Friday, January 28, 2011

A Warm Winter Day at the Barn

I am finally well again and had some time this morning, so I headed out to see how our guys were doing. Temps were in the high twenties and it felt good to be outside and doing something after so many days cooped up being ill.

Steen came right up to the gate when he saw me, while Bear watched from the choice spot by the wind-block. It is interesting. Bear is clearly one of the horses in the herd who gets to choose where he stands and what he eats at any given moment, while Steen is clearly not. And yet, Bear has more bites and scrapes and cuts on him .

I took Steen inside and took his blanket off. Then I turned him out in the arena because he often really enjoys rolling after having the blanket on for a while. He rolled:

And then he got up and started running around the arena like mad. He wasn't calling or showing much anxiety but he was really digging in and throwing out some good bucks. I think he was just happy to be on solid footing.

I let him run around until he came back to me, then groomed him and did some groundwork. He was well-behaved and less distracted than I expected, given my level of involvement in his life lately.

Eventually I turned him back out and brought Bear inside. I decided to see what he would do when turned out. He ran around like mad too, for even longer than Steen had. So that was entertaining and I was able to get some footage and create probably the most exciting installment yet in our Not-Highly-Exciting-Video series:

When Bear was done running, I groomed him and did some groundwork with him as well. It is interesting to work with Bear, since his personality is more or less the opposite of Steen's. I am also increasingly convinced that he is a very smart horse. Usually when I handle Steen I am always trying to keep my energy level very calm and my commands as quiet as possible to ease Steen's sensitive and reactive personality.

Bear, on the other hand, has a laid back, passive personality and so today I tried to inject more energy into myself and my commands. I found that if I was slightly more mobile and intense when I asked him for things he soon began responding by discarding the sluggishness that often accompanies his groundwork. I got him to stop lagging behind when led, to disengage immediately when asked (instead of standing there giving me a "really?" look for five seconds first) and to back out of my space quickly, but he didn't seem at all nervous or upset. So, all in all I am encouraged by the experiment.

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