We've been incredibly fortunate here in Lexington to have summer stick around as long as it did this year. But in the past week temperatures have fallen drastically, which has left many of the horses at our barn—our precious seniors included—with a serious case of the friskies.
Despite the fact that Dorado seems to have a permanent case of the friskies, he's famous for his antics when the temperatures start their descent. Once the really cold weather arrives he settles down (read: he hates cold and spends the entire winter dreaming of spring), but if the past few years have any bearing on what's in store this year, I'll have my hands full for the next month or so.
The leaves are still green on our farm, but Dorado knows it's fall...and he's full of friskies!
Photo: Erica Larson
It's usually around this time of year that Dorado miraculously finds his (very!) distant Arabian heritage and trots and canters around on a longe line with his tail straight in the air, snorting the entire time. Now's also when the barrels we've been working around and jumping over for the past two years become horse-eating monsters (he showed me this trick yesterday) and when it's a necessity to try to move in the same gait as the horses galloping, bucking, and playing in the pastures near the arena. And of course, it's the time of year when Dorado floats around while playing with his pasturemate Chase in the most beautiful, upper-level-dressage-worthy gaits I've ever seen him produce (and it's now that I sigh despairingly knowing that—more than likely—I'll never be able to find the buttons to coax them out of him under saddle). Yes, the fall months are always an exciting time with Dorado!
While I'm quite happy for Dorado to get some energy out and have some fun, I constantly worry that he'll do something just silly enough to hurt himself, especially in the cold temperatures. Contrary to what he believes, his body isn't five years old anymore; add more than a decade and it takes him much longer to warm up his aging body up to work in chilly or downright cold weather. So each day that I arrive at the barn to find a sound horse that hasn't bucked/jumped/reared/fallen/slipped/etc. with a cold, stiff body and, thus, injured himself is a tiny miracle in my book.
On the flip side, I've known many other (saner?) senior horses—especially those in the lesson program I worked in—who take the crisp autumn air in stride. The extent of these horses' fall shenanigans was maybe a head toss, tail swish, or spring in their step as they came in and out of the barn each day. And most of the same horses wouldn't dream of pulling any funny business with a student on their backs.
Fall is a great time of year to enjoy spectacular scenery and brightly colored leaves on horseback, to get the last few good jump schools in before the ground freezes, or to just spend some quality time with your golden oldie…providing said golden oldie isn't jumping out of his skin with the friskies!
How do your senior horses react to the falling temperatures? Please share your experiences…I love reading your stories!