Thursday, January 1, 2009

At long last: An afternoon at the barn

Yesterday was warm (in the 50s) and wasn't windy (most warm days lately have been exceptionally windy), so I spent my first long afternoon at the barn in quite a while. And I have to say, it was heavenly!

First of all, Panama was in a much better mood than he has been lately, so I have to conclude that it was the extreme cold making him skittish and cranky. He didn't so much as bat an eye when I brought the halter to him, and even put his nose in it for me just like all the skittishness had never happened.

The back pasture was completely dry, so I took him back there and tied him up, just like I always did before our run of cold, snowy weather. He seemed happy enough about that. He was slightly jittery when I first started grooming him, but calmed down enough that I was even able to French braid his tail.

After that I lunged him. He started out great — controlled walk and trot, quick response when I asked him to slow down or stop. He even gave me a controlled canter the first time, aside from a little head-shaking to tell me he was feeling frisky. But when I slowed him to a trot and then asked him to canter again, he decided he'd had enough of the games, and ran pell-mell around me, bucking and going as fast as he could without pulling me off my feet.

I finally got him to slow to a trot, and then a walk. We practiced a bit more, and he did give me a reasonably controlled canter on that side before we switched.

But when we reversed directions, it was the same story all over again: He walked and trotted nicely, but lost his mind at the canter. I decided lunging wasn't working, and once I got him to slow down, halted him and removed the lunge line. A swing of the line and a couple of clucks, and he was off again, but without me hanging on for dear life.

Panama cantered around me at a decent clip for probably ten minutes, and I quite enjoyed egging him on. At first he was sporadic, running himself into corners and turning sharply to avoid hitting fences, but eventually he fell into a nice round circle. As his canter began to look more controlled, I stopped encouraging him, and he slowed down. His sides were heaving and his chest and neck were damp with sweat when he approached me — ears pricked and looking very contrite, I might add.

I lunged Panama at the walk to cool him down, and he was very well-behaved. Then I tied him back up with the lead rope, rubbed him down with a towel, and gave him a good brushing. After that it was time for the dreaded wormer. (This was actually two weeks overdue, but with the cold wormer and Panama acting crazy, I didn't dare try to worm him until I had a chance to work him first.) He actually took it without a fuss this time, though he did make a lot of disgusted faces, and looked at me very accusingly afterward. But after making sure he'd swallowed, I gave him a few treats to clear the nasty taste out of his mouth, and he forgave me.

All in all, it was nice to spend an afternoon at the barn. It had been way too long!



At January 17, 2009 at 9:54 PM, Blogger Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Sounds like a fun day for both of you, with the exception of the wormer, that is. hehe


At January 19, 2009 at 4:28 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

It was fun. I love spending time at the barn around my horse, regardless of what I'm doing. Even the wormer was a positive thing because it was so fast and easy -- a big difference from the ordeal worming Panama used to be!


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