Before we talk about the R.I. (rearing incident) I thought I'd talk about two new horses at the barn. The Percheron and the Clydesdale.
These two horse were purchased over the internet by total newbies.
Yes, they know nothing about horses and said "I know, let's get two of the largest kind, over the internet and start riding!"
Unsurprisingly when their two horses arrived (at 2400 pounds a piece), they became a little intimidated.
Duh. I've been riding horses and have had my own for a little over five years now, and I'm intimidated by these mini elephants.
And for no good reason. These have got to be the sweetest, brokest, well trained horses ever (next to Lily). We watched the trainer work them in the round pen and got a chance to ride them. No pictures of me riding, but here's my DH - my friend KC rode and wrote about it here.
Personally I prefer a horse with a shoe smaller than a Frisbee, that doesn't go through a giant bale of hay in two minutes. Still the temperament of these two is remarkable. I rode this mare, she was sensitive to cues and stopped with my seat. Reminded me of Lily.
Their newbie owners are on a horse vacation in Costa Rica (riding Paso Finos, which will be quite a different experience from these super sized horses) and hopefully will come home with some more horse savvy. The horses, for their part, will be warmed up for riding and ready to go.
Now then, the R. I.
As I mentioned there's not much riding going on these days. But today I had time. I was concerned that Smokey was going to have a hard time, having been off work for so long. Sure enough we walked in the round pen and he saw something and spooked.
Fortunately I hadn't untied him yet so I was able to keep him close while I looked for the issue.
The trailer. The draft horse trailer was a big stock trailer with a canvas top.
A flapping canvas top. We all know how Smokey feels about flapping canvas (see parade blog entry by Smokey). So instead of staying in the round pen I decided to walk around the trailer with my snorty boy.
I like finding moments like this. Finding things that worry him, then working him through it. I wasn't always like this, I dreaded these moments. But now its like when your kid gets through something difficult the first time. It's a blessing to be the one that gets them through. Soon I was climbing on the trailer and flapping the canvas by hand since the wind had died down.
Stephanie was saddling up Lily and we decided that Cibolo was blue about being left behind so we decided to give him a pony lesson. (Cibolo is awaiting a new saddle, he's been back sore with his old one). We didn't know if he knew how to pony so starting in the round pen seemed like a good first step. After a few minutes he had it down and we hit the trails.
It was a lovely ride on our local trails, we kept it simple. Cibolo got a little honery and Lily reminded him (without unseating Stephanie in the least - good horse!) to cut it out. We decided to put him up and let the horses run the pasture.
Cibolo didn't like being left behind. He led the two remaining members of his herd on a run along the fence line. Smokey found this EXTREMELY concerning. I was able to get him under control, but I knew this was a lot for him to handle. The herd raced around the fence line, in an out of trees just on the other side. Smokey grew beneath me.
Note to self - don't let the horses out when riding along that pasture. At least not when the alpha is jealous and irritated at being left behind. I could feel the struggle within Smokey. I know how much to ask of him, especially when we haven't been riding steadily.
He was trying, bless him. I stroked him on his neck, corrected him, worked on getting and keeping his focus as horses raced past us. On the fourth run near us, when we were the closest to the herd he began snaking his head. I corrected him mildly (we were riding in a bosal) and he finally went up in a little rear. I got him back down and back under control. I almost got off but waited until we were quiet. We ended our ride calm and safe. No bolt. No jigging back to the barn. No calling and circling.
In the end, he listened. In the end he was with me.
I'm OK with that.
(Of course Lily did NOTHING. Someday Smokey will be at that point too. Someday.)