At least the weather’s improved!

It is back to being more like pre-summer than November. Although looking out the front window as I type this, the clouds are looking kind of gray in the distance.

Today was a busy day, at least for me. This was my Saturday to work, and it was also Tractor Supply’s one-day pet sale, so before work I ran down and picked up dog food, cat food, dog treats, and hey, there were 24-packs of AA batteries for $5 (and of course everything in the house takes AA, except for the occasional oddball remote that takes AAAs.) I really only went for the dog and cat food. Of course Tractor Supply is like Toys R Us for grownups as far as I’m concerned. Last week’s massive trip when my parents were visiting was a shopping spree including a huge discount tub of biotin, a new Troxel, and three pairs of my Best Jeans Ever. (When you find comfy jeans, stock up.)

AFTER work, which was uneventful except for the ghost haunting the office being especially noisy today, I went down to the barn. I fully expected this to be a short trip. I can hear you laughing. When I got there, it was still sunny and warm, but the wind was pretty fierce. As long as it’s not bringing in more rain . . . Lucky didn’t wander off to the very far end of the pasture, but he didn’t go out of his way to come any closer. Dino did not give us any problems about going out the gate, and we managed not to run over Pest, who was hanging out in the barn aisle.

Lucky is still fuzzy, though it’s starting to come out in large quantities, so I have hair all over everything. The recently-oiled girth is going to be fun to clean. Again. It was attracting hair before I put it on the horse. While I was grooming him, I found another of the spots the vet tentatively identified as a sarcoid. I don’t want to question the vet, but it really behaves and looks an awful lot more like a fungal condition. The old patches are responding to the iodine and bag balm, so I’ll keep treating that and talk to the vet. If I had a trailer I’d be tempted to haul him up to my parents’ and have Doc Pol take a look. I know he’s a good horse vet. Not that the vet here isn’t, but when there’s only one large-animal practice that people can use, you wonder how complacent they get.

We started in the round pen today. Lucky was having another ‘looky’ day and it took me forever to spot what it was. In the Big Scary Woods, the guy next door was cutting wood from downed trees (of which there are a lot–we had a huge storm this week and in some places whole buildings got taken out). And he was using a lawn tractor and trailer to haul it. I think I’m going to be really glad when the trees leaf out. As long as we were moving out it wasn’t really an issue, though, so I asked for a bit of a canter. As Natalie said over on her blog the opposite of “forward” is “up”, and we had a lot of Mach 3 trotting with the head well above the bit (hey, at least he goes on a loose rein), a wrong-lead canter, and a few strides of labored left-lead correct canter. The opposite direction we got almost all the way around on the correct lead. He is really the opposite of what I’d expect from an OTTB, much more flexible to the right than the left. While he’s not exactly bending, he does yield to my right leg more readily than my left (quite well today; “Yes, that is my foot, and that is the fence. You don’t have to go THAT far over!”)

I decided that since he was going so nicely, except for the ADD moments, we’d go into the big outdoor and do a few trot poles. I managed to open the sticky round pen gate from his back and we were good right until we were approaching the gate to the outdoor. This pointed us right at the scary man in the scary woods with the scary trailer of wood. Lucky decided to stop, and leg and stick had him thinking about going backwards. So I hopped off–I realize this can be construed as rewarding the behavior. As I’m out there alone (J., BO’s Husband, was in the house and knew I was riding but wasn’t anywhere he could do anything) I’d rather deal with issues on the ground if they seem inclined to head south. I flipped the reins and we walked into the ring, and walked down to the far corner closest to the scary man in the scary woods with the scary trailer. He got to have a nice long look, and it did seem to be less weird than before. I don’t know why things are just less scary when the monkey is standing next to him instead of on his back, but whatever works.

This also meant time for another solo attempt at using the mounting block. (Unless I grow two inches or he shrinks, the block is a necessity.) I have two choices in the outdoor, a big set of steps and a stump. Lucky has his own style of approaching the mounting block, mostly not doing it. He doesn’t make a fuss, he’s just very good at planting his weight. In the round pen we just use an upturned five-gallon bucket, and I can move that. I picked the stump, and it worked without too much fuss. He did step off again, but he stops right away if I ask.

We did some more trotting, and tried a line of poles, with a small stack of poles (a little pole pyramid, probably the height of two poles) at the end. Steering is still a big issue, but he is learning to pick up his feet. He even tried a teeny hop over the pile, once, before realizing that he didn’t have to make that big an effort. Lucky prefers the path of least resistance (or no resistance) as a general rule. We did the line maybe three times, and I figured we could finish off with a walk outside the ring.

We were okay approaching the gate, but it was like his feet hit the grass and that was just too much. I got him back once, and we were pointed at the paddock fence, and then he started a scramble again and it was half up, half backwards. I got a very short halt and hit and the ground, and decided we were going on a walk up the Scary Lane, which parallels the outdoor between it and the big pasture and ends at the gate to the trails through the Scary Woods. This is the direction he had decided to head very quickly away from, so we took a walk that way. He went from a bit of scooting to a fast walk to standing at the gate looking at the Scary Man in the Scary Woods to finally wondering why we were looking at the boring woods. I took him up the middle lane after that to the track gate and back, and since I hadn’t gotten off when I wanted, we went back to the round pen and I got on again (he was probably sick of it by this point) and we went around a few times. By then he was cooled out (I will be SO happy when he’s done shedding) so I took the saddle off and we went back to the barn. To his disappointment, I just curried (more hair, everywhere), did the iodine on the scaly bits, and put him back out. J. had put out their dinner and Lucky was hoping it was suppertime. I’m sure the treats tided him over.

On the list of “things you see when you don’t have a camera” I found the small flock of cowbirds following Trudy, Dom, and Takota around amusing. I know they’re nest-stealing pests, but at least they were doing what they’re supposed to do.

Weather permitting, I’m hoping to get back to the barn earlier tomorrow, since I don’t have to work. We’ll see how long I end up sleeping, though!

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