Mocha loves to be groomed. It’s part of her whole Princess Pony persona. After a good hard workout, her clear idea of a perfect post-ride primping is a good, solid roll in the arena followed by a thorough brushing.
She’s one of those horses who makes a science out of rolling. Never rolls all the way over but once, but that’s after she’s thoroughly scratched and itched everything on that one side, which means several half-rolls. If she can do it in soft arena dirt then she’ll work her face over and over until she’s satisfied. Footing is a big deal. She won’t roll if the ground is frozen and hard, and she’s a lot less enthusiastic about rolling on a firm surface. After the roll, she stands by the gate with a relaxed, blissful expression on her face; eyes, ears and lips relaxed. But that’s just the beginning of the post-ride groom.
On hot days, she gets less grooming and a solid rinse instead. She clearly likes doing that and at liberty will turn right into the wash stall without being prompted. On cold days, as I progress through the ritual of soft curry, stiff brush, soft brush, she’ll relax and drop her head, leaning into the brush a little bit when I hit an itchy spot. During shedding season, like right now, I’ll lead out with the shedding blade and that gets the blissed-out, relaxed mare right away.
Last night she was funny about it. We’d had a good work, including a long session with a very nice working trot. Not at all Western, think of it as a good seated trot in dressage, only with Western curb and saddle. No jog about it at all, but she was round, elevated, and soft. Just…faster than will get you pinned in any Western rail class. I had to sit up, breathe deep, tighten my abs and soften my back to follow and sustain this big, energetic trot as a sitting trot. But it was definitely different from posting trot as well as Western jog. The more I softened my back and sat up and back, the bigger and more elevated she got.
(I am thinking about selling my English saddle because I am now consistently getting good elevation in the Western saddle. But that’s another post)
Anyway, it was a long, conditioning work rather than any pattern work. She came out cool with only the slightest bit of wetness after. So she had a good roll, and then I got to work on the winter coat with the shedding blade. I got the equivalent of a Standard Rex in hair off of her, and she was relaxed and drowsy before I was even done with the shedding blade. A bit of precise scritching with the stiff brush under her mane earned an appreciative lean into the brush with happy horse nose wiggles while I addressed the itch.
A good night, both under saddle and grooming. More food for thought about where I’m going with tack and riding. Simplifying sounds pretty good.