That’s pretty much what both of us did from yesterday’s less than stellar performance.
My workday was infinitely less stressful. We had “Easter Day” at work, so my eight hours at the Dover corporate office were full of entertaining coworkers in bunny ears/costumes. There was lots of laughing and maybe a little less work than usual…hey, it’s Good Friday — everyone who didn’t have to work was out riding their horses, so it was quiet!
Image was much more “himself” today as well. The faraway look had left his eyes and he leaned into the scratches I gave him when I slid into the paddock. There was a visitor at the barn, so Image stood with me while we all chitchatted and exchanged stories. He stood quietly, occasionally swinging his head around to watch the dogs rough housing further down the driveway. He snuffled my hands and cocked a hind leg. Yay for relaxed ponies!
The visitor left and we all dispersed to go do our separate things. L asked me if I would feed for her, so while she was setting up grain, I decided to play in the small, vacant paddock that was recently created. I walked Image in, and slid his halter off. Since day one, I’ve reinforced the idea that he only gets to walk off when I tell him it’s okay. He stood, still as a statue, until I “released” him. He wandered off to the other side of the paddock. I picked up my “encouragement” (also known as a lunge whip, which I really didn’t need and will forego next time!), pointed in the direction I wanted him to go, and clucked.
He raised his head and flicked an ear back.
Well. All righty then.
I flicked the end of the whip towards his hind quarters, clucked again, and pointed. “Aha!”, I imagined him saying as he broke into a stretchy trot. “I get it now!”
He traveled around me at a nice clip, though the corners caused him to get a bit “sticky”. The footing wasn’t terrible, but there were a few muddy spots, so I kept him at an easy pace.
Asking him to whoa took a time or two before he really “got it”. He mostly understood what I wanted from his time on the end of the lunge line, but he took a bit to associate the two. By the end of the session, all I really had to do was step in front of the imaginary “drive line”, and I got a smooth, immediate stop out of him.
I also worked with him on a couple of things I really never could achieve with another horse. Image is very quick to clue in to body language, and is so fur-reekin’ smart, that he picks up on things that my wonderful but slightly duller Quarter Horse GP never really could. A cluck, a “come here” gesture with my hand, and the command “walk up!” has him immediately walking towards me. Palms out with a stern “whoa” — dead in his tracks. Pointing at him, clucking, and the command “back” has him backing away from me from quite a distance. I know this doesn’t seem like much, but I’m SO not used to working with a horse that “tunes in” so well. I’m also not used to working with a horse with this level of try. Not to mention, I’ve also never owned a horse of my very own that needs some help…so, you know that kind of plays a big part in how excited I get over every little bit of progress!
I ended up moving around the paddock with him at my shoulder. He stopped, backed, and turned as if he had a halter and lead on, so that was really cool as well. Even when we were done playing, he stood with me, licking and chewing as I got instructions from L about feeding the herd. It wasn’t until I walked him back into his paddock, which is only separated from the vacant one by some electric rope, that he wandered from my side…and that was to chase Gus away from me. Take that, you obnoxious gray beastie!
A couple of other interesting notes from today:
Mares. Sigh. There is a Newfoundland pony mare on the property in the next paddock right now. Image is, apparently, quite smitten with said mare. Heather doesn’t even look at him, so as he stands in the corner closest to her paddock and gives her that deep, throaty nicker he usually reserves for food (and on one occasion, for me!), head up and ears at attention. During our little “round” pen session, I had stopped him to let L’s mother walk through to go to the back paddock. He swung his head around, caught sight of Heather, and he nickered suggestively. Uh, no. BIG no. I’m not sure if he was gelded late or what, but I have no interest in that becoming any sort of issue. I quickly pushed him off and had him hustle for a lap or two. He didn’t do it again while we were working. It was an interesting discovery, as B didn’t have any mares on the property. Who knows when he last encountered a pretty lady? Regardless, I’ve seen what happens when geldings get obsessive over mares. He may never get to that point, even if I don’t address it now, but I don’t want to take that chance.
It also looks like I’m going to be on the hunt for a different probiotic. The one I have been using, Omega Alpha’s Biotic 8, does not please Mr. Pickypants. This sucks because I really trust Omega Alpha’s products. I may touch base with them on Monday when I get into work to see what they recommend to make it a more appetizing. If not, I’ll be looking for a pelleted probiotic. There will be a bit of a trial and error process here. I was never much of a supplement person until working for Dover, but now that I know what I know, keeping him on a probiotic seems like a smart idea, especially because he’s a bit of a worrier. Ulcers are so, so, SO common with domesticated horses because of the way we have them live, and I’d like to avoid having to buy Gastroguard at all costs!!
Tomorrow will bring a VERY thorough grooming session, because he was totally disgusting today. Maybe a walk around the neighborhood. Maybe nothing more than scratches and getting him clean. We shall see!
Here’s a quick video from this afternoon!
I apologize for the obnoxious clucking. His tendency to get sticky in the corners made me over compensate, which I didn’t realize I was doing until after the fact. I need to work on that so I’m not being a nag! So, turn the volume down and look at the cute pony. 😀