He's Baaaaaack!

That's right, folks, it's time for another installment with everyone's favorite overgrown pony!

Oh, Sully, you big hippopotamus. 
2016 was a rough year for dear Sullivan. After competing in one horse trial with me, one with his mom, and participating in a handful of lessons, Sully decided that he didn't wear front shoes anymore. So he started taking them off. Constantly. And with his shoes came off large chunks of hoof wall, putting the big guy out of commission for the rest of the summer and into the fall while we patiently waited for his feet to grow out again.

By November Sully's shoeing situation was finally under control, so he went back to work!

And then he popped a splint.

You could have just ASKED for a six-month vacation, Sully.

In any case, his splints are set, his shoes are firmly on his feet, and Sully is back at it!

I got back on him for the first time in a LONG time during the glorious, unseasonably-warm weekend we had, and it was great to be back behind those big black ears. I just love that giant pony!

I'd forgotten just how much work it takes to manage all of Sully's body parts! One of his favorite evasions is to wiggle, and during our first ride it took some serious wrangling to get the hind legs following the front legs and the head and neck pointed in the right direction, and the shoulders staying where I wanted them. But eventually we got there, and the big hippo gave me some pretty great trot work. He had a trainer tune-up in the brief period between losing his shoes every week and popping a splint, and it definitely made a big improvement in the way he accepts the contact. I can now just present the bit to him, put my leg on, and he reaches right into the bridle and starts working over his back. It's a pretty great feeling! True that he can't hold it 100% of the time and definitely tests the waters to see if I'll make him stay round, but his understanding of contact is really so, so much better. It helps me ride more correctly, too, which is a great bonus!

The second day I rode Sully, we worked for a little longer in our big back field. The walk and trot work were even better than they were the day before now that Sully was on board with being back in real work, but the canter was a bit of a hot mess.

The canter is hard for Sully to begin with, and without the help of a fence or arena wall, he kind of totally falls apart. His head flies up, his back gets tight, and he just kind of throws himself all over the place. It's not pretty. Thankfully, I remembered this about Sully, and opted to finish up the canter work using the fenceline around our pastures as a barrier to help keep him straight. It worked perfectly, and Sully was able to give me some nice round canter work!

I love riding this horse, and I'm so happy that he's back and ready to get down to work! Riding Sully reminds me that I do kind of, sometimes know what I'm doing, in addition to just being a wonderfully fun and cheerful guy to work with. Hopefully this weekend will include lessons on both Sully and Dino as we get the ponies ready for show season!



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