A long(e)ing in my heart

Kim and I have decided that Bob actually has three names:

  1. When he’s just being his normal self: Bob.
  2. When he’s being exceptionally good: Roberto (making sure to trill the Rs)
  3. When he’s being a dork: Boob

Today he was Roberto. Mary came out to help me out with the longeing problem and had it nailed down in about five minutes (keep the longeing whip behind him getting him started, don’t step toward his butt if he starts to turn in, and use my rope hand at eye level to push/wave his head away). Much better!

He walked, trotted, and cantered both directions, picking up the correct lead immediately. He got a good 10-12 minutes of longeing on each side and broke a little sweat. He responde to me “pushing” him while longeing, which was also a big improvement. We even started working on differentiating the command “jog” from “trot”—he seemed to get the basic idea pretty quickly, which makes me wonder if someone else worked with him on that in the past. My line handling skills are getting better, which makes me happy, and I struggled less with the whip today.

We did some more work on ground tying, with good success. His right haunch turn got a little polishing up. We finished up by working on single stepping, with modest success there, too.

We took Bob back in to give him a bit of grooming. I weight taped him at 732 lbs. I don’t think this is correct, but it will give a benchmark for weekly weight checks. He is starting to look healthier: his ribs are not quite so visible and his coat is starting to look healthier, with the bare patches where he’s been bitten/kicked suddenly starting to fill back in with hair. I think tomorrow we’ll bump his ration of Amplify up to 1.5 pounds/day.

Just as I was finishing cleaning Bob’s left front hoof, he did something a bit weird. I took one last run through his outside bar with the hoof pick and then let go of his foot. As I did this, his left leg buckled and he briefly dropped to both knees before recovering. Mary and I were a bit concerned by this, so we tried to reproduce it, but couldn’t. The only thing we could see was that his right front leg was trembling a bit, as was his left (to a lesser extent). There was no heat or tenderness or swelling in either leg or hoof. The only thing we can figure is that he just got a heavy workout today and was fatigued. I took a little longer than usual to clean out his hoof, and so perhaps the extra standing time was just a bit too much. Hmm… Something to keep an eye on.

As I turned Bob back out with the herd, I was pleased to see that the schoolyard bullies (Sunny and Marcel) didn’t immediately come over to cause trouble, and Bob was wigged out. Perhaps some kind of understanding is being reached…. I think he is starting to buddy up with Jamocha, who is the paint gelding in the stall next to him at night. Now if he would just give Sunny a good solid kick, I think that both Sunny and Marcel would back off.

As I leaned against the gate and watched Bob on the track, I commented to Mary about how much more I appreciate Bob after yesterday’s experience with the draft in Coquille. Yes, Bob is positively tiny compared to that mare, but his manners are so much better and his personality just can’t be beat. Now if I could just get Bob’s personality in a draft horse….

About Mike

Michael Heggen is a horseman, maker, and thinker who lives in Salem, Oregon with his wife, Kim, and "three to eight cats". He stays quite busy riding, driving, and caring for their three horses, Boulder, Shasta, and Bob. Among other things, Mike has been a fencing coach, police chaplain, computer consultant, aspirant to the diaconate, computer salesman, box boy, carpenter, computer technician, typesetter, church youth leader, copy machine operator, and network administrator. His other interests include juggling, reading voraciously, and (pretty occasionally these days) cycling.
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