Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Don't See That Every Day

On Wednesday I rode Sofie outside, and she was not as happy as she usually is, but she was definitely trying for me. She walked all over the yard, she was light and she listened very well. She didn't act up at all until I walked her away from the barn for at least the third time, and her acting up was quite minor. I could just feel that she was not happy, and was thinking about maybe doing something about it. She tried trotting a couple times, but I just brought her back down and continued on toward the trail, as I intended to just go down it a little ways. She stopped at the trail entrance, but with a little squeezing, she went forward, and she didn't get nasty or anything, it was more "Do we HAVE to?".

Then Annie came to trim her feet, which I was nervous about because she'd been having so much trouble picking up her right hind and putting all her weight on the left hind. I had delayed it about a week but didn't feel comfortable letting it go any longer (her feet are kinda important, after all), so I just had to hope for the best. We put on her cooler to help keep the flies off, and Annie was very patient with her even when she yanked her feet away. Sofie was very good and she really tried to cooperate even though I could tell it was hard on her. And her feet are still rock-solid, of course. WE LOVE ANNIE!

So. Onto Friday, which got interesting at times. But in a good way.

DISCLAIMER: No, I did not get any of this on camera. Of course.

When I arrived at the barn on Friday, I discovered that all the horses were in, as I'd figured they would be, since rain had been pouring on and off all day, interspersed with intermittent thunderstorms. The horses do not go out in thunderstorms. Sofie's door was open, however, so she had access to her paddock but it didn't look like she had gone out much. Sofie doesn't go out in pouring rain, or any kind of rain, really, if she has the choice. She loves her stall. I've never seen a horse who loved their stall more than she does. She never looks bored or upset in there, even if she's been stuck there all day.

A quick glance into the arena revealed that a guy had brought shavings. His truck and huge trailer were in the arena, and the trailer was nearly vertical. I didn't think it was a great idea to free school Sofie in there with all that stuff, so I just parked her in the aisle and groomed her. She let me pick up all her feet and clean them even though she'd just come out of her stall, which was very encouraging. The guy came back and started unloading the shavings, but she didn't care about the strange noises coming from the arena. I figured I didn't have time to wait around for him to get it over with so I could free school (my neighbor had dropped me off on her way to the feed store, and I didn't know how soon she would be back). So I decided I would tack her up and just handwalk and hope for the best.

She was not thrilled with the girth being tightened (I got some "Can I bite you now plz?" looks). But I got the girth all the way to two and two (yeah, I was just killing her) and decided to take her in the arena. I wanted to start warming her up and also see how she reacted to the freakin' huge truck and trailer in the arena.

So I led her around, talking with the shavings guy (who also helps clean the barn in the mornings some of the time), and she wasn't too impressed with the truck/trailer/shavings pouring out of it/guy standing way above her head banging on the trailer to help the shavings pour out. She looked, but she didn't get too worried, and she didn't spook. I was impressed, but not all that surprised. She never finds over-the-top scary things scary. It's the totally benign stuff you gotta watch out for.

Like when Shavings Guy came back, sans truck and trailer, to shut the arena gate. She FREAKED OUT and actually spun around to keep an eye on him. I don't know why he was suddenly so scary. Maybe she never even noticed him until then with all that stuff going on, and it startled her. Whatever, Sofie.

But after he left we got our ride on. She was really good. We couldn't really go outside because it was raining and storming on and off, and I was concerned about the surface, plus no one was there to open the gate. So we didn't go in the Big Field, darn it. But we had a really good ride in the indoor. She went around in a steady (if a little slow, for her) rhythm and listened well and didn't get ticked off at me when I made her go a certain way or didn't let her fall in. I started to experiment with lengthening her walk, since I wanted to start asking her for more speed, and I'm not exactly brave enough to just go "Sofie, trot!". It works better to start from a lengthened walk and do a little at a time until she figures out it doesn't hurt.

So I started asking her to lengthen, and after a few times she started to actually march forward in a bigger walk. I also did some halts, and a little bit of shortening, and she was mostly responsive. Then finally after a halt in a corner and then a lengthening, I got her to trot a few steps. She definitely felt a little off, and she threw her head around a little, like "This is a little uncomfortable for me", but I just petted her and praised her a lot and then let her walk and stretch. Then I did the same thing in the other direction, and she was just as good. I ended with a halt and like two tiny little steps backward. She got her hugs and all her tack taken off, and then I went to take everything into the barn, except the whip which was lying on the arena floor.

So Sofie took a step forward, stepping on the whip with one hoof. And she put her head down near the floor and started moving the whip with her nose so it smacked on the arena floor. She did that several times, while I stood there cracking up and wishing I had it on camera, because it was definitely Cute Overload material and infinitely YouTube-able. "Sofie Cracks The Whip!" ROTFL.

Then I had to clean up her stall and her paddock. She went back in her stall (of course) so I wound up taking the bucket and manure fork in and cleaning with her right there. So she decided it would be fun to play with the handles on the manure bucket and threaten to knock it down while I was cleaning. So she stood there gently pulling on the handles while I went "Don't you pull that over. Sofie. Do not pull that over. If you pull that over, Sofie, I WILL kill you.", etc. etc.

Ah, Sofie. She may have her issues, but we love her no matter what.

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