Today was the big day - Linus' first day back under saddle!
Let's start at the beginning... Linus came to us with two known "issues". First, we were informed that "he absolutely CANNOT be crosstied!". Supposedly he used to pull back and panic, but after a few days of working with him and teaching him to give to pressure, he stands nicely and behaves himself like the good boy he is.
The second thing we were told was that, "you cannot tighten his girth indoors." Well, come to find out, it's not where you tighten his girth but with what force you choose to do so. As long as his girth is tightened incrementally, Linus is fine. He doesn't blow out, or up, and stays quiet and relaxed. I have been working on this with him diligently over the past few weeks, and he has done wonderfully.
So today was the big day...
We put Linus on the crossties, gave him a good grooming and made him shine. He enjoyed every part of it, especially having his butt scratched. (Some things will never make sense to me, I guess!) Lucy put on her riding boots, strapped a helmet to her head, and the three of us headed off towards the arena.
I walked him around while tightening his girth a hole at a time and he was fine. No bolting, no sucking in, no rocking back on his hindquarters. He just needs to be handled slowly, that's all. The girth was tight enough, and with an easy leg up and Lucy was in the saddle. Linus stood like a gentleman and waited for her cue.
They began walking around the arena and within a few moments, he dropped his head down and relaxed. He seemed comfortable with the day's activities, content to be back to work, happy to have a purpose again...
After a while they picked up a trot. It was difficult at first - Linus really isn't in a hurry to go anywhere and Lucy's short legs weren't very convincing to him. It took a lot of squeezing, a lot of clicking and eventually he decided he couldn't stall any longer and picked up a cute little suspended trot. A little squeeze back on the reins and a "whoa" and Linus went right back into a relaxed walk.
We reversed direction and asked for both gaits again. It still took a bit of convincing, but he eventually decided he would give us another trot. After that came our final test - the canter. After seeing how lazy he was at the trot, I had really low expectations of him actually picking up the canter without the use of an artificial aid. But, as fate may have it, he not only picked it up, but stepped into it beautifully from the walk!
His canter was... different. Not how I would expect a 16.1 hand horse to move, but cute nonetheless. He naturally stays very collected and is a smooth but lofty mover. Lucy said he felt different than our other horses, but she liked it.
Although we haven't taken him out yet, we have heard from his previous owners that he was a quiet, trustworthy mount that used to carry 6-year-olds on the trails. After what I saw today, I wouldn't doubt any part of that.
The good news is that Linus is sound and ready to return to an easy lifestyle of being a family horse! The sad news is that we are hoping to find him a good home and he may be leaving our farm here.
We hope that over the next few weeks of working with him under saddle more, that he will be ready for a new home by the end of September. I am hoping that I will be able to find a family that will be able to adopt him or lease him long term. The "perfect home" comes in many shapes and sizes, but my biggest concern is that he is well-taken care of, and of course, adored like the sweetie he is. He deserves it.
The positive side to Linus's moving on is that this will open up room at our farm here to take on another rescue case if one should come this way.
If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in giving Linus a perfect, long term home, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org