Tiger’s life was recently flipped upside down. He’s known life as having a stall of his own and now he chooses to come and go freely. It’s not as luxurious but he is beginning to realize the attention, care, and love is still very much present.
In Tiger’s first few weeks he has been forced to adjust to a new life. New friends. New mom. New routine. He is picking it up quite a fest but I still notice and expect some oddities as we dive into the colder season. He doesn’t have much of a winter coat so he has been getting his sheet in the evenings, he seems to appreciate the gesture.
We also ventured out on our first outing together; a fun relaxing trail ride with my amazing friends who picked us up. At the state park we enjoyed some fall foliage and the beautiful lake. It was great to see Tiger in “business mode.” Though he’s still feeling out his living situation he’s all business under saddle. He stood quietly at the trailer. He walked happily and relaxed along the trails; I rode him mostly on the buckle and even dropped my stirrups for some. We had a fabulous time.
The first few weeks have also allowed me to get to know Tiger. On the ground and in the paddock he has poor manners that I contribute to the new life change. Regardless I have little patience and find it easier to show him what the rules are now before he thinks that rude behavior is acceptable.
To nip the manners I have finally set my round pen up; over the last 18 months it has been scattered about to create makeshift paddocks and allow for more grazing space. We have done some work in the round pen and on the lunge line. He is also learning that meals often come with hoof cleaning and grooming.
Under saddle I am simply smitten by his ethic. I have ridden him up my hill and around my backyard. We have ridden down the street past cars and even rode to the busy road (55mph). I allowed him to nibble grass while a truck and trailer zoomed by and he didn’t bother to raise his head. So far I have jumped him 2’3″ but my equitation was poor. Tiger, of course, was perfect and did what I asked but I knew my form was terrible over the fences. After that day I lowered the jumps back down and set out a gymnastics line. I trotted 4 poles to a vertical with a 1 stride to another vertical….only 18″ high but I realize this is my comfort level while riding alone. Next time I will be able to increase the difficulty but at least I now know my starting point for us as a pair.
It wasn’t long before Tiger pulled his first shoe…and about 2.5 weeks later the other shoe ripped itself out. I am getting a lot of experience pulling shoes already! We just reset his shoes this week and he came out tender…as it happens we also are draining an abscess from a bruise…likely caused by the shoe pull. With soaking and wrapping, I’m hoping he’ll be good as new very soon. There are the times I wish I had stalls and fluffy dry shavings. For the next 2 days we are getting hit hard by rain making me very happy that we got the barnyard done. The stone has been draining fabulously to provide a decent space for the horses to get out of the rain and stay mud free.
After this round of shoes we will send him out barefoot for the winter. I’m not in love with his hoof quality and I don’t subscribe to the “ALL thoroughbreds have crappy feet” mentality. I’ve been working on balancing his diet so I hope that by spring his new hoof growth combined with having to adapt to the environment will bring a stronger hoof and a happier horse.
All this about Tiger but what of Blade? Blade told you a bit about his first experience with Tiger in The Blade Chronicles: My New Brother. He is really enjoying Tiger but he has begun to take his role at the bottom of the totem once more. He is very patient with Tiger and even puts up with Tiger’s attitude (which I wish he’d just be a bit more bossy and put Tiger in his place). All in all, they are perfect brothers.
Blade gets a bit jealous when he sees me working with Tiger. We jumped a couple crossrails and he seemed to enjoy it. I make sure to give Blade extra attention sometimes to make sure he knows he hasn’t been cast aside. Blade enjoys walking down the road after our rides so I make sure to get that special time alone with him.