Rockstar got past two milestones today. One, he got to trot around for minutes at a time, on the 22-foot line, in the nice footing of the arena. Two, Erin moved the hotwire to double the size of his pen, so now he can pace in longer stretches and get up a little bit of speed if he needs to.
I won’t attempt to ride him until he can walk, trot, canter, buck, rear, kick, and play vigorously every day for a week. Or a fortnight. He’s been confined to pen and walking for two months now and I don’t think we can get all that pent up energy out in one session. And even this jogging and trotting thing is still under my most careful supervision. I’m probably bombarding him with energy as I stare at the back end looking for the slightest sign of gimp.
He’s a genius, of course, and keeps trying new strategies to express his self-diagnosis of readiness. First it was explode into a canter then settle to trot, at every send. Then when that didn’t get him anywhere it became a gazelle impression with each change of direction. But that isn’t getting him anywhere either, because he’s taught me how to shut him down effectively, and get him walking again. Walking energetically, even if sometimes his face is so clearly screaming with irk.
Salsa got a real bath on Saturday and will get another soon. Years of neglect left him with a crust of grime and dermatitis and while he wasn’t into the whole water thing (does he even know that it could have been worse, we could have used cold?) he did love the scrubbing.
We’re getting there, the whole herd of us fitter and healthier than we were just months ago. I think in a week I will start taking Rocky back through the level 2 on-line patterns but this time at the trot, like they are supposed to be. We’ve already followed the whole progression but due to his physical issues we could only walk. A couple of weeks of walk-trot should get us up to the level 3 walk-trot-canter patterns — on the 45-foot line, even.
I will be out of my comfort zone again, stepping up to the challenge of trying new things, present with the exponential increase in his energy when he goes into the higher gaits. The experience I gained from the surgery onward has me more confident now, more calm in the face of speed and vigor. Confident enough to enjoy the surge and marvel at his athleticism and swell with pride in my beautiful, brilliant partner.