Friday, February 1, 2008

Too Much Food, Not Enough Exercise

My name is Cindy, and I own two high horses.

Once again, I feel like I should be participating in some sort of support group, like maybe the High Horse Owners Anonymous Group. Why? Because I see people on their extremely docile horses dottering down the trails like they're sleepwalking. My horses, on the other hand, begin that way but then if something sets them off I'm suddenly sitting on top of Secretariat in the stretch run of the 1973 Belmont.

This has only been happening lately. I blame that on a combination of things: the icky weather, my writing work and the distraction of housework.

The other day I rode Wally for several blocks at the walk and jog. He was being quite gentlemanly. I got to the corner of the main street in town (a 4-lane thoroughfare), paused, and pushed the Walk/Don't Walk button. Wally waited patiently and then we walked a few blocks alongside all that traffic. Wally barely flicked an ear at semi-trucks and cars zipping past him. When we were almost home we met up with a group of riders. Several of them were mounted on huge draft-crosses (which always elicit a certain amount of curiosity from Wally). After I chatted with the riders for a few moments, I rode on, leaving them behind.

Wally began to prance. His long flaxen tail flipped upwards like an Arabian stallion. He snorted a sound through his nostrils that I can only describe as a cross between a Hoover vacuum cleaner and an elephant. Part of me tried to figure out why he was putting on such a display. Was it to impress his equine friends he'd just met? Or was it because he was still frisky? The other part of me simply wanted to stay on!

Once I rode through his little rambunctious outburst, I made him canter up and down the length of horse trail that runs along my property. That seemed to cool his jets.

As for Lexi, she has remained quite the well-mannered lady... on the ground. But I've been so busy that I haven't had time yet to ride her now that her foot is well. I've been leaving her turned out all day or longeing her for a few minutes in the arena near my house. I keep thinking, "I've got to set aside some time so I can start riding her again."

That hasn't happened yet.

So while she's very well behaved on the longe line, and listens to my voice commands, I can tell by the zeal in her eyes that she's ready to launch into hyper-mode. She doesn't give the impression of a champion western pleasure horse. An onlooker would think I was holding the lead rope of a NFR barrel racing winner. Or a palomino race horse (is there such a thing?)

I love owning two horses and keeping them at home. But honestly, I can spend most of the day raking, mucking, feeding and watering, cleaning tack, sweeping the tackroom floor and grooming the horses. Combined with my writing work-- and those unavoidable indoor household chores-- I'm not left with enough time to actually ride two horses. Plus, sometimes I'm simply too tired!

I'm beginning to realize that my horses are getting too much food and not enough exercise. They're fat and sassy. And yet, ironically, because of all the hands-on work that owning two horses in your backyard entails, I believe I'm getting too much work and not enough food to compensate. Maybe I'll have to whip up a batch of macaroni and cheese for my dinner tonight and tackle the longeing and trail riding once again tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to ride Wally and pony Lexi. You can get double the effort for your time and we all know that our horses are happier going out together. I use this technique on every outing to get my weanling accustomed to everyday life and experiences. Works for me.
Christy C.

Halsgal said...

You have my total sympathy. You are lucky at least that it isn't just that it's too cold to ride that has kept you off of your horses. A few weeks ago I hadn't ridden my TB in two weeks because every time I attempted to ride it was below -20. By the time I finally got on him, it was a fun ride I must say . . . Good luck getting it all done!

Anonymous said...

I have the same problems. My three boys are in the back yard but it seems like I never see them! I get up at 4:30 to feed the guys and then leave at 6 to go to work. Get back at 5 to start dinner, clean the house a little, do homework (I'm trying to go to school part-time also). By the end of all that, I am ready for bed and the guys are ready for dinner too. I keep telling myself to make a quick-fix dinner and ask my husband to do the dishes so that I can at least work with the horses a little before dark. But, of course it never happens that way! Two of the guys are getting older (22 and 30) so I don't imagine that they mind being left alone. But I feel guilty not spending time with my new tb who is in his prime (about 8) who I am also trying to get some weight on. Maybe tonight I will longe him around a little...we'll see!