Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rained out

I went out to the barn last night for a nice, relaxing late night ride... but my plans were thwarted by one of the worst thunderstorms I've ever been in.

The amazing thing was how it came almost out of nowhere.  We saw the cloud and heard the thunder as the storm approached, but I didn't think it was going to be any worse than a moderate storm, and being in the indoor arena while it's raining is good practice for Panama.  The minute we got into the arena, though, it started pouring.  We could see the lightning flashing every few seconds from inside the arena.  I hand-walked Panama around for a little bit — he jumped at a few of the loudest cracks of thunder, but was overall only moderately nervous.  Still, I wasn't going to take any chances and ride, so we were really just waiting for a long enough break in the storm to run back to the other side of the property and put Panama away.

The rain slowed enough that we decided to try, but Panama steadfastly refused to leave the barn.  He doesn't like rain, but he's left the barn in the rain before, so I think it was probably the almost-constant flashes of lightning and close-sounding cracks of thunder.  It was a bit scary, because while he'd been manageable in the arena, he started really freaking out once I started asking him to go out in it.

Then, at the worst possible moment, there was a huge crack of thunder and the power in the barn went out.  I thought for sure I was going to get trampled by a panicked horse, and froze.  Luckily for me, Panama followed suit.  All he did was to take one teensy step closer to me; I reached out and put a hand on his neck.  I was still standing there, trying to figure out what to do next, when the lights came back on about 15 seconds later.

At that point I decided it was pointless to keep trying to get him to leave the barn.  The rain was picking up again, and he was only getting more frightened the harder I tried.  There was an empty stall, so I put him in that (with some coaxing — he didn't want to go in at first), removed his saddle and bridle, and gave him half a flake of hay to keep him busy until the storm passed.  He paced when it thundered, and called when he couldn't see me, but at least he was safe — I was really worried about him getting loose in that.  No telling where he'd end up!

When the rain finally slowed, and the thunder and lightning moved off into the distance, we got Panama's halter and led him back to his corral.  He was reluctant to step outside, but once he was out there he was fine, and wasn't bothered by the rain or the (more distant now) lightning or thunder.  I think he was actually happy to get home and see his buddies.

The entire ordeal lasted about an hour, so we left around the same time we would have if I'd ridden as planned.  Unfortunately, the experience eliminated not just one, but two rides — I didn't go on the trail ride this morning.  When I first woke up, it looked like rain, so I went back to bed; and besides, I figured it would still be muddy (and Panama would probably still be worked up) after last night's storm.  Oh well.  It just goes to show that you have to be willing to be flexible when you have horses, because not everything goes according to plan!

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