Home' The Horse Magazine : December 2016-January 2017 Contents WWW.HORSEMAGAZINE.COM 119
ration when she has reached a nice condition too.
Get her ready for a bit of serious Trail Riding when
the weather turns.
A month of so ago the spring grass came
through. The horses started to shed their winter
coats and started putting on weight. With spring
in the air and in their hearts it was a very good
thing they all were getting a lot of regular exercise.
Snagglepuss put on more condition, lost her
hearthrug coat and grew a beautiful silky skin the
colour of antique mahogany. Her back had greatly
improved over the winter, her neck was almost a
normal shape how, as were her hindquarters - but
she still had a huge sagging belly, even though I
still lunged her in side reins before each ride. Even
now I was only seeing her once a week, she was
still very friendly. There was one occasion when I
had left the window of the car wound down when
I went to check fences and water toughs. When
I came back she had opened the glove box and
was munching into the paper bag of sultanas I
She and the other horses just kept getting fatter
and fitter as the best of the spring grass kept
coming. Some were getting positively obese. I was
worrying more and more about her belly. Cutting
down her high energy food wasn’t an option. She
still needed food, and plenty of it, to maintain the
muscles she was building, and with the occasional
cold and wet day still around, the feed helped keep
Bob’s got this standby trick for knocking excess
weight off over-fat horses that are reasonably fit.
It works like a charm. Three days in the mountains
riding hell for leather. It’s not for the fainthearted,
and the horses in question must have some fitness
already. I went each spring with Nug on this trip
for nothing else, not even the Fat Pony Paddock,
helped him shed the excess weight he put on at
this time of year.
This year I wanted to take Snagglepuss. She was
plenty fit, still totally obedient under saddle, and
the extra fast work might just take off some of her
belly. It was worth a try. If she fell back into bad
habits, or just couldn’t take it, I could always stroll
along separately from the others, for I knew the
area we went to pretty well.
So we loaded up the horses into the big truck
and set off for Sheepyard Flat.
Most of the horses went regularly on the ‘Jane
Fonda’ (so called because it was designed to trim
up the fatties) trip, but this year we had a few
newer ones. The old hands came off the truck
totally alert, scenting the breeze eagerly. It has
always amazed me that a horse that can only
be described as lazy in his home paddock goes
through this transformation when off loaded in the
mountains. The new boys cavorted a bit, catching
the excitement, but Snagglepuss came off very
quietly, sniffed about a bit, and just stood with her
head hanging. I checked her over for bumps and
bruises, but she wasn’t tender anywhere. All of us
were a bit puzzled by her behaviour.
We had made an early start, and reached the
Flat around lunchtime, so we set up camp, saddled
up and went for a stroll to stretch out the horses’
legs after the long truck trip. Apart from the usual
fussing about at the break from their normal
routine, the horses behaved pretty well about it.
Except for Snagglepuss.
For the first time since I had known her, she
fought me. She nipped when saddled up, when
mounted her head went high and horizontal and
she threw it around. She danced sideways. She
tried little rears and pigroots, and one full scale
buck. That was it. I got off, put on the lunging gear
and worked her until she settled down and started
Then we tried again.
This time she kept her head down, but was still
in a very uncertain temper. She danced along in a
short striding trot, almost a jog trot, still with her
dander up but obedient. It took nearly two hours
before she settled down to a walk around the flat.
She had never been this fidgety before. By this
time the others had gone long before on a stroll
up the road. So we set off to meet them on their
return. We crossed the bridge and met the others
about three kilometres up the track.
The next day she was even more of a nuisance
to saddle up. She bit this time, not just nips.
She cow kicked me as I tightened the girth. She
lashed out at the other horses and did her best to
bite with her ears flat back and snaking her head.
The friendly mare who followed me, whickering,
around the property when I picked up manure in
the paddock, nose never more than a foot away
from my shoulder, had vanished. You must bear
with me when I repeat that I had never had much
to do with mares before. I had heard they could
be moody and unpredictable, but this Jekyll and
Hyde transformation was a new thing entirely
for me. She’d been so sweet and gentle over the
Well that day’s ride I do not wish to repeat in a
hurry. The way out was fairly uneventful, in spite of
her fidgeting along. She was reasonably obedient,
but at every possible opportunity she tried to
turn and head for camp. We had planned a trip
making a big circle around the flat, following ridges
About half way round I was exhausted with the
effort of foiling her breakaway attempts and told
Bob and Sue that I would head back in a straight
line to camp. That was a very silly decision. I
should have stayed with the others no matter what.
Links Archive November 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page