...and for once, my horses are afraid of the same thing. Usually what bothers one doesn't faze the other, and vice versa, so having a common fear is a rather big deal.
Their common fear, as I discovered today, is the sound of rain on the roof of the indoor arena. We had a crazy thunderstorm with torrential rain this afternoon. I had planned on going to the barn, and I was so upset about the possibility of losing out on the one thing I wanted to do today, that I decided to go despite the storm. By the time we arrived, the worst part of the storm had passed, and I obviously have begun to take Rondo's calm nature for granted, because I assumed he wouldn't be affected by the storm the way Panama would.
While I was grooming him, though, I began to suspect he might be a bit too up to ride for a few minutes as I'd intended. And by the time we got into the indoor arena, it was starting to rain a little bit. As unflappable as he is in the indoor arena, I never thought he would be bothered by the sound of the rain on the roof, even though most horses are initially (and Panama still is).
But Rondo started having a meltdown almost immediately, and the only thing I can think of is that would have caused it is the sound of the rain. I immediately changed my plans, and Michael headed back to the tack room to get my lunge line. Rondo almost trampled me twice by freaking out while I held his reins, waiting for Michael to return, mostly because another horse who was freaking out on the lunge line over the same thing was setting him off -- he wanted to run around and act crazy like that other horse!
So when Michael came back with the lunge line, I hooked it up as fast as I could, forgetting as I did so that Rondo tends to be a bit of a wreck when going to the left -- even on a good day, he tends to stop a lot (asking to switch directions, I think), and then dig in and run like he's being chased when he's told to keep going in that direction. He also offers the occasional buck when he feels especially frustrated with that answer.
So in this video, you can see that in the beginning he's just melting down in general -- you can't hear the rain hitting the roof, but I really think that was the main thing that was upsetting him, combined with the fact that he was already a bit worked up from the bad storm earlier. There was also another horse in the arena who was being lunged, and who was also rather worked up about the rain -- and every time that other horse exploded, Rondo did, too, even if he was otherwise close to calming down on his own.
If you watch closely, you might be able to see where he stops freaking out so much because of the rain, and starts throwing little tantrums because of which direction I'm making him go. That's where he begins to stop periodically -- asking to turn and go the other way -- but because he was still kind of up at that point, I didn't trust him to stand still while I switched the lunge line. Once he started moving a little more calmly, and stopped exploding, I did go ahead and switch his direction so that he could go the way he prefers.
And here is a video of him going his preferred direction, near the end when he was a little calmer. Shortly after Michael took this video, I was even able to get him to walk a little -- at this point he was still too worked up to remember that there was a speed between running and halting.
I was disappointed that I didn't get to sit on him and ride a little, like I'd planned, but this is exposure that is very important, too -- obviously more important than I realized, considering I didn't think he would react this way!
Labels: horse training