ve never ridden a spook like that mare’s. Still haven’t. I just get dumped.) I don’t ride enough different horses to get over it – I ride one at a time.

      The good news in all of this is that Final Call remains, even with his occasional flights of fancy, the easiest horse I’ve ever ridden. And I mean that. So far, his biggest attempt at badness has been the above-mentioned hopping into a canter. I learned to ride on school ponies with more buck than that. And so he’s a great confidence-builder. After a ride on him, with a little silliness thrown in to remind me to pay attention and ride like an exercise rider again, I feel like I could go throw a saddle over anything and do just fine. Except Bonnie. I’ll never ride her again. 🙂

  3. How COULD you be so crewel.

    I’m surprised he even took cookies, in his state of miffdom.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Oh, he’s never too miffed to take cookies.

      Neither am I, incidentally. Life is too short to refuse cookies.

      It was wrong, and I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.

      For about two weeks. 😉

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