This morning on our drive to see Fred again, the rain came down. I knew that the arena where Fred is would be fine but I really didn't want to ride in the rain! As we reached the front gates the rain started to ease. A good sign! Fred was already saddled and waiting for me.
I was told that Fred had been in more work since I had last seen him - about 5 weeks ago - so I was expecting to see him with more condition and looking better. This was not the case. Unfortunately Fred looked the same, his coat dull, no muscle condition, large grass belly.
I walked him down to the arena and mounted. He was a happy chappy to walk around. Up into trot. Not forward but happy to mosey around. His head carriage was better, not as jerky and could hold a frame a little better. His canter was better than I remembered, it is so comfortable and light. I guess the best way to describe what it feels like is Pepe Le Pew but forward.
A friend of my mothers who is a very accomplished dressage rider offered to come out and give her opinion. She turned up after I had been working him for probably about 20-30min. She watched me ride walk, trot, canter and transitions.
Her opinion: first impression of Fred just standing there was poor but once he started to move she liked him. His paces were even and nice. He showed an ok lengthening, not huge but some. His temperament sweet and he came across to her as very trainable. YAY!!!!!!!!! Hooves look good and strong, conformation is good, neck a little short. Smoochy always wins points!
She didn't like his condition, the lump on his head, the scar tissue/wound on his back leg, a small lump found under the dock. All these things will be checked on vet check and xrays.
I took him out into his paddock, trotted and cantered around. He wasn't fussed when the horses in the joining paddock kicked up their heels and the two horses in the paddock we were riding in, joined in. Fred wasn't fazed. He trotted away from his paddock mates with a little more coaxing but still happy to do so.
I then took him out on the road. Walking around to the front gates he was looky but went forward off my leg. He had a good look around out on the road but the further we went the more relaxed he became. Along our ride we came across a herd of about 20 goats. His head went straight up and he started to slow but when asked him to round again and keep going forward he just kept an eye on them out of the corner of his eye. We turned around and he was happy to walk on a long rein. He went to head back down the road to home and I asked him to keep walking past.
Fred: Um I know you're new around here and home is down this way
Me: Thanks Fred but I would like to investigate what is up this way
Fred: OK then but it really isn't very exciting
We didn't go too far and turned around. Once we turned into the road to home his stride length lengthened but he didn't start to rush. I asked him to halt. Nope that wasn't going to happen. Head went up and he found it hard to keep his feet still. I insisted that he halt and every time his feet stopped moving I relaxed my seat and hands. It didn't take long for him figure out that it was easier to just halt. I would turn away from home and walk back the way we had come, turn around and start to walk home again. I did this quite a few times, each time it took less and less time for him to stand still. About 100m from the front gate the owner of the property was crouching down weeding. This was a obviously a monster of some sort crouching down and getting ready to pounce. I could feel Fred's heart pounding, head was high, nostrils flaring. He didn't spin to get get away, instead he stood and looked and when asked to move forward, did so even if it was slowly. When she stood up Fred let out a big breath and continued to walk home.
I took him in and unsaddled him. Gave him a brush and a good rub. He wasn't really sweaty and it was cold so I just rugged him again. They did give him a small hard feed. When he was finished I led him back to his paddock. When I took his halter off he just stood there. I gave him a good head rub and a kiss. He watched me walk back up the hill before rejoining his paddock mates.
I found out that he isn't getting any extra feed at the moment, only if he is ridden and if it is what they gave him today, it isn't much. The paddock is full of manure and the grass isn't good quality so no wonder he is so light on in condition. He was taken to jump club last weekend where he was taken in the 60cm class by a very nervous young rider who had never been out before. I got to speak to her and she said that he was fine, knocked a few rails but didn't put a foot wrong for her.
My thoughts after today: I really like Fred.
Mainly clean legs
Has been taken out to competition environments
Condition/lack of muscle
Lump on head
Large wound/scarring on hind leg
Braces against me in downward transitions
I am going to ask for a trial. My main concern is what he is going to be like when he is fit and feeling good. I expect him to still be quiet just more active and forward in his paces but it is a risk. The owner is away competing this weekend so I will have a chat with him when he gets back.
The lump on his head
Fred when I said goodbye