"Very little you do in the last week will make a difference as long as you have the essentials covered - plenty of rest for you and the horse, good nutrition, and NOT forgetting something essential."
So today I took the dog and horse and went out for a fun ride. Dixie was perfectly normal and we were constantly arguing about which way to turn and how fast to go. Cersei got dehydrated pretty fast so we turned around quickly - I don't think I can take the dog out without water any more this year. My bad, for forgetting to bring water, but I didn't realize she'd get so hot so fast. I will take better care of her!
On the way back, right as I was getting off to walk Dixie home, we saw a Mexican jockey. Tiny little dude, strapped bareback to the horse with some kind of leather strap cavesson that just barely held his knees on the horse. The horse had all those bizarre extra bits to her bridle, a lot like this picture of Sarah's, except with a tongue tie too. The jockey fellow had a crop, an eventing vest, and no helmet. (WTF? What's the point of a vest but no helmet? Don't you lose the macho points of riding bareheaded by putting on a wussy vest?) I've seen him cantering out there before; I just never was close enough to realize he's a real (underground?) jockey actually breezing, not just a cowboy who likes to go fast.
Even though we just went wandering around the hills by the sand pit, not trying to accomplish anything in particular, we still went 5.7 mph average. Dixie was fresh and not at all tired when we got back... but I had to cowboy up and try the damn crupper already.
So I tied up my not-very-tired horse, pried up her tail, wrapped the crupper under it, and leapt back waiting for the explosion. Nothing happened. I snapped the crupper on the saddle and looked at her. She turned her head and looked at me like "Ok, you're doing another weird thing to me. Whatevs." I took her to the round pen and got her to canter both directions - nothing.
This is yet another reason that I just love Walking Horses. They so rarely buck, for any reason, no matter what you do to them. She's got her hip cocked in the picture because it's nap time.
So I think this is my Plan for the Week: Tomorrow I'll get out early in the morning, ride over to the arena, put the crupper on, and ride in the arena. The dirt is fluffy and she can't run too far if she does freak out and buck me off. Then later this week, probably Thursday, I'll head over to the airport side where the hills are very near the houses and ride up and down some hills. It's not soft and fluffy, but I still won't have too far to walk home if she freaks out and bucks me off. And honestly, I think it'll be fine - I just want her to get used to the feeling before this weekend.
Hopefully Henry will be at the ride and I can buy a brightly colored biothane crupper and give this one back to ~C! If I see him, I'm going to give in and buy a pommel bag too - something designed to go over a saddle, with lots of straps to keep it from bouncing. I keep meaning to try to make one... but buying one is supporting a local business, and that's important too, right? ;)