Step right up and you'll hear a tale...
Activity on the trails increases considerably over the weekends, but my horse trainer comes in the middle of week, so I've been trying to simulate stranger danger by hiking, riding my bicycle, and leading horses out on the trails while he's out there riding my spooky grays. Since this Wednesday was a holiday, Christine had it off from work and was able to ride her mare Maggie out so that my horses could experience meeting up with a new horse -- someone not in their own herd.
She and the horse trainer returned to my barn and reported that Gabbrielle did just fine meeting Maggie, but Gabbrielle is still spooking at little things along the trail. She's handling big problems real well, like traffic and strangers, but she can't handle a rock or stick or piece of garbage on the ground. What am I supposed to do to help her get past such irrational fears? Exposure and desensitization obviously aren't doing the trick. I keep hoping maturity will help her as it did with Bombay. He spooks a lot less than he used to.
Bombay was clearly excited to meet Maggie. He ran from the horse trainer when he tried to halter him. Bombay seemed anxious about following Maggie out, but I guess he got over it. The trainer just said that Bombay was neck reining well now. I said that maybe next week I can ride Bombay and he can ride Gabbrielle, and he can make sure I am doing the neck reining training correctly. I'd hate to pay a horse trainer to do all this work with my horses only to have me turn around and ruin it by not being consistent with his methods.
Though I only expected him to ride each horse for an hour, he gave each horse and hour and a half of his time, and basically went on a three hour trail ride. Thus the Gilligan's Island reference of a three hour tour. I appreciated his generosity, so I paid him for the extra hour. He didn't want to take the extra money, but I said that as long as he was training my horses that entire time, he was providing a service to me and he deserved to be compensated.
Oh yeah, one funny thing that happened was that the trainer tied Gabbrielle to the side of his flatbed truck, and she repeatedly pulled back on the lead rope because the metal ring she was tied to kept creaking and making a funny noise. I was watching her closely, because there was the potential for her to blow up and have a panic attack, but she seemed more interested in the sound she could make by lifting her head and leaning back. While she was tentatively testing out this strange new device, a neighbor drove up in a dump truck and dumped some landfill, making a racket. I thought for sure she would lose it, between the creaking metal and the dumping, but she did fine.
The horses are getting fuzzy and I'm starting to wear jackets myself. I forgot what it is like to shiver, but we are all shivering now. It's amazing how fast the temperatures dropped. I thought summer was never going to end. Now the horses lay in the sand in the sun in the mornings to try to warm up. They're so cute. They look like babies, and I want to cradle them in my arms when they sleep so peacefully on their sides.