This weekend was really great! Smokey was a champ at pretty much everything we did, with a few exceptions. I mean, really, he’s been doing some things he just really has never been asked to, so moving in the right direction with the little things really indicates progress to me.
Saturday was kind of a mess. I kept waiting for the clouds to disappear and ended up at the barn much later than intended since they never did. I was convinced the weatherman was wrong about how cold it would be, too. This worked out in my favor once I got Smokey out of the paddock. He was all wound up. I guess having the weekdays off really got to him. They’ve been out on the grass pastures a few times this past week and this weekend, so I think he was a little amped on some sweet, sweet fescue. Once I got him into the barn it became clear that he was not going to leave his friends easily. I spent the majority of our grooming trying to get him to stand still and keep him from exiting the barn out the open door.
After testing my patience for endless dirt removal and fancy dance move avoidance, we headed out to the arena where Smokey decided that he was EVEN FARTHER FROM MY FRIENDS and proceeded to be a total nincompoop for a few minutes. I got a little irritated with his antics and made sure he was well aware of it by making him change directions at a rapid pace for several minutes at a time. The first few times, he still checked over his shoulder to make sure everyone was still where he left them, but he finally got the picture as I increased both the frequency of the direction changes and how fast he was to perform them.
This is one time I was glad I was cold tacking up, since it meant I was ready for the running around and craziness of the groundwork I had to do. He [and I] got sweaty in a hurry. I mean, it was something like 60 degrees (a friggin’ heat wave, people!) and he was actually being asked to work. I felt pretty good about it, though. I finally felt like I found a groove to get him in the arena with me mentally. He’s an athletic little booger and doesn’t have any problem performing the turns like I was asking, but he certainly doesn’t want to pay attention enough to put his feet in the right place to do them from time to time. He wants you to know he has a lot of feet, and sometimes they just go wherever they go. Sometimes that makes him fall down, sometimes it doesn’t. Teaching him spins is going to be a blast…
After we got focused, I managed to get something of a ride in, as well. We did some more serpentines and circles and even a figure eight or two at the trot. He’s doing pretty well. He is still very obsessive about the bit. He doesn’t want anything touching his mouth, but you can pull all day on his halter (not that I’m doing that, mind you). If I so much as guided him a little with the bit, he would toss his head or even thrown it between his front legs and try to pry the bridle off in its entirety. The first time he did that, it scared the poo out of me. I was simultaneously concerned about being launched over his head like a lawn dart and having him step through his reins and having a huge situation on my hands. Thankfully, neither of these things happened as he magically didn’t flip on himself or me and only scratched his head ferociously on his legs and didn’t take any steps. After all that happened, I basically threw away my bridle reins and made sure to do a few more productive things before I hopped off, just using the halter to guide his face.
So that was that for Saturday. Since it never got really warm or sunny, it meant I wasn’t able to wash him as planned. I did, however, manage to get him on the washrack and stand still while I hosed off his gigantic sweat stain where the saddle was. I think he was so pooped from working that he just kind of relaxed into it. Worked out for both of us!
Sunday was a bit better weather wise. Not only was it sunny, but it also got up to like 70! Not surprisingly, Smokey’s body was pretty excited about this and has seriously begun the hair removal process. Honestly, donning a HAZMAT suit while I’m grooming him crossed my mind. The amount of hair that came off his chest alone was concerning, and nothing past his shoulder has lost a hair yet. It’s coming, though.
I’m ready to work! (Just kidding, I’m a brat)
We got some great groundwork in. He was MUCH less uppity than he has been on Saturday (I think I finally wore him out a little bit!) and behaved a little bit better on the longeline than he has on Saturday. One thing I did notice was that his halter would twist across his nose when he leaned on it and rub at his eye. He, naturally, wasn’t too excited about that and made a scene about it. I’ll need to look into widening the noseband a little and see if that helps it not twist as much.
I didn’t even bother putting the bridle on him since I didn’t want to fight about it anymore. I clipped my neon green reins to the halter and just rode him like that. It actually worked very well. He was less head tossy and didn’t seem nearly as distracted. He did itch his face all over his legs again, but I think is had more to do with having an itchy face full of hair that’s falling off and being sweaty. We worked on trotting all sorts of shapes and stopping and backing (thanks to Elisa, he now backs when you bump his shoulder with your foot). I’m terrible at that, so it’s a bit messy still, but I’m getting better. Smokey is an old pro now. Basically, we need to train me on pretty much everything. Yeesh.
I bathed Smokey after our ride. He stood in the wash rack better than usual, but still danced around quite a bit. I’m working up to crosstying him. We’re getting there. He did much better than he had the past few times on the rack, so I feel like that’s coming soon.
After his workout and before his bath:
After his bath (but still wet – I’m really impatient):
When I turned him out, he waited exactly 30 seconds and then rolled in the dirt. So much for that bath… But it’s not like I didn’t understand the futility of it anyhow. It rained this morning, so I’m sure he’s a mess again already. The life of a wild pony.
Must. Not. Be. Clean.
Here’s a video of his pasturemates playing in the creek. I, of course, cut the video off right as Smokey hopped back out of the creek all adorably. But now you can enjoy over a minute of ponies playing in the creek because I was hoping Smokey would join in.
Also, In case you were wondering how hard life at the barn is, Boots would like you to know that he’s just plum worn out.