Sunday, April 17, 2011

Steen the Chilled and Steen the Chill

This weekend we had a visitor. Brian's sister, Christina, came up from the Chicago area and one of the big objectives of her visit was to hang out with Steen and Bear (she'd never met either of them before and has spent very little time with horses in general). Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate and when we headed for the barn on Saturday it was after a morning of rain and snow. It never got below the 30's, but apparently that was enough.

Steen is really losing his coat (which we all know is not super effectual to begin with) and I guess he was pretty miserable out in the weather. He saw me approaching the gate and came hurrying in my direction. I took him inside and he was completely wigged out. He was not interested in saying hello to Christina, but he really really wanted to roll. We turned him and Bear out in the indoor for a few minutes and he rolled about six times and then tried to get Bear to chase him around. He was only partially successful, but I was really surprised to see him going into Bear's space and trying to grab his halter and otherwise just being incessant about it. Once Bear finally complied and chased him a bit, they both came over to us so we tied them up and tried to groom them. Steen was still just seeming upset and uncomfortable, though. I gave him a snack and he seemed to settle. I did some groundwork and he was super responsive. I hopped on bareback and walked and trotted around the indoor and he was actually quite good although he had that feeling that he might go in any direction at any second. This was disappointing because Steen is often really great with beginners. In the sort of mood he was in, however, I didn't trust him with Christina.

I did think maybe she could sit on him bareback while I led her around though. It turned out I was wrong about this. She climbed up and Steen just started prancing and jigging and I basically recommended she get off again rather quickly. This was quite odd. Steen has never before minded a bareback rider when I'm holding his halter, but he was perhaps just up against too much that day.

After that Christina did ride Bear, who treated her to a not great ride. (You can read about that on Brian's blog.) While this was going on Steen did calm down quite a bit, particularly once I put his blanket back on. He let Christina spray apple-cider vinegar in his hooves and brush his mane out.

Today we decided to make another attempt. We found Steen dozing in the sun, all toasty warm and about as relaxed as he gets. So, Christina was able to have the ride today she missed yesterday. He was great for her as she walked him around the arena - pretty much as chill as he gets. She had remarkably good posture and no anxiety at all, so visit two was a success.

By the end of today, Christina and Steen were getting along so well they posed for a glamor shot.

After Christina got off, I rode Steen a bit. We did a quick warm-up and then some trotting and loping. He was great for me, although at one point he picked up the wrong lead and then proceeded to get extremely upset, I think because it was uncomfortable for him. Then he got so flustered I couldn't get him to switch. We'll have to work on that.

Horseback Hours YTD: 12:40

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