Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Slow Day

Since Brian and I have been riding so much lately, my last extended bareback loping session left my legs pretty sore, and I had to cram a trip to the barn in between many other things yesterday, Steen and I had an easy ride. The weather was more pleasant than it has been the last few days - in the mid 30's, but still and sunny. It actually felt nice as I walked to the pasture.

Unfortunately, Steen had rolled and was rather dirtier than when I last saw him, though I suppose I should count my blessings as he seems more fastidious than many of the other horses and while he will roll in damp dirt, he will not roll in genuine muck (of which there is plenty in the winter pasture).

I took him into the barn, and he was very relaxed while I groomed him. I took him to the indoor arena and skipped groundwork (something I haven't done for months) and hopped on bareback. Another girl came in a few minutes later with a mucky horse and asked if she could groom in the corner. Of course I said of course and she tied up while Steen and I walked around, flexed, and then trotted - all with him behaving perfectly. And I mean perfectly! Stopping on a dime, standing once stopped, walking until asked to trot, trotting beautifully. Even when the other horse left, although Steen did trot a little faster for a minute, he soon settled back down and continued to be perfectly well behaved.

So, I have developed a theory. Right when I returned from my week of not going to the barn, Steen was behaving really, really well. We had a few great rides, and then suddenly he wasn't behaving as well. The last two rides in particular, he was verging on bad about standing once stopped, and once he had trotted, really wanted to pick up the trot again when he was supposed to walk instead. I think I have finally pinned down the difference between the good rides and the not-as-good rides. All the days he has been more inclined to misbehave have been very windy, and yesterday, as well as the string of days right after my week off of riding, were extremely calm.

Of course, I have noticed in the past that most horses are made more nervous by the wind. It only makes sense that a prey animal would not enjoy something that would make sneaking predators much harder to detect. I think what made this less obvious to me is that Steen's nervousness over the wind only shows up when he's being ridden - groundwork, grooming, and all other forms of handling have been absolutely consistently lately. Still, I am going to pay more attention now to see if my theory holds true, and if I am correct then wind is just another thing we can work on getting him used to. It makes me feel better just to have a potential reason behind his changing behavior, anyway.

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