Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The satisfaction of seeing results

Working with Rondo and seeing the changes in his behavior as he learns his ground manners makes me think frequently about how far Panama has come since he was two.  I take it for granted sometimes when I give him a subtle cue and he responds by doing exactly what I want — but how long has it taken for me to get him there?  As Rondo starts to pick up on some of the more subtle cues from the ground, it makes me think of how he'll someday be like Panama.

Yesterday I had the vet out to the in-laws' place to give Rondo his next round of shots.  I also had the vet do a basic exam, since that hadn't been done yet.  My sister-in-law watched the whole time, waiting for the rodeo, I think — she hasn't "checked in" with Rondo lately, and as a result I think she still thinks of him as an untrained, potentially dangerous horse.  She hasn't seen how much progress I've made with him.  Therefore I could hear the little sound of surprise she made when the vet gave him his shots and Rondo just stood there!

As the vet was writing up my invoice, we were talking a little about Rondo and he said, "Oh, is this that colt I gelded a year ago who was half-wild?"  I said yes, and he said, "He's come a long way."  That made me feel so good to hear!  I also told the vet I was thinking of taking him, and he laughed at me and said, "I can tell."  Is it a bad sign when your vet laughs at you?

I am quite smitten with Rondo, I'm afraid.  He is so sweet, and he's learning to behave himself so nicely.  I especially like how affectionate he is.

I didn't have a lot of time to work with him after the vet left, as I had an appointment in the afternoon and my in-laws live a good hour's drive from where I live in Denver.  But I did get to groom him a little, and practiced picking up (and picking out) all four feet.  (He still fusses sometimes about giving me his feet, especially his back feet, but he's gotten to the point that when he fusses and I tell him "Quit," he usually does.)  It'll do, for now.

It got pretty hot in the afternoon, so I waited until the sun went down to go out to my barn.  I rode Panama bareback for a little bit, trying out a bareback pad that a fellow boarder said I could try.  It fit Panama decently well, which is amazing in and of itself, since he is pretty narrow through the girth (only about 850 pounds) and most bareback pads don't really fit him.  It was adjustable on both sides of the girth, which is part of why it was able to fit him, and had a nice fuzzy girth (I hate those bareback pads that cinch up with nothing but a thin nylon strap — those have to be pretty uncomfortable for the horse).  It was also pretty comfortable for me, so I think I'm going to get us our own.

I always love riding Panama after working with Rondo, because it reminds me of how much progress we've made, and that Rondo will eventually get there too.  It always amazes me how Panama seems to know when I am bareback that he has to trot a little slower, and that he has to take care of me and not act as spooky.  One day Rondo will be taking care of his rider like that (whether it's me or not), maybe even better than Panama does, because I think he's going to be a quieter horse.  I really do hope I get to see him all grown up someday!

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