Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In honor of Halloween...

...Sofie was surrounded by scary, strange things when I went out to ride on Sunday. When I went out to catch her, a pack of sugar-crazed little kids were shrieking and beating an apple tree with sticks. Sofie had her back turned to them and was clearly unconcerned. She even walked up to me and let me halter her without any reluctance.

Usually, no one else is out at the barn when we go to ride, as we tend to go during the hours when normal people who aren't trying to make a living with a sheep farm are in school or at work. This time, however, one of the other boarders came out about the same time we did to ride her BIG, black QH gelding named Bud. Bud is a very, very, VERY mellow western pleasure horse who does not consider himself to be a hot, studly stallion (unlike many of the other geldings at the barn) and Sofie is not a little tart of a mare, so there was no sexual tension between them. However, Sofie did get rather wide-eyed when Bud was led back into the aisle after his ten-minute ride. Either she was thinking "I got totally screwed on the Rider Lottery...I want to be HER horse!" or just "Holy CRAP, that horse is BIG!" Either way she got pretty high-headed, but I realized after the fact that the underside of her neck no longer bulges like some freakish steroid-using bodybuilder's biceps when she raises her head. I really should have gotten a picture of her former neck. Trust me, it was scary.

We got Miss Sofie tacked up, and I did my usual five minutes of wandering aimlessly around the indoor arena as Sofie fell asleep. Then I had my mom open the gate to the great outdoors, and rode out. The neighbor's kids were still whacked out on sugar (and getting louder and more violent by the minute), but Sofie wasn't worried about them. We trotted and cantered around for a while, and during the course of our ride, the scary things mounted up:

-The neighbor with the sugar-crazed kids fired up his tractor
-The neighbor across the street fired up his riding lawnmower
-A horse trailer pulled up, and a New Horse was unloaded (if you've ever boarded a horse, you know how crazy things can get when a New Horse shows up)
-The New Horse, a little POA mare, went out with the mares and proceeded to squeal at the geldings like a little tart, causing the geldings to act like idiots (even more than usual)
-The people who brought the New Horse laid out metal roofing materials so they could work on the barn roof

And this is why I love my horse. Even while all this craziness was going on, she was still doing everything I asked. I asked for the trot in different places (when she was still having her "I don't WANT to trot, dammit, how 'bout I bite you instead?" moments, I would always ask her to trot going toward the barn, which greatly reduced the aforementioned "bite me" reactions), I enjoyed a nice long canter through the front yard, and when she got momentarily worried about all the scary stuff, I got her to walk and then relax.

The only really sticky moment was when I made the mistake of trotting her a little too close to "the fray". She was trotting along just beautifully, and then she saw the horse trailer, which worried her. Then she saw the maurauding children, the guy on the tractor, the New Horse being fought over by the Stupid Geldings, AND a bunch of metal roofing materials laid out by the barn, with people standing by them. Too. Much. She got total sensory overload, all the scary things monopolized her attention, and we lost steering for a moment because she developed Brick Wall Neck and Concrete Mouth. I didn't blame her for being a little overwhelmed at that point; there were just too many scary things for her to lock onto anything and figure out that it was okay. We somehow got turned around, and then I guess I got her down to walk and we wandered around a little bit and relaxed again. I don't really remember the specifics because I was too busy trying to steer a horse that had an acute case of Brick Wall Neck and Concrete Mouth. But she was really very good. She didn't have a violent spooking reaction, or wheel around and bolt. And I got some confidence that I can handle her in weird situations.

I don't know of too many horses I've ridden that I would have trusted enough to ride them outside in the open on a day like that. She got an extra-long grazing session, and then got to go meet the New Horse and eat extra hay that was put out to make the introduction of the New Horse easier.

Next time I will hopefully write about Sofie's hoof rehab and all that good stuff. Wednesday is Sofie's first chiropractic appointment, which I'm looking forward to. Hopefully she will like it better than her cranio sacral/myofascial release sessions (yes, I have to write about that, too...).

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