RNC the OTTB: Summer Changes

Well it’s official; Summer has arrived in Louisiana. On one hand, I’m happy because no class means I’ll have more time to spend with Rency; on the other hand, it’s HOT. Summer down here means bugs, high humidity, and temperatures in the triple digits. I’ve quickly realized that not being in school doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to my ability to go to the barn, because I can’t stand being outside until the late evening anyway. So I spend my mornings working, and then I head to the barn once the sun gets low enough.

Photo courtesy of Emily Maron

The heat has made a difference in Rency’s routine as well. Since it ‘s too hot for him to be out in the afternoon, he hangs out in his stall (with the fan on like the spoiled little man that he is). After dinner he goes out to crunch on hay, roll around, and cause trouble until the next morning. Despite the fact that Ren isn’t getting as much turnout as we’d like, so far the summer routine has been working out well. It all comes down to the fact that it isn’t fair to put him out in the scorching heat. He has a bit more energy lately since he spends so much time indoors, but it’s manageable.

Along with turnout schedules moving around, we’re making some lifestyle changes for the baby horse. Ren started bucking quite frequently and was sensitive to the girth, so our chiropractor suggested an ulcer treatment. We only did ten days, but I saw a complete turnaround. He will be slowly switching over to Nutrena Senior feed over the next few days. We want to put him on something that holds a bit more nutritional value than that will hopefully help him hold a healthy weight. Ren isn’t a hard keeper, but he’s been loosing weight since summer started. I’ve been told that the wet weather all year is affecting the quality of the hay in our area, so I’m counting on Senior feed to provide the extra forage that he needs.

On top of that, we added Horseshoer’s Secret as a daily supplement because we have pulled FOUR SHOES over the past couple months. So far we’ve only been on it for a couple weeks, but he pulled a shoe a couple days ago and hasn’t developed any soreness which is HUGE. Normally he would be dead lame and full of bruises, but he’s been able work normally with only one shoe. We’re not pushing it and the farrier is coming tomorrow, but I’m very happy with the integrity of his hoof so far.

As we navigate Rency’s health and try to find the best routine for him, we’ve continued to make leaps and bounds in our preparation for the Makeover. After treating for ulcers our bucking habit disappeared completely, so I can ride with confidence knowing I won’t get thrown if I add too much leg. But right when we solve one problem, of course another one arises. Our latest training challenge has been Rency’s little habit of ignoring contact when we get into a line. It’s funny, because it’s only in lines. Single jumps are a little rushed, but he’s adjustable. At first I thought it was just a rushing problem, so I worked super hard on sitting and slowing my body over fences. But, after our last jump-school, I realized that the baby horse has a serious case of tunnel vision when it comes to jumping through lines. The first jump is okay, he doesn’t really gallop up to it like he used to, but the middle of the line coming up to the second jump is where things get messy. I mean, to be fair it doesn’t look messy, just fast. We always get the step, and it’s pretty consistent, but if I ask for a shortening of stride he acts like he doesn’t even know I’m there.

Photo courtesy of Emily Maron.

After the line is over, he snaps back into reality and comes back nicely, but I’d really like to be able to choose my distance and pace since that is, y’know, my job as the rider. I don’t think he means to be bad, I think he really does it so that he can get an even distance coming in and going out. I don’t wanna ruin his natural ability to find distances, but I’d love to be able to choose a chip instead of taking the gap every once in a while. Rency is so game for jumping, and he’s braver than I am most of the time, so he loves to go for giant gaps like, “Hey mom, look what I can do! Hang on tight!!” I will be the first to admit that my first instinct when coming up to an X-rail is to not to hang on for dear life, but if this continues I’m gonna have to start grabbing mane over ground-poles.

One thing that isn’t helping me in this situation is that Rency is gaining some serious muscle. Everything about him is becoming very, very round. His trot feels like he’s trying to bounce me off of his ribcage like a ping-pong ball, and his jump launches me straight upwards every time. He’s strong and heavy, and he is sure to remind me of that… Daily. I’m happy that he’s using himself correctly, but I wish I could express to him that I am only 100lbs and I’m quite fond of remaining in the saddle if at all possible. But hey, it could be worse. He could be hollow and under-muscled, so I’ll count my blessings and realize that a naturally round and correct horse is a gift to be cherished.

These past few months I’ve really just being trying to see everything Rency gives me as just that; a gift to be cherished. When I’m in the checkout line at Tractor Supply, buying a fourth pair of bell boots and my trainer texts me to say that he pulled a shoe, I try to remain thankful that his biggest health problem is weak hoof walls. When money is tight,  I try to be thankful that I have a horse to stress about and I remind myself that I’m doing a good job. He’s happy, he’s fed, he’s healthy… I’m doing fine. I’ll end this little entry with the quote that’s inspired this mindset and has thus been my saving grace over these stressful months. I know plenty of other Makeover Trainers are feeling the same pressure I am, especially with roughly 3 months until showtime… Hopefully it can help calm your busy mind just as it’s done for me;

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”