I thought I'd catch up on some Cookie time. I have been working real hard on my Riding The Brand trip and needed a break. We've also got a break in the temperatures which means more time with Cookie.
I have been riding bareback twice this past week. The first time was for around ten minutes. I felt pretty good and doing a lot better at finding my balance. The second ride was only for about 5 minutes, my legs were beginning to feel like spaghetti and I wanted to be able to dismount safely without falling all over the place trying to stand up. Yay me!
Around the first of each month, Cookie gets a new bale of hay. I don't have the space available for more than one, so my supplier graciously brings me one every month. Last month, she had free access to a bale because it was still sweating and needed better air circulation. The bale was out in her paddock and covered by a high hanging tarp. Switching her back to a regular feeding schedule has been interesting to say the least. She has managed to get into the hay shelter three times. This is very frustrating when you are trying to monitor how much hay there is to work with for the month.
The first time, she managed to get the gate open without making a huge mess of things. The second time, not so much. Panels were scattered. The third time, I went out to feed her the late evening meal, she met me half way and promptly walked over and began eating... as if to say, "Oh it's okay mom, I fed myself." UGHHHH. This time I stapled a tarp across the opening, put the gate back, added another panel and chained them all. Out of sight, out of mind. So far (knock on wood) she hasn't gotten back in there in the last three days.
She's not starving, by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, she could afford to lose a couple of pounds like me. I feed her two meals in an open manger and two meals from a slow feed hay net. This is to help prevent bolting her hay, while allowing her an opportunity to eat naturally with her head lowered. Each meal is served roughly five hours apart with a total of twenty pounds per day. As we get closer to Fall and colder weather, I'll add alfalfa cubes back into her diet to give her some extra calories to stay warm.
She's a funny mare. She really is. She is as frustrating as she is funny. I don't believe she was getting into the hay shelter because she was hungry, but rather because she was wanting more attention from me. Sometimes when I am out there with her, cleaning her paddock or just hanging out, she'll eat dead leaves and watch to see if I'm going to do or say anything about it. When I don't, she leaves them alone and comes to stand by me. She's spoiled and loved and I think she knows it.
Today, because the weather has been glorious, we worked for about an hour-and-a-half. Walking, trotting, extended trotting. I tried different things with her and I actually found a new way of asking things to receive a response. Waving my hand by just flicking or flexing at the wrist, she will walk on, or whoa. If I wave my hand from the down position to the upward position, she'll walk on. If I start with my fingers up and "pat" towards the ground, she will transition from a trot to a walk, and to a whoa. It's very cool to see this happen. We're still working on least resistance in other areas, but she is coming along quite well and remembers things I taught her early on. She will back up without me stepping forward towards her. She will turn and walk on with a wave of my hand. It's so incredible to watch this transformation. Rewards come with removing pressure and lots of rubs and scratches in the feel good areas.
My sister and girlfriend managed to get me an early birthday present. It's a saddle. My very own saddle! I still tear up about it. The stinkers! I have to get a saddle pad before I can use it, and I have to make sure it fits Cookie before I put any real rides on it. I have a friend that lives down the road a piece who will stop by sometime and will check it all out for me. I have been doing well riding bareback, but having a saddle will give us the opportunity to get out of the paddock too.
In the meantime, we'll continue our exercises. I'll continue to lose weight, Cookie will continue to gain strength, and I'll be riding well in no time. Now that the temperatures are starting to come down, I'll be able to spend more time with Cookie, giving her all the attention she wants. Ad maybe, just maybe she'll stay out of the hay shelter.
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