Happy Birthday, Lilly!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today Lilly is SEVEN years old!! So I took her an armload of carrots and promised that I wouldn't work her very hard. (Hah! That's what I say everyday!) I also let her eat carrots whenever she swung her head around looking for them, something I've learned to not accommodate all the time in case it makes her grabby and sour. But since it was her birthday, I let her have carrots on demand. Naturally, she gobbled them up in seconds.
This is what Lilly looked like when I went to get her out of the pasture. Can you believe how dirty this brumby can get!? And it's not so easy to brush all that muddy mess out of her. All that mashed and sullied white fur! Plus, it is heading toward spring and so she is shedding her winter coat. In the barn as I was brushing her there was a cyclone of horsehair in the air. It was everywhere. My sweater quickly became covered with white brumby hair! It got in my throat and eyes! BLECCHH!!

When I retrieve Lilly from the pasture she is usually eating hay and will almost always let me come right up to her with the halter and slide it on. Today as I was doing this , since it was her birthday, I slipped her a carrot. (Carrots are brumby magnets, I am not kidding.) Only a few times have I gone to get her from the pasture only to have her skitter away like the gingerbread man. These are the times other horses are so close by that I can't always tell if she is trying to avoid me or them. I can tell you this though: the last place I want to be is between two horses having a misundertsanding about who gets to stand where.
Lilly must have known it was her birthday because she was super cuddley. She kept shoving her face into my chest and leaving it there like she wanted me to hug and coo at her. That is so dear. Then she would lick my hand with her giant tongue. Brumby!! Down in the ring it was just us--no other horses, no dogs zooming hither and yon at the speed of light--and so I was able to measure Lilly's true ring-grouchiness level. Alone her ears were forward and she made satisfying little sighs very often.
There were a few instances near the gate when she would slow down, or even come to a complete stop. Aaahh the gate. The World's Most Distracting Item in the ring. This is when the crop comes in handy. I figure she can stop if she wants to, but that will only invite a little spank from the crop. Usually, just getting the crop out and slapping my own leg with it is enough to get her to realize that trot means trot and not meander aimlessly and listlessly around at her discretion. After five or ten minutes, and perhaps a little hop of protestation, she'll settle into something more even and reliable. I set up some cones and we trotted around them. She really has the most beautiful sitting trot. It might be too slow for some people but I love it. We also practiced neck reining. Not surprisingly, neck reining toward the gate gets much better results than neck reining away from it.

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