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Finally behaving herself.
Yesterday was a beautiful reprieve from the gloomy, chilly winter weather so naturally, we took the chance to escape the house and get some fresh air.  Since I have a goal of working the horses more frequently this year, I pulled Dancer out of the paddock after doing some chores. First order of business: a haircut.

I know a lot of horse people love for their animals to have long, flowing manes but around here, I like to be more practical and appear that I at least tried to groom them. Otherwise, hair gets tangled and snarled and mud globs get stuck. It’s not particularly attractive. Luckily Dancer doesn’t suffer from male pattern baldness like Stoney so a little trim suited her nicely.

A little rough but good enough.

After a quick grooming session where Dancer stood quiet and perfect, I got out the lunge line and whip and got right to work. Unfortunately, Raven took our leaving as an invitation to play and ran up behind Dancer, who spooked, yanking me halfway across the pasture and whipping my left ring finger with the loathsome chain some nincompoop decided would be a wonderful accessory to their design of lunge lines. After wrangling in the now wild-eyed Dancer, I examined my finger and first wondered if it was broken and secondly, wondered if people tortured each other by whipping fingers with chains, because it was very effectively painful.

Dancer: a half ton ball of energy.

Fortunately, there was little time to focus on my throbbing finger and without asking, Dancer was off again, kicking up her heels and yanking me all over out property as she tried to remember the purpose of being lunged. She grew more and more bold, sped up and then she did something I knew she would: she slipped on the mud and fell onto her side.

Remember what a tail held like that means? She’s feeling frisky, playful and naughty. But look at that trot!

One of the important, principle lessons of dressage is balance. You can’t very effectively go racing around in circles if you’re leaning too tightly and going too fast–a fall is inevitable. With her heavy stumbled (lucky for her onto very squishy, soft mud and lucky for me, without being on her back), she knocked some sense into herself. She stood up, looking horribly embarrassed and politely waited for me to ask her to do something. She moved without pulling and figured out how to keep her body in line with her legs while navigating the slick terrain.

Ow. Ow. Ow. My finger feels a lot worse than it looks and is practically useless today.

By the time we finished, she was well out of breath and frothy with sweat, a good reminder that I need to work her more often to build muscle, get rid of her lingering chub and help her remember her manners. And, sooner than I like to think, she’s going to have to replace Stoney as the go-to horse for kiddie rides. She will have to be a good girl for them, no exceptions.

A quick ride on a very muddy Stoney.

Stoney wanted to come out too and the girls got a quick ride on his muddy hide as the sun went down. Though my finger is black and blue and swollen like a sausage and I’m a bit tired from wrestling a full-grown mare, I’m looking forward to our next session. I just think maybe I’ll put up a round pen first and leave the lunge line in the tack room for a while.

Worn out and ready for some affection from the girls.

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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