Last night was kind of an interesting mix of things going on with Smokey. The evening was really nice which meant a whole bunch of activity at the barn. Several people showed up after I got him down to the arena (still with the panels pushed aside). I was juggling the dogs, as well. Tucker is finally able to get around enough that I didn’t mind bringing him and making sure he was tied while I wasn’t with him. He’s doing really well and his fur is finally starting to make a reappearance.
Smokey was fine while I groomed him and seemed to recall my dislike for his stopping shenanigans and really didn’t do a whole lot of it. He stopped a couple times on the way in from the pasture, but not once we were outside the gate. That was a nice change.
He did act as if he were going to stop on the way out to the arena, but a brisk tug on the leadrope sent him forward again. I think part of the issue is that he may be sore from walking over the gravel. I’m looking into buying some EasyBoots for him to see if I can make that a little easier on both of us. I really don’t want to shoe him unless I have to, so it’s something to keep an eye on. He’s gotten so much better about picking up his feet that putting boots on him shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
Speaking of tack, my breast collar is just too darn big for him. I have to loop the tugs three times on one side and twice on the other to make it tolerable in fit around his chest. I guess it’s time to look for a pony sized one… He does look absolutely adorable under saddle, though. Even with it being pretty big on him.
Now, Smokey doesn’t see the saddle the same way I do. He thinks it’s immensely heavy, as he notes every time I ask him to walk with it on. He drags his feet and acts as if he’s never had anything that heavy on him before (hint: I weigh more than my saddle). But he acts as if it’s sucking the life force out of him one step at a time. That is, until I ask him to longe with it on. The saddle is probably the only thing I have ever seen him get even a little explosive about.
I asked him off on the longeline and got him to settle into a walk after a few minutes each direction. When his head wasn’t held up pretty high, he was burying his nose in the arena sand and making “I’m about to roll all over your newly cleaned and oiled saddle” motions. After a while, he started to drop his head a little, stopped trying to roll and sighed more than once so I figured it was time to trot. I asked for it without the flag and got a halfhearted couple of steps, and then asked with the flag and got what appeared to be the beginnings of a meltdown/bucking bronco moment. Thankfully, I got him stopped before anything really actually happened.
Serious business, this walking.
I got him to walk off both directions again and let him settle. We got a couple of trot circles, but I could tell we were headed straight to Bronco City if I left the saddle on him much longer. So I took it off and hung it on the fence. We got some good trotting in both directions with much less fuss before another boarder came down to longe her horse.
Smokey is a tiny pony, I’ll admit that, but Smokey has street cred or some other machismo that the other horses have fostered in him so much so that he thinks he’s the king of the barn. Smokey doesn’t take too kindly to other geldings sometimes. And sometimes he’s a downright jerk. Such was kind of the case here.
He’s never worked in an arena with another horse working, and had also not met this horse without a fence in between them. I think the two combined things didn’t really help matters. We both set up at opposite ends of the arena and set to work. I asked Smokes to walk for a while before a trot, again to feel him out. I stopped him and made him do some ground maneuvering just to get him mind back on me. Then I sent him out again and asked for a trot.
What I got was a nice, controlled trot around half the circle, then a total break form me as he headed towards the other horse being longed. He would take off, hit the end of the rope and spin back into the circle and look at me all puzzled. Like you didn’t know you were on the longeline, silly pony? I asked him to push through it a couple times, but met with a lot of angry motions and backing towards the other horse, so I decided not to push it too much. Maybe if it had been Colors or another horse he knew, but not one he didn’t.
We did a lot of walking and a lot of standing and watching until they were finished longeing. Then we picked back up at our normal longeing and did several trips around at a trot with fewer problems, though he did try to duck out on the same side almost every time. I think I haven’t worked him that long with that many things going on, so he was somewhat frazzled and trying to get back out to the pasture. We ended on a high note when he actually didn’t duck out of the longe circle, and that was that.
He walked up the hill from the arena with only a slight hesitation where we would have veered off to go eat some grass. Since he was good, I sent him straight out to the paddock instead of making him come back up to the barn.