I had every intention of riding TJ this morning. I woke up early so I could ride TJ and visit Apache (who lives on opposite sides of town at the moment) before my classes. I don’t know if the surprise of seeing me so early/he didn’t have breakfast/breakfast was being fed right as we started our work out…. I don’t know… must have sent him into a state. But TJ was not mentally on the same wave length as me today. So instead of hopping on him and riding through the distractions- which I would have done except I am trying to build up positive experiences and I was alone with a bolty Arabian.
I chose to work on our lunging and voice cues, which we are successful at and I could utilize the distractions to see if the skill was concrete. It was- for the most part. Every time I chewed my gum a little too loudly or had too much energy in a body movement, TJ used that as an excuse to act up. It wasn’t bad- he would just jump into a canter and zoom around. We used this opportunity to re-establish that whoa applies at all times, and all that matters is what I am telling him. Not his friends calling for him. Not the hay. Not the cat who wheezes with a severe respiratory infection. Me.
After 30 minutes of schooling upward/downward transitions, practicing whoa-ing from all three gaits, we were mentally back in sync. I ended the lesson by practicing picking up our hooves. He doesn’t think his front knees can bend, and gets touchy about having to pick up is hind legs. I actually added getting TJ comfortable and prompt with picking up his feet and me handling them on our groundwork goal list. I want to be able to his feet myself and to do that, he must cooperate.
As I played with his feet, we were also practicing intro to ground tying: Just standing with his rope across his back, while I am less than a few feet away. He was very level headed about this task and fidgeting was reduced to being looky. During our after work bonding time(usually a complete cuddle-fest), TJ actually groomed me with his lip! I’m happy that he was attempting to bond with me. So was this the day I planned? No. But we still accomplished schooling some skills. At this stage of the game, that is fine with me.
On a side note: Apache is now relocating from his stall and private paddock to living in the gelding’s pasture 24/7 with two geriatric Saddlebreds and a paint. Isolation and controlled turnout wasn’t making his injury heal any faster and he hated being stall bound. Funny thing is, when we introduced him to the herd, Apache flagged his tail and was floaty trotting and playing for a good 10 minutes… before he remembered his leg can’t take that. Before I left him, I gave him some pain reliever and left him munching happily on the remnants of a round bale.