Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Groundwork’ Category

Milton & Me

Still waiting. So, a thoughty post.

All the physical parts are in place: trailer, truck, Coggins. Now we need to have all the people in town at the same time. Our most recent random gesture [Sand Colic?] seems to be working. Milton seems to be settling. I would almost … almost … be willing to try him in the enclosed ring myself. But we’ve waited this long for someone else to get on him first. Might as well stick with the plan.

I can’t envision riding Milton on a regular basis. Seriously, my imagination fails. Is he not the horse for me? Proof that one has to ultimately pick one’s own horses? Or am I so discouraged that I am unwilling to hope? Or am I grouchy bitch who enjoys wallowing in negativity? No idea.

Last weekend, Milton got away from Greg on the long lines. On his way back to the barn, Milton neatly jumped the ring tape [Spooked]. Not what you want to see in a driving horse, but encouraging for a jumping horse. (A storm blew. Greg halted so they could quit. Not fast enough. When we got to the barn, Milton was waiting for us in the aisle, giving us a look that said, ‘Didn’t you people realize it was raining?’)

Although Milton jumped 3′ with his front feet, the trailing lines took the tape down mid-body. Unknown whether his hinds would have gone clear.

What happens if Milton turns in a riding horse and a driving horse? How’s that going to work?

Despite living together for almost 30 (!) years, Greg and I don’t actually share that well. HIS dogs; MY cats. He helps me with MY riding; I help him with HIS driving. Mathilda was HIS horse; Caesar (aka Previous Horse) was MY horse.

What happens when we both have an equal claim on the same horse?

How do we settle show conflicts? Lesson conflicts? How does the level of the show/lesson factor in?

If we haul to Stepping Stone, does Milton drive or ride?

If Greg has a lesson, does he get the days beforehand to prepare? No point in wasting lesson money.

What if driving requires different shoes? Can one jump in those?

What if driving/riding training develops the horse in a way not suitable for riding/driving?

Or do I think too much? This has been mentioned in the past.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton at SSF

We shipped Milton over to Stepping Stone Farm for a second lesson [First].

I’m tickled with everyone.

Coach Courtney has the flexibility to work with us on driving skills without insisting that the horse go like a Saddlebred.

Greg is learning from the lessons and from the opportunity to work in an enclosed space.

Milton improves each time, yet misbehaves just enough that we see value in dragging him over.

Gold stars all around.

The lighting turned Milton into the purple version of the multi-hued carriage horse from The Wizard of Oz.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s First Lesson

Coach Courtney long-lines Milton during his first lesson.

My future riding horse had a combined driving lesson sans cart in front of a saddle seat instructor. Gotta start somewhere.

Milton hears the SSF peacocks.

(Photos to be added as soon as my desktop is back in touch with the mothership.)

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Proper Walk Protocol

What is the right way to walk?

I walk. I walk a lot. Mostly around our field. Three+ laps is approximately a mile. My goal is four laps daily [My Two Horses]. I walk for exercise and for sanity [Field Walks]. I usually take a dog or a horse with me [By George]. While I walk, I ponder many things, among them whether the horse and I should be side-by-side or single file.


Safety gurus say the horse should be at the rider’s side. When I used to lose Rodney, it happened when he’d slip behind me. It just took a moment. He’d drop back, freak out, pull away, and gallop off. Not necessarily in that order. OTOH, Milton was next to me when he crashed into me and took off [Remediation].

Note: although behavior is much improved, Milton still wears a chain as he gets pushy about who walks on the path and who walks in the grass next to the path.

Single File

Watch horses. This is how they walk. This is the position they naturally assume with me when all is calm and right with the world, Constant insistence on marching alongside would be counter to the relaxed spirit of our strolls.

How do you walk your horses?

In case you were wondering: My shirt says Don’t Panic and Carry a Towel [T-Shirts for the Barn], which led to a shaggy dog tale [Spotted at the Dog Show].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

By George, I Think He’s Got It

Supposed to be a dramatic recreation of Rodney being proud of himself. Too many flies.

Since our riding supervisor has been occupied keeping the ship afloat, Rodney and I have been going on handwalks most of last week & weekend.

This simple exercise has been the scene of some of his worst come-aparts [Explosion]. When I say simple, I mean s-i-m-p-l-e. I am asking him to stroll once or twice around the mid-size pasture in which he lives 24/7. He routinely grazes out of sight of the barn. When ask him to walk out of sight of the barn? Anxiety meter flips to max. Mind you, no saddle, no marching along briskly. Plod-in-halter would not be a unjust description.

For a while, we did half loops [Progress]. Then walks up and down one side. Recently, he’s put on his big boy britches and done full laps of the pasture. He’s been fine. No running off (in truth that hasn’t happened for a while now. Knock wood.) No speeding up. But I still sensed lingering concern when we came around that far back corner.

On Friday, light seemed to dawn. ‘Oh, we’re walking. Around the pasture. I can do this. This is easy. I got this.’ The question is ridiculously basic and has taken far too long, but he’s so delighted with himself for figuring it out.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Sand Colic?

We continue to pursue the shadowy NQR in Milton.

Our latest effort is a week-long treatment for sand colic. We don’t have sand or even sandy soil. OTOH, Milton is big on picking up every last iota of feed. I have no doubt he ingests a lot of dirt. Perhaps there is a component that he did not meet in Canada. Maybe he is allergic to Alabama.

How’s it going? Over the weekend he had a subdued hissy fit while lunging. He carried on bucking and hopping and cantering, yet stayed on the circle. The lunge line has a 25-lb breakaway. Better to have them run around the pasture than tangle their legs, we figure. He never came close to challenging it.

It was one of the odder things I’ve seen a horse do. He was clearly in PAIN, or UPSET, or SOMETHING, but the cause was not at all obvious. Perhaps the psyllium husks were doing their job and the gunk was shifting around in his gut. (We checked for colic, etc.)

Or he could have been reacting to the weather …

… or a different bit, or Swat on his zipper (although that usually makes them feel better), or the newest batch of hay…

… or he had a Thoroughbred moment and the rest of it is on our heads.

That’s the problem with NQR. It’s only obvious in retrospect.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s Contract

C is for contract. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

We have done – if I may say so – an outstanding job acclimatizing Milton to harness. He accepts pressure on the breastcollar, the crupper under his tail, the shafts bagging on his sides, all of it.


The time has come to readdress the horse underneath. I don’t want to imagine Milton having a snit fit [Hitched], with Greg sitting in the cart. A little more broke, if you please. (I know broke isn’t the PC term, but you know what I mean.) Less ground-driving at a walk and trot in harness, more trotting and cantering with a saddle on the lunge.

Greg will be doing most of the lunging work. I don’t have the level-headedness for it. I figure, Well, they’ll stop galloping about eventually. Plus, he did all the lunge work with Previous Horse and that worked out, at least as far as installing a ridable WTC. Whatever else we may or may not have done after was between me and Caesar [Defense].

After the first work session under the new paradigm, Milton stood in the barn wondering how his contract had gotten unilaterally renegotiated.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott