Petey and I had some time in the round pen today, and it was a lot of fun. I hope that it was enjoyable to my horse as well.
We had just gotten into the round pen, taken the halter off, and Liz called to let me know that a horse was down, and it seemed that he couldn’t get up. Of course, that took precedence, so I told Petey I would be right back, and went to help. Fortunately, the horse got up and seemed to be just fine. We’re a little touchy after Harley couldn’t get up last week.
As I headed back to the round pen, I could see that Petey was pacing, but he didn’t look overly anxious. I went in, and he came up to me, stopped a polite distance and lowered his head. What a good boy, Petey!
I gave him some scratches, and decided to ask him to walk around the pen a few times in each direction. Just in case any residual nervous energy needed to be dispelled. Petey complied like the gentleman and scholar that he is.
The last couple of times I brought a saddle pad out to put on Petey, he had been bothered by it. He walked off, and his eye got worried. Today, I had brought my by carhartt out for a makeshift pad. I left Petey unhaltered, and walked over and grabbed the coat off the rail. I was followed by a big brown horse, much to my delighted surprise. Capitalizing on this, I walked around the pen a little with the coat, brown horse following. As we learned in our MCC clinics, horses don’t follow what they’re scared off. Thought I would employ this rule here.
Then, I slowly stopped, and so did Petey. He was right next to me, he had put himself exactly where both of us would be if I were to get up on his back. I slowly lifted my coat up onto his withers. No response at all from the brown horse. I adjusted it a little, and the unhaltered, loose brown horse stood right in place. This was a big change. I walked around, and he followed me. I switched directions a few times. Everywhere I went, Petey was right with me, even when I spun quickly. It was fun! I found myself laughing and playing with the big brown horse. I did discover that Petey is still much more comfortable with seeing me out of his left eye. Just something else to play with. All the time we were “working” on this, though, I found it to be so much fun. No reason for me horse to follow me other than I invited him and he wanted to. He needed no other encouragement than me walking off. What a great horse!
We stopped, I pulled the coat off, and then I put Petey’s halter on. I decided that he could carry the coat back for me. He’s a really good carrier! Interestingly enough, his eye got the tiniest big worried when I put the coat on him while he was wearing the halter. He didn’t move off, but there was a difference.
On the way in, the coat fell off Petey a couple of times. I had to laugh, because the thoroughbred didn’t shy at it, but I did! And, some good news was that Petey’s eye looked much better when I repositioned the coat for him to carry. Good boy, Petey! I really hope that Petey found today as enjoyable as I did. I believe we took some good steps toward helping get rid of the concern that the saddle pad brings out. I am not sure if it’s causing a reaction because he was in pain before (due to his kissing spine), but it makes sense that he wouldn’t completely look forward to what comes next. My goal is to help this be different for Petey, and allow him to better enjoy the experience of riding. Fun is good!