I’ll try to be slightly less verbose than yesterday. 😉 Today was good, in different ways. There was no right-lead canter (score: Lucky 1, me nil) but when the evil scary golf cart came out of the scary woods of scary, rather than getting off or retreating immediately, I let him look for a minute and then got the bit back and had him walk on, and keep walking. (Score: One-all. I’m not counting failure to spook at J. driving the tractor with the rake around the hay field at the center of the track as a point for me because Lucky is largely indifferent to tractors. He doesn’t care about golf carts close up, either, but golf carts emerging from the woods so far away it took me a minute to figure out what on earth he’d decided to tap-dance about apparently are another story.)
Because J was out in the field, the gate at the end of the lane was open. I thought we might at least go down and take a look at an area without fences. Lucky decided he would rather turn in circles than walk down the lane towards the open gate. I lost that argument (Lucky 2, Me 1). It was a Pyrrhic victory for him, though, because I picked up the mounting steps and said “Okay, wise guy, we’ll go work in the round pen.” There was still no right lead canter, though we got around a couple times on the left. Then I decided if we were going to loaf, we’d play cowpony. I wasn’t really neck reining so much as driving with my seat and laying the rein on his neck when I did. He seemed to have the general idea, though turning right required some additional persuading.
I opened the gate and we rode over to the big ring. At this point I was figuring I would cool him out by walking him around the ring a few times. I managed to open the round pen gate from his back, and tried for a repeat performance closing the big ring gate. Today he decided that he really didn’t want to walk to the gate. Really, not, no thank you, not going up to the fence. That’s strange. He even stretched his nose back to my boot, like “See? I bend. I can do that.” Leg leg leg and a pop with the bat changed his mind. If anything, he backed better with the gate this time. (Score: 2 all.)
He probably was screaming horsey expletives at me in his head when after some lazing around, I saw the B.O. and Lucky’s Masseuse (Laura of Touch of Soule Massage Therapy–she does horses and small animals, and I’ll happily e-mail her contact info to anyone in the area who’s interested) walking behind the barn. So I opened the gate and we rode over. The B.O. suggested they walk out to the track with me, probably suspecting (rightly) I was as uneasy about the whole prospect as he was. I don’t actually think Lucky is spooky. It’s just highly disconcerting when he checks out by checking out what’s going on miles away. It’s unnerving to be on a horse who’s not listening. I also wasn’t sure how he would think of walking onto a track with a person on either side. His masseuse offered to show how she jogs him after his therapy, but my butt, to be frank, had had enough trotting for the moment. (That saddle may be comfortable for Lucky, but Prix des Nations are like sitting on boards.)
Going out on the track was definitely anticlimactic. Lucky’s big issue is staring at cars on the road. The tractor, as usual, is not a problem. The new hay, on the other hand, is both very interesting, and scooped up by the BO makes an excellent motivator for keeping his attention on the close in, rather than what’s going on half a mile away. Once we walked back to the barn, I tried the pasture again, and on our way out, despite a repeat attempt at avoidance, I figured since the gate was still open, we could go out by ourselves. (Lucky 2, Me 3. Go me!) This time, I walked him up the track, and then turned him into the big hayfield (the part that’s been cut and baled already.) I stuck to a walk in the field, since I don’t know where the holes and other booby traps are, but he turned both directions and looped back and forth with a minimal amount of looky-louing. Back on the track, I walked him up on the left around the curve past the scary woods of doom (my one concern, sudden deer appearances, seemed unlikely with the tractor and rake running) and turned and jogged him back in a two-point. I don’t know if he really gets this is a track (going out with another horse could be an interesting experiment) but he definitely had a bigger, springier trot.
Figuring this was probably enough for one day (Lucky felt that probably about a half-hour or more back) I walked him back to his pasture and made another few loops to cool down, and continued to mess with his head by dismounting out there (I spotted an ancient rusting horse shoe on the ground and wanted to pick it up.) Back in the barn, he made it plain that whatever else I wanted to do, it had better involve him just standing there. Considering he was at most mildly damp under the saddle pad, I think he was playing up the drama just a little bit, especially shoving his face into the running hose and letting his head hang for me to squeeze a sponge between his ears and rub his face with a towel. He got ridden for a little over an hour, he did not work two miles and finish with a fast eighth. I hosed down his legs and gave him liniment anyway, and a few extra peppermints. I won, but I think he earned it.
Me aside: Someone kindly explain how I walked the dogs two miles, had a dance lesson, lunch out, spent all afternoon at the barn, cleaned all my tack, fertilized the plants, and I STILL feel like I didn’t get anything done today? Also, I will be on vacation next week, and part of that is hopefully high-speed wireless at the hotel. There will hopefully be photos, including kitten photos.
Okay, I think I did accomplish sunburn on my arms. I need to get new sunscreen–the spray I got made my arms break out in a major rash.