In addition to his regular walks, Rodney did two new exercises:
1) Trotting in hand.
B) Walking through a ring.
Which one do you think he handled?
It was finally time to get back to the trotting in hand that got derailed two months ago by his freakout over the new halter [Slow Lane]. For the non-horsey among us, this means I trot on foot, holding the leadrope, horse trots calmly next to me. It’s not a particularly natural activity, so most horses have to be taught. Usually, they object by not trotting at all. On the other end of the scale are the super-fit horses during the soundness exam at Rolex. Riders can look like they are holding the string to hyperactive kites as the horses gallop down the jog lane.
For our practice, I set up two cones, approximately 50′ apart. We walked forth and back several times to set the pattern. I then quietly, gently asked Rodney to trot by voice and by breaking into a slow shuffle. Or so I thought. Turns out I began screaming, gibbering, and emitting flaming spitballs. He wanted no part of that. During one of the fusses, he threw a front hoof in my direction.
You want to see screaming & gibbering? I explained in to him no uncertain terms that striking at people with the front feet is not allowed, not even a harmless hoof toss that might one day grow up to be mistaken for a strike. He seriously wanted none of that and took off bucking.
Here’s the weird part. He ran maybe 100′, circled back around, and came running to me. Really, made a beeline back to where I was standing. Someone had yelled at him and he wanted me to reassure him. Made sense to him.
We eventually got a very few steps of trot, declared victory, and went home.
When we got back to the barn he was hot, sweating, and had the veins in his shoulders standing out as from strenuous exercise. Class had lasted perhaps 10 minutes, most of that at a walk. Yes, he ran off, but when he has happy feet, he can zing from one end of the field to the other without breaking a sweat.
As his after work treat, I rub him with a towel until I am sure he is calm. Usually takes a minute or so. It took at least 20 minutes until he orbited back into this universe. That evening, he looked as tired as if he done a training ride for the Tevis Cup. Whatever the demons are, they are real to him.
We took the pool tubes from last week [Noodling], joined them in a horse-sized loop, and tied the result upright between two standards. Then, I asked him to walk through. That’s it. No successive approximation. No asking him to walk next to, then over, then under, before asking for all at once. Just, boom, scary thing, get on with it.
Rodney didn’t bat an eyelash. He clearly saw it. He thought it was interesting, but at the end of the day, no big deal. A horse could be excused for taking a week to accomplish what Rodney did in the first minute. We lowered the ring to wither height so that he had to duck his head. We finally got a reaction. He ducked his head. Sum total of his response to the exercise.
Okay, he did startle once when Hubby adjusted the noodles while we were walking away. It was a weird noise. I think I spooked a bit as well.
I cannot grok this horse’s priorities. Predict, yes. Explain, no.