Posted by: shannonc | March 30, 2009

Laziness is the Mother of Invention

Saturdays can be kind of crazy and on this one, by the time I finished teaching my 2pm-moved-to-3pm group at about 4:30, it was overcast and nippy, I was tired, the horses were being turned in and fed…and I had yet to ride the Pippermint.  As I made my way out to his paddock I was thinking, meh, I’ve worked him 4 days in a row, maybe I’ll just skip the longe work today.

I was feeling pretty good about this decision when I went to get him…and received my first-ever nicker! 

Then I distinctly detected, through my mist-filled eyes, the impression of a large dark bay, formerly nicker-emitting horse whipping around the paddock, bucking, leaping, and standing on his hind legs.  I think he threw a scream in there for good measure.

Note to self.  Nickering = definitely overrated.

Seemed like the signature of a horse who wanted to do longe work to me, so I obligingly lugged out the harness, Pessoa, line, buggy whip, and all manner of other varied and sundry required equipment for the hellish chore…which I dutifully hooked up while Pip tap-danced all over the aisle, letting me know, in case I missed the memo, that it was TURN IN TIME and he was supposed to be EATING.

I tell him that whatever a year’s worth of vacation may have misled him to believe, he now has a job which includes working when asked, even if it means the munching schedule sometimes has to be shifted a little.  I leave out the part about how it always rains at events because I figure maybe now isn’t the best time to push my luck.

Rattling the reins at him and repeating the mantra of every horse mom with a 4-year-old, “pay attention,” I head out to the ring and begin to hand-walk, because today doesn’t seem like the right day to test my newly (incrementally) improved longe skills, so I have to wait for Dave, who is occupied with some small, meaningless task like running a 20-plus-horse operation.

I’m busy grouching and grumbling to myself about how it sucks to be a crappy longe handler and have a barely-rebacked OTTB who’s high as a kite when out of the corner of my eye, I notice Pip is behaving himself rather admirably.  He’s walking at my shoulder, flopping his ears a little, and not pushing at me.  He almost seems…businesslike.


Dave appears, and with a wink and a nudge (because I suspect the words “no longeing” are in the horse’s vocabulary, and no way do I want to alert him), we whip off the harness and the associated ninety pieces of carefully applied equipment, and up I go.  There is no time for me to be nervous, because somewhere in the Articles of Pippermint, I pledged that we would take turns.

“Whaaat??” exclaims Pippermiffed, rolling his eyes into his head, offering to lay his forehead in my lap, and beginning to jig as if headed to the start gate.  This.  Isn’t.  The.  Regularly.  Scheduled.  Program!

I, however, am prepared, for if laziness is the mother of invention, surely the y chromosome set was supplied by the breastplate.  He barely has one ear stuffed up my nose when I hook three fingers of the outside rein hand under the godsent item, tell myself to sit deep, relax my outside leg onto his side, and as gently as I can, squeeze with the inside leg and open the inside rein, ask and give, ask and give, ask and give.

I won’t lie, there’s a hairy moment or two.  The phrase “lightening of the forehand” comes to mind.  But:  he never does anything naughty.  I don’t even think any extra feet left the ground.  It just takes him a little while to figure out that this new process is okay.  And when he does, and stops worrying and displaying the whites of his eyes, and stretches his neck, and walks around like a good, mostly relaxed boy, I do what seems only fair:  I get off.  I pat and praise him, take him inside, and set him free to munch his hay.

And that is how Leap of Faith Day was born.  Barn name, “Invention.”



  1. A double-helping of goodness today! :)

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