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January 6, 2018: The Horse Life: The Number One Riding Horse

For many years I deliberated as to which was the Number One Riding Horse in our Horsehold. At first it was older steady eddy Tinni, who was my first riding horse. In riding him, I became a somewhat confident trail rider. Then it was younger willful Raudi, who upped my level of confidence another notch.

And for some time, Raudi it remained. This was because definition of Number One Riding Horse was narrow in scope. The younger, faster, seemingly more responsive horse got the nod.

Today was a day in which I realized that if I was to go with a more-broad based definition, that Tinni gets the nod. He is, and always will be, my Number One Riding Horse. My broad-based definition is now

Tinni getting accupuncture from Dr. Wilson

this: on or off the horse, he or she takes you out of your comfort zone. In the process of doing this, you both rise to the occasion.

I recently realized that Tinni, at age 28, is now showing his age. He moves a bit more slowly, may be arthritic. His left eye is also at times weepy, and the lids slightly swollen. And there have been times in which his level of interaction with his mares is less than usual.

I have surprised myself – I didn’t know I had it in me to stay on top of Tinni’s geriatric care. A few months ago Pete and I wisely decided to put him in his own small enclosed area at night, so that he might get his share of the groceries. The three younger mares have shown him no mercy in this respect. He likes this – he even waits at the gate at night in order to be let into his own space.

I also started giving him a slurpy – a watery gruel, containing natural vitamin E, Cosequin, Biotin, lysine, Safe Choice (a grain supplement for senior horses), Alaska Gold (a vitamin supplement), and beet pulp. A few days ago I added arnica. Yesterday I added Milk Thistle, which is good for the liver.

Tinni now gets his slurpy, three times a day, divided into three feedings. I also clean his eye with a tea bag that along with hot water, I put in my covered mug. I then dry his eye with a paper towel. I then do a bit of acupressure points around his eyes and in a few other spots. He really likes the face work and leans into my fingers. He lets me know when enough is enough by returning to his feed.

All the above is now just a part of our routine, though figuring out how to do this in an efficient fashion took some time. Tinni, in this respect has been an excellent teacher in that he has been patient and appreciative of my efforts.

He was also appreciative of the efforts of Dr. Brooke Wilson, who did acupuncture and came through with the Adequan, an intra-muscular joint supplement. We are now giving him the latter once every four days for (I think) six weeks.

And today he reminded me that under saddle, he is still my Number One Riding Horse. We were scheduled today to again ride with the posse. I woke up at about 2:00 a.m. thinking that, like Deb’s crew, I should perhaps be riding without stirrups. For the past few years my knees have felt still at the conclusion of rides.

I don’t have a bareback pad – Pete wisely suggested that I try removing my stirrups and leathers from my treeless saddle and use it. The question was then, who do I ride? I easily could have ridden Tyra, Raudi, or Hrimmi, but finally decided to take Tinni on the outing. I wanted to see how he’d do. I also had this gut feeling that he, still being our most steady eddy mount, would be the easiest to ride.

Before hand, I did an hour of body awareness work on me. Then I spent a half-hour on Tinni, doing TTeam and acupressure work. At 1:30 p.m., as I was finishing up, the posse arrived, this time with seven horses. With our two horses, this was nine horses total. Deb’s crew headed out first, and Pete and I walked Hrimmi, Tinni, and Ryder to the trailhead. Tinni was snorty and full of go, though he did fall behind the others after a bit.

Pete and I mounted up and followed the others out. Tinni and I fell in last, behind Hrimmi. Riding without stirrups felt really, really good from the very beginning. Tinni has always gone nicely down hills, and today was no exception. He did hustle uphill a bit but this was because I was attempting to find my balance. I figured that if he jumped around that I could dismount, but I did not have to do this. I relied pretty heavily on the tools in my Centered Riding tack box.

Yes, every so often I did get a bit nervous because again, I am not used to riding with large numbers of larger horses. And Tinni is sometimes startled when dogs come up on his right side. He then puts his head up which is something he used to do prior to bolting. Back in the day, we did have some wild rides.

At one point, some in Deb’s posse practiced falling off their bigger horses into the snow. I just had to do this. So twice, I launched myself off Tinni’s back, into a drift. It was pretty funny, kneeling next to him and realizing that there was six or so inches between his belly and the top of the snow.

We elected to do a bit longer ride and ventured off our trails in the direction of Grizzly Camp. The snow was punchy and there were some ruts. On the return trip Tinni was quivering – he badly wanted to be out front and gallop home. I just kept him behind Hrimmi. At the top of the hill that’s located before the pond crossing Hrimmi stopped and would not go on. Pete said that she didn’t like the punchy divots. I got off Tinni and passed her. She followed nicely.

The rest of the ride, up Siggi’s Trail and to Jim’s road was quite nice. Tinni was a little winded so we took it very easy.

Got home and unsaddled him. After fifteen minutes or so of socializing I took Tinni’s heartrate. It was 40 bpm, which is quite low but average for him. I then blanketed him, put him in his pen, and gave him slurpy #2. It was 14 F and my feet were cold. If I had been warmer, I would have done more acupressure work on him. I will do this tomorrow, at midday, when its warmer

I talked with Deb for a bit about riding without stirrups before she drove off. I told her that I am now totally sold on continuing to do this. I felt way better than I would have, had I gone with the treeless saddle rigging and stirrups. I know that overall, this is going to be far better for my knees and hips, and will put less pressure on my horses’ backs.

I would not have come to this important revelation if I’d ridden Raudi because I would have used my Synergist saddle and kept my feet in the stirrups. Instead, I rode Tinni and tried something new, something that really did take me out of my comfort zone.

Confirmed today – the old man IS my Number One Riding horse.

Next: 8. 1/8/18: Holding Pattern

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