Finally got to see my Little Smokey!
Last night I got to the barn after a rousing day at jury duty (happy “vacation day” to me, right?). I went to retrieve Smokey from the paddock and he walked right up to me. He backed from the halter just slightly, but nothing a little lead rope around the neck pressure didn’t correct.
I figured he would be a mess after a few days off from seeing me while I was out of town, but he was actually very well behaved. Aside from being a turd and not wanting to leave his beloved Colors in the pasture, he fell right back into all the things we learned before I left.
I had to drag him and wait him out a few times in the pasture on our way in, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the day he spun on me and not nearly as frequently. He seems to do better when there’s someone else out there with me or he sees someone else near the arena. It’s like one human won’t make up the Colors deficit, but two might. Either way, my mom had come with me to check him out and make sure I didn’t die. I was glad to have someone there in case he was nutty after his training hiatus.
We walked down into the arena. The paddock gate maneuvering was a little rusty, but he did move off the pressure to his ribcage and swung his butt around when asked. He’s so bendy in the neck that you can pull him around and he just folds in half instead of swinging his butt around. We’ll get there with that too. Being bendy isn’t a bad thing.
I groomed him up, including fly spray which I think he is beginning to appreciate more completely. I still use the rag to apply it to his legs and belly and the flies seem to just disappear. It’s pretty great. Definitely better than the Bronco stuff I was using. I’ll have to try some other sprays and see how I feel about them. Rubbing him down all over takes forever and I’m impatient. He’s still not fully shed out of his winter coat yet, which better hurry up since temperatures are soaring here.
I asked him off in the round pen at a walk (on the longeline) and he walked off just as asked which I was both shocked and pleased by. I put him through his paces at a walk and trot, switching directions like a champ and moving along really well. Because he was doing so well, I decided to push a little. I got after him with the flag and made the kissing sound to indicate I wanted something more than a trot. At first he seemed upset that I was getting on him, but eventually broke into a canter for a few strides. I stopped him and praised him profusely. I had him walk off the other direction and slow his breathing for a few minutes and then did the same in the other direction. We got a few strides that way and he got a little ornery, so I backed off and made him do a controlled trot both directions, then walked him to cool off.
Being a bad pony.
He did great and I was really proud of him. He also seemed pretty tired, so I decided to lead him around the pen a little – I think this is super important that he still be actively learning and paying attention when I’m not pushing him off me with the flag. So we do a lot of leading exercises that include stopping, starting, backing and spins on haunches and fronts. He’s doing very well in most of these, but he does seem to get mentally and physically tired at the end of our sessions. We’ll both have to work on our stamina.
After I cooled him down some, I decided to push a little more. He was being good and after Colors wandered up to check out his progress and then wandered back out into the paddock, I wanted to keep his attention just to show him he can even when Colors isn’t supervising. I played around with the mounting block, tossing it near him and setting it up near his left side.
I climbed up on it and pet him all over his back (man, he has a short back!). At first he was a little skeptical and would back up to get his head near me. This leads me to think that I need to spend more time around other parts of his body to get comfortable with me there without walking off or trying to get love for his head. I had to get on him about backing up after he had been corrected a few times. I could tell he was doing out of “I don’t like that” instead of fear or skepticism, so I backed him hard a couple times when he backed away from the step while I was on it. This got his attention and he stood still for a few times as I lay across his back. I put about half my weight on him before he moved off.
I did this a few times before I decided he’d had enough for the day. He was pretty tired so I walked him up to the grassy area and let him graze for a minute before leading him out to the paddock. I took off his halter and let him roam. He tried to follow me out of the gate, but got the picture pretty quick and trotted off to find Colors. He never canters on his own!
I have to brag on my dad’s awesome carpentry abilities for a minute. He’s currently building me the biggest, baddest tack “trunk” around. It might actually be big enough to serves as a storm shelter and sturdy enough too. I’m dying to get all of my horse stuff out of my truck (it smells like flyspray all the time now), so I can’t wait until this baby is finished! THANKS, DAD!