Thursday, May 19, 2011
Qrac meets Kwintus
Qrac is home! After five weeks at a the equestrian facility where he’d been living since I brought him back from the South of France, I took a deep breath, grabbed my courage with both hands (that’s a French saying, by the way. I just translated it directly and think it came out kind of cute. Does it exist in English?), and, last Saturday morning, hauled him over to “my stables” where I introduced him to Kwintus.
I’d initially chosen to stable him temporarily elsewhere because, as yet, my stables doesn’t yet have an indoor arena, and I thought it would be safer to get to know him in an enclosed area. Also, my trainer lives close by, making it easier for her to come more often than just once a week. It worked out really well, and despite the pickle I got myself into in the two weeks where Marie-Valentine was away coaching at FEI competitions(remember the tumbleweeding I described in my previous “Semi-Floppy” post?), our final week there was brilliant as I managed to have a lesson a day. By our final lesson last Friday tumbleweeding was almost a distant memory. So happy was I that I joked with my trainer about employing her full time! Imagine how cool that would be?! I really need to play the lottery…
Jokes apart, as brilliant as it was to for me to have more regular access to Marie-Valentine’s lessons, I was impatient to take Qrac “home”. For one, I missed seeing Kwintus on a regular basis, and with Qrac stabled at one end of lake Geneva, and Kwintus stabled at the other, it was hard to go to both places in one day. I mean, I could manage it, and did so a few times, but it meant spending hours in the car, leaving little time for anything else. But the main reason I couldn’t wait to take Qrac to live with Kwintus was because he never got any fresh air. His stable was dark and small and dusty and muggy, and I literally felt guilty putting him back inside after I’d ridden him, knowing full well he wouldn’t get any light or air or exercise until I returned twenty-four hours later. None of the horses stabled there were being let out to graze yet, and even if they had been, Qrac couldn’t have joined them because the fencing wasn’t adequate for a stallion. And since I was mostly riding in the indoor arena, the poor guy hardly went outside at all. I lay awake at night, worrying about him, which was probably silly as he was perfectly fine. But still…
Ideally, on a totally selfish basis, I’d have left him there another few weeks, and have continued to take umpteen lessons a week with Marie-Valentine, consolidating the progress we’ve made, stabilizing the contact and the reaching and the tempo. But I wanted him to be able to graze. I wanted him to have fresh air. I wanted him to more room to move around in his stable. And if it meant I’d only see my trainer once a week, then so be it. We’re not going to the Olympics any time soon, so what’s the rush?
Luckily, Stephanie (the owner of my stables) has recently had the small arena fenced in, and so if all hell breaks loose and Qrac goes loopy while I’m riding him (or even just lunging him), he can’t get out and gallop away on a testosterone fuelled rampage. Not that I think he’s going to do anything of the sort, but I’ve got a vivid imagination.
Qrac has settled into his new and improved lodging beautifully. He goes out every morning for about two or three hours, after which he gets a bit bored and bolshy, so he’s brought in again. He seems to be very taken with Kwintus who is now his next door neighbor, to the point where I’m beginning to wonder whether my stallion might swing both ways! Actually, it’s not just Kwintus he’s into; he gets pretty noisy and hot under the collar whenever there’s any equine activity in the courtyard. I’m guessing he’ll calm down in a week or two, as he reacted similarly when we first arrived at the previous place.
As far as working him goes, I began by lunging him in the small, fenced arena for two days. I had every intention of riding him on the third day, only to arrive at the stables to find he’d cast a shoe clowning around in the field and had to call a local farrier to the rescue. I finally rode him for the first time on Tuesday, with mediocre results. Distracted by Kwintus and Coconut in the adjacent field, I had a hard time keeping him focused, and so we did our fair share of tumbleweeding which was a little disheartening , but I told myself to be reasonable and to give it time. And sure enough, the next day he was much better, responding to my “semi-floppyness” and to my half halts, and enabling me to actually ride his hind leg. I was so pleased by how he went that I my self-confidence shot up, and I actually took him for a cool-down ride around the countryside all by myself! And today, after our workout, I repeated this feat of bravery, even pushing my limits by asking him for a trot! How about that? Are you impressed, or what?!
So, all in all, things are going well. There have been some slightly hairy moments, and I’m becoming more and more aware that owning a stallion is far more complicated than owning a gelding. Qrac is a very laid back stallion, but when he starts snorting and prancing and displaying his very impressive equipment I must admit I tend to get a little nervous. Consequently, I’m already considering having him gelded, as I think it will make life easier, both for him and for me. And even if he is an approved stallion, I didn’t buy him with the intention to breed, so why keep his extra bits if his extra bits might cause even the slightest concern?
What do you think? Do you have any experience or advice?