After an excellent four session week of arena work and trail rides, I had decided to give Dandy the week-end off. But came saturday and I just had a strong desire to be with my horse, to spend time with him, in a non training environment. Now, I’m fully aware that everything with do with a horse, is a kind of training, as horses learn and re-assess continuously. But after getting some significant breakthrough both in our arena riding and on the trail, I felt like interacting with Dandy in a low pressure way. Basically, I just wanted to take him for a walk, in hand, then some time grooming him.
We started walking down the road, with no particular destination in mind
On the way we walked, crossed some water, stopped, backed-up, yielded hindquarters and shoulders, bent on small circles, and laterally flexed. All of that in a stress-free and relaxed way. Then, we took some small breaks and he even got to grab a few bites
On the way back two vehicles passed us on the road. A large tractor, and a regular car. Both scared him. He was tempted to bolt and run with the tractor, and simply flinched at the car. So lots of habituation to be worked at here. Once safely back at the barn, I tied him up, but closer to the “horse-eating fence” than his usual spot. That caused him some turmoil and he spooked one big time, nearly crushing me when swinging his butt suddenly towards where I stood. I jumped out of the way, shocked that he’d spooked into my space which never happened before, though he had many spooking episodes, but always past or away from me.Then I realized being tied he had nowhere to go but to the opposite side of where he stood, or pull back. And all in all I was pleased he hadn’t pulled back. I just made myself more aware of his stress level, and gave him a brushing and some new mane braids. Soon after his eyelids went heavy and he half drowsed through it all.
Then we walked back down to his pasture, which was deserted, his buddy Picasso probably gone for a ride. I’m worried because Picasso will leave at the end of the month for an extended period of time, and Dandy might have to stay alone, which I find stressful, unnatural and cruel for him. I seriously hope we can find a fellow boarder that can share his pasture and keep him company. Once he was back in his pasture one of the stables’s resident passed by at the lope, headed out for the trail. Dandy loped along his fence, calling at the other horse. I watched the rider getting smaller, then disappearing on the horizon, and thought that was a pretty good project to tackle for us this coming week. Stay tuned for the report !