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.