Okay, check out Mr. Chunky-butt. I didn't realize how much weight he'd put on over the last 9 or 10 months. I came across some pictures I'd taken after I'd had him for a month. And I was so pleased with how much weight he'd put on then.
(I have no clue why blogger wont let put in all my paragraphs. It is a blogger mystery.)
This is Aug of '09.
This picture was taken January of '09. I was so pleased with his gain at this point. UGH. He looks almost racy doesn't he.
With his added pounds has come a calmness he lacked before. He is comfortable now. He seems to like his life. He knows what is expected of him. He really likes structure. It makes sense for him, no big surprises from rider or handler. He has his group of people. He knows his group of people and likes them. Scary loud fast moving people need not apply for a position in Top's world. Erratic or unpredictable people and their actions spin him right out of control. (Big bay Oldenburg in your lap, seeking protection is no fun...believe me).
The other day after I'd ridden we had him out. A student's father is looking at him and says, "He's kind of like a plow horse, isn't he." There were about seven people standing around, talking and looking at a mare the student was considering for purchase. You could have heard a pin drop. It struck me funny and I said, "Yeah, he's pretty common." An ex-student (owner of the mare) snorted and said, "Dammit." Then laughed. Then there was a collective exhale, and giggles and laughs.
I knew what he meant though. The mare is a very pretty, small footed, light bones APHA mare. One of those teacup headed, exquisite mares. Alert tipped ears, downright dainty. And there stands Top in his size 3 shoes. Quite the contrast.
I rode him again yesterday. A student was watching. He was so quiet. So present. No tightness, no hurry, or coiling through his back. He was almost 'soggy'. I had to really ride to keep him up and forward. If I 'weakened' at all in the canter, he'd transition to the trot. I'm having to ride him up and forward, and he's taking it. He seems to be liking it. Almost like he wants more input. Interesting. He's not hurrying to get it right. Not rushing through transitions, or getting antsy at a change of bend. Tempo is holding, rhythm is good...hell we're on our way to real cadence.
There was one point in our ride when I realized how much he'd really changed. It became crystal clear. We were tracking left in a working trot. This flock of birds whooshed up and past us. I have no idea where they came from. It was like no birds one instant, and this whole flock darting through the air in front of us, and over us. Startled me, and I jumped. Top didn't even pause, bobble his head, nothing. He was Joe Steady. Kind of like, "Jeez Sharon, they're just birds. Get over it."