Rather suddenly, fall has descended upon North Central Texas. By 'fall' I mean that the days are in the 80's (and sometimes 70's!), and the nights are in the 50's. We've had *gasp!* two big rainstorms in the past week, which has left everything a bit muddy and chilly. I even put O in a sheet on one of those nights, when it dipped into the upper 40's... behold:
You know you LOVE THAT SHEET. I can see your jealous, incredulous dry heaves from here.
No sheet for the old bat Pmare because she is a feral animal and when she sees me coming with clothes, she flees. I force it upon her when it gets really cold, but for nights in the low 50's, she's not gonna die. She survived living in Alberta for most of her life after all, in a field with no blanket at all.
Everyone actually stayed in stalls for two of those nights (due to never-ending downpours). I wasn't terribly keen on the idea, but decided to go for it since it would help keep P's feet dry overnight. Everybody survived, and they were all plenty happy to get back outside the next day, O especially:
She only needed the sheet for two of those nights, and when I pulled it off yesterday (temps had risen to a steamy 55), she was sweating. If the temp gets back down into the 40's, then a sheet will do for her. Last year she would shiver like crazy when the temps got that low... I dunno.
We lunged lightly earlier in the week, and I had a nicely forward horse on the end of my line, mellow but not stupidly hot. I haven't been using the Faux-ssoa lately - she is the Counterbend Master, and it doesn't seem to matter what I do to try and manipulate that... she just keeps on counterbending. The trouble is that she also is the High-Headed Giraffe Master, and loves to pull herself along on the forehand with her neck all kinds of upside down. I was thinking I might pull out my old chambon and give that another try... or at least, see if I can piece it back together. Gogo destroyed it some years ago (she was very good at that!), but the pieces might still be salvageable.
We went for a road drive yesterday, doing dressage work as best we could while still avoiding all the mud. Lots and lots of transitions left me with a relativity supple and quiet critter at the end of it all, all things considered:
Transitions will need to become crisper, more responsive, as we keep on progressing. I can feel her downshift when she hears the walk command and gets her first half-halt, but she trots on until she gets the second walk command before she actually walks. She also raises her head every time she gets a command for an upward transition, unless I get her balanced and quiet enough pre-transition. It really is amazing how like dressage this all is - the straightness, the impulsion, it's all the same. She has all the same problems that she had under saddle, don't get me wrong about that, but it's interesting the way we communicate differently while driving. We both know full well that my position in a cart behind her is MUCH more precarious that sitting on her back, and that picking a fight with her over something is a REALLY BAD idea while she is in harness. There is no illusion of control when you're in a cart versus on their back - at least if you're on their back, you can hang on for dear life if they start going all kinds of crazy. In a cart, she and I are both fully aware that she is choosing to keep herself in control - if she really decided to go all hell bent for leather somewhere else, what is that fat plastic snaffle in her mouth (or even a huge leverage bit, if I had one) really going to do? In a way, I think this gives her a good ego boost. She's keeping her own self under control and listening because she has decided to do so, not because I told her to do so. It makes her that much more pliable and compliant.
I know I'm waxing anthropomorphic, but I'm pretty sure she is pleased with herself after every drive. She acts it, without a doubt.