After walking my morning mile, I lunged Gabbrielle. She started out great, but then got bored and started bolting and pulling my arm out of its socket. My husband wants to buy me a round pen so that she can't do that, but I want her to just learn to be light on the rope and only change gaits when I say so. It's going to take a lot of corrections and praise at this point to get her to that goal. She did suffer one natural consequence of bolting when she stepped into a deep hole and fell on her face. You can bet she slowed down after that.
Lostine took off like a bat out of hell and galloped circles around me for about ten minutes. I decided not to correct her or slow her down, because she was light on the rope and it was just so dang good to see her run like that after the terrible condition she was in earlier this summer. I could tell that she was really enjoying herself. Of course, she can run anytime she wants, but I guess being back in school got her excited. She ran until she was huffing and puffing and dripping with sweat. I had to walk her for a while around the four acres to cool her down.
She was so relaxed that I decided to take her out into the desert on the trails via lead rope and see if she'd do any better with the herd-bound issues. She was okay until we got through the gate, but then kept spinning around because Gabbrielle was screaming for her. I tried to lead her around, but it was more like she was leading me around. I whacked her on the chest with the end of the lead rope to get her to hang loose next to my shoulder instead of pulling ahead. It worked at first, but then she eventually got desensitized to it. My shoulder hurt from trying to hold her next to me, so I just let her run circles around me. When she settled down, we headed back to the house.
My husband said that Gabbrielle was galloping from one end of the paddock to the other, checking each stall over and over to see if a gate suddenly opened somewhere. He thought she was going to try to jump the 6-foot fence.
I lunged Bombay and saw his tail going up higher and higher along with his head. He kept looking at the arroyo, so I was expecting a coyote to appear, but instead about six or eight kids on bicycles rode to the top of the bluff and watched us a bit, then rode off. Yesterday I was taking Gabbrielle for a walk when two girls with two dogs started coming down the bluff until they saw us. Then they turned around and went back up because they knew they were trespassing. They stood up there watching me walk Gabbrielle, who was pointing at them and snorting. I cut her loose, and she charged the girls and their dogs, which totally surprised me. It was aggression, like my horse was trying to chase them off. I don't think it was just curiosity. I've never seen a domestic horse behave that way. The funny thing was that she succeeded, because the girls ran off with their dogs.
I rode Bombay in the arena, but was having problems steering him again. I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, and then Gabbrielle started playing with the step stool, the lead rope I left on the ground, and the riding crop that I accidentally dropped when mounting. She gets a hold of the leather on the ends of the rope and the crop and chews it, so I had to keep pushing Bombay into her to chase her off. I had to be careful to stay in control with my voice, because Gabbrielle has no qualms about kicking Bombay nowadays. I was taking a gamble that she wouldn't kick him if I was on him.
While herding her around, a low flying plane began circling us or something. I was so concentrated on Gabbrielle's body language, getting ready to dodge a kick, so I couldn't look up, but this pilot was totally obnoxious and would not go away. My husband mentioned that he heard it from inside the house, and it sounded like the pilot was dive bombing us and doing tricks.
After a while, both Bombay and I were bored and I still hadn't fine-tuned his steering. My husband is really good about coming outside to see if I need his help with anything when I'm riding. I cannot mount a horse from the ground. I have to use a step, so once I'm up, I'm up. I've gained a lot of weight over the summer, and it takes a tremendous amount of energy for me to mount and dismount, and I don't want to use up all my energy doing that repeatedly. I'd rather spend my time in the saddle.
I remembered that my son had left me some colored cones in the garage, and asked my husband to get them and lay them out so that I can use them like a slalom course. He also brought out two big traffic cones we used to warn people of construction around our properties. At first Bombay was eyeing the cones, tilting his head to the side and pointing his eye at them, so I circled them for a while until he lost his concern. He went right through the traffic cones on every pass without balking, so I know his problem with the gate is simply his resistance to leave the herd.
My husband was kind enough to take pictures too.
The cones did end up helping give Bombay a goal, so he was more responsive to my steering cues. He's the type of horse who asks why when I say, "Go left." But if he sees that if we go to the left we will go around a cone or through some cones rather than over them, he doesn't question my decisions.
It is overwhelming having three horses who all have various issues after being "out to pasture" for so long, but we are making progress. Last week I couldn't tie a horse to the trailer to saddle up, because the trailer blocked the horses' views of each other and they'd run back and forth whinnying. Try putting boots on a horse that is running from side to side. Not fun nor simple. But now the horses will stand behind the trailer without fussing. I have to celebrate the little things.