Friday, February 4, 2011

Cabin fever

My gelding's mustang playmate, galloping

We had quite a week.  Monday we had a snowstorm and the beginnings of a deep freeze — by the time the sun went down, it was somewhere around 10 degrees, I think.  Tuesday didn't get above zero until early afternoon, and only topped out at about 3 degrees, and I don't think it ever reached the 9 degrees they were predicting on Wednesday.  Thursday was supposed to warm up, which it did, but it snowed almost all day too, so Panama's blanket stayed on (and Spaghetti's — I'm blanketing for his mom while she's out of town).

Today was a little better — I think it got into the 40s, although it was a slow climb because it was so overcast in the morning.  (It actually snowed for a little bit where my husband works, on the other side of town, but not at the barn thankfully.)  I got out to the barn around 10am, pulled Panama's and Spaghetti's blankets, and turned them out together for a little playtime.

This was the first time I've turned them both out by myself, and I can definitely see the value of having two people.  I thought long and hard about what order to turn them out in, and I ultimately chose to turn Panama out first.  I was pretty sure whoever was already turned out was going to go after the second horse when I brought him into the arena, but I was more confident in my ability to chase Panama off while unhooking Spaghetti.

Spaghetti is usually a pretty mellow little guy, especially considering he's a mustang, but today he was in rare form.  He wanted to trot all the way to the arena, and I had to stop to circle him around me several times.  As we reached the arena gate (with Panama trotting along beside us at the rail, of course), Spaghetti started pushing me around with his head and trying to nip at me, urging me to hurry up and turn him loose.  I know he was anxious to get out after moping around in the cold all week, but I wasn't going to take him into that arena until he was behaving himself, so I made him circle me outside the gate until he offered to stop and was willing to behave.  (Several times he offered to stop and then immediately nipped at me, which earned him more circles.)

Once he was ready to wait patiently for me to unchain the gate, I took him in.  As expected, Panama was immediately on us, and I threw the end of the line at him across Spaghetti's back.  Unfortunately, it took several line-tosses to get my point across, and by the time Panama got it, Spaghetti was getting fired up about the line-tossing.  So he tried to go after Panama, Panama forgot about what I was trying to tell him, and they reared up a couple of times, with me yanking on the lead line and yelling at them to cut it out.  I'm sure this was all very amusing to watch!

Finally, after some line-tossing, line-yanking, a few rounds of bite-rear-squeal (from them) and several choice swear words (from me), they figured out that the pesky little two-legged wasn't going to let go until she got her way.  They positioned themselves facing one another, and waited patiently for me to get the halter off, which I did.  And they didn't run me over once I had it off, either!  So I consider the experiment a success: I didn't get squished, and I'm pretty sure they figured out what I wanted of them.  Not that I am eager to repeat it any time soon to find out...

After a nice long playdate, I put first Panama away, then Spaghetti.  Spaghetti was very good for me and led well this time, but still had a lot more pep in his step than his usual.  I hung out, chatted a bit, and got a little work done (I'd brought my laptop, planning to wait there instead of driving home and back again) until it was time for my lesson.

The lesson was "an adventure," as my trainer called it — Sid (the horse who tried to kick us a couple of weeks ago) was in the indoor, ground driving with her owner, which Panama found very interesting and maybe a little concerning.  Then another horse came in, and completely flipped out about the ground driving.  Unfortunately, Panama (who was already a little squirrely) decided that if the other horse was scared, he'd better be too, and then everything was scary.  Even my trainer moving her arm a little as we walked by triggered a spook.

It took a while, but we worked through the wiggles (more or less), and even got some trot pole work done.  It was a bit of a frustrating lesson for me, because it was spent with my trainer talking me through how to work him through it.  In other words, I didn't get to do anything interesting!  But I guess that's part of working with horses — you have to be patient when they have cabin fever after a week of bad weather.

My gelding, waiting at the gate for me to come get him



At February 10, 2011 at 4:35 PM, Anonymous Melody said...

Geez! Glad you didn't get squished! I bet you'll be glad when it gets to be spring.

Crazy horses!

At February 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I'll be glad when it gets to be summer, because spring usually makes them crazy, too! LOL We are having a run of good weather now, though, so hopefully winter is almost over!


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