Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Indoor Adventures

This evening was session #5 for me at a local riding stable. This time, since the driveway has finally melted, I decided to bring Guinness along with me.

He loaded right up, even though he hasn't been on a trailer in a few months, and we headed two miles down the road to the stable.

Once there, I opened his window. Guinness was very interested in the cars passing by on the highway and he nickered at a horse in a paddock in the distance.

I unloaded him and walked him into the indoor arena. There were no lights on yet, so it was pretty dim, but he walked right in (knocking over buckets hunting for food as he went).

The barn manager directed me to a large stall in the corner where he could safely hang out to watch me ride. I parked him in there, and then went just outside to catch my lesson horse. While outside, I heard loud banging and some yelling. It happened again. The barn manager hollered, "Clare, you'd better get back in here - your horse it trying to climb out of the stall!" Oh my.

I walked quickly back in to see Guinness rearing up and trying to scale the bars at the top of the stall. He wasn't calling and seemed pretty deliberate about it. I whistled to him to let him know that I was coming, and then approached him. He reared again, and I waved him back as I entered the stall. Once inside, I backed him up some more until he dropped his head, and then attached his lead rope. I opened the stall door and asked him to wait, then turned him around and he backed willingly out into the arena. Whew!

I gave up on the lesson horse and changed plans to play with Guinness instead. We walked around a little on the 12' rope, then walked outside to switch to the 22' and to put on his bareback pad. Once back indoors (with the lights on), we played online until we ran out of things to try and he was feeling happy.

Fortunately, there were only two other people in the lesson and everyone was very patient. Guinness was starting to look for more things to do, so I asked him to pick me up at the mounting block. He simultaneously tried to push me off of the mounting block, stand on it himself and park-out. He was very enthusiastic. Once he got into position, I climbed aboard and gave him a treat. He then kept twisting his head around trying to see if I had more cookies.

We walked casually around and explored the arena. (The trainer commented that he didn't appear at all worried about me being on him.) The other students decided to try pole bending for fun. Guinness stopped and STARED, especially when the horses cantered toward us. I don't think that he has ever seen horses running around with riders on them.

He was so intent that I allowed him to try it himself. He steered surprisingly well, but doesn't yet respond to leg pressure to move forward, so I had to resort to patting him on the rump (I forgot my spanky string).

All went great through the end of the lesson. I even cued him to lay down to roll two times - rewarded by cookies!!

It was dark outside and I needed to load Guinness to go home. The trailer was parked on a slight hill, which didn't help his head. He loaded once, then backed out and refused get back on. I was thinking, "Oh great, and I can't even leave you in a stall overnight.."

I reparked the trailer in a more level place, turned on the interior light, then reapproached the task with a helper at the rear with my stick. When he started to balk at moving forward, she tapped him on the rump and he hopped right in and started eating, so she shut the door. We let him relax for a minute, then closed everything up and headed back home without incident.

What a saga! Now we know that we need to work on trailer loading in the dark, stepping up with individual hind legs, and hanging out in a stall. I'm looking forward to taking him back next week. Fortunately, the time will change before then, so it will still be daylight when we finish up. :-)

1 comment:

Spud's grandma said...

He certainly looks relaxed...after his attempt to "escape" from the stall. He just wanted to be with mom....I think he may have attachment issues. :-)