Corona and I have been having quite a bit of fun lately, and I feel like a breakthrough was made when I decided “no more x-ties!” I’m not swearing them off completely, as I’m sure there’ll be some instances where he’ll be on them (ex: for the blacksmith etc.), but I’m making a concerted effort to not use them at all right now. Up until last weekend, I’d never had to contend with having dogs/people around while working on this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when more distractions / excitement/ dogs (Corona hates dogs) were added to the mix. Last weekend, CG came to the barn with her 2 dogs, Gus- who is quite well-mannered around the horses and who is terrified of Corona (but not the other horses) and Meesha – who is relatively new and can be considered non-horsified. Since their doggie friends were out to visit, the Boss also had her three dogs out. Of the dogs, only one is a small dog (sheltie), the other 4 are medium to large (German shepherd, lab/Burmese mix, springer spaniel and a border collie). When all five of them run around, it’s like a circus and they haven’t quite mastered the art of staying outside and not running though the barn like a pack of hooligans at any given moment.
I had Corona in the aisle and was grooming him while keeping a close eye out for any dog-attacking thoughts to enter his mind. I had wondered if all the excitement would make him dance around in the aisle, but he was so well-behaved!!! He gave stink eye a couple of times, and he had an indiscretion where he actually lunged at Meesha, however, a) she stood in front of him and barked at his face and b) after he surged forward, he jumped right back into place where he was supposed to be even before I had finished yelling, “no!”
Once we had tacked up, CG and I had a nice relaxing ride with both Gus and Meesha. It was really interesting because the entire time, Gus was trying to teach Meesha the proper riding etiquette. Any time she would get out of line (getting too close to the horses, trying to chase them etc.) he would pull rank on her and put her in her place. I think having a relaxed ride with both the horses and the dogs was a good idea as it let them get used to each other and allowed for any necessary corrections to be made a lot easier than if we had been having a more formal schooling session.
The past few rides, I’ve been taking Corona’s saddle off and riding bareback for our cool-down. He’s surprisingly comfortable even though he has a really high wither and isn’t the chunkiest of horses. He actually seems to enjoy it as well as I find he’s very eager to stretch down and just relax without a saddle. This has made me question whether his saddle isn’t comfortable, but I’m pretty sure it fits him correctly and I haven’t noticed any issues previously. Maybe my seat bones are like a nice massage on his back?!?
After our ride on Sunday, I convinced CG to give bareback a try on Roller and she reluctantly did it. Once she was on she was happy about it, but I think she had some reservations about even being able to get on him without the assistance of stirrups (he’s rather high). Once she was on, I then convinced her to try trotting and she collapsed in fit of laughter as Roller picked up the trot. It was quite funny to watch and I think CG has added “practice sitting trot” to her “to do” list.
I rode again last night, this time with one of the Boss’ friends (M) who trucks in her young horses to the Boss’ property sometimes. We had a good ride and I found it good to ride with unfamiliar horses as it allowed me to practice getting and holding Corona’s attention. He did very well and M even said how well-behaved he was, i.e.: “Did he even notice the new horse? All mine wanted to do was go and say hi and yours just ignored!” M said this in front of the Boss and I was beaming in my proud horse-mama fashion. M and the Boss were talking about how M’s horses don’t really stand still and run around giraffe-like sometimes since they’re so green…And then it happened. The Boss said, “Corona used to be like that, but now he’s good and will stand still”. WHAT????? A COMPLIMENT????? ABOUT CORONA???????? Sure it’s not like she said he should go in the Horse Hall of Fame, but it means a lot considering she wanted the horse put down 2 months ago and she only ever tells me what an @sshole he is. It didn’t even stop there. After M left, I was saying how well behaved Corona was and then the Boss said, “Yes, he was good.” Lightning struck twice in one night! Time for me to buy a lottery ticket!
And just to save the best for last – recall the trailer incident of 2 weeks ago – the one where Corona wouldn’t load and ended up galloping around the track? Well, I’ve been working on this in hopes that loading for the show on the 15th will be a bit less chaotic. On our way out to the field after our ride, I stopped by the trailer for some practice. Who loaded 3 times in a row with only 1 mild hesitation? That’s right, Corona – my vote for the next inductee into the Horse Hall of Fame!!!!!