Last fall my friend Victoria purchased Andi, an eight month old Icelandic colt. Now Andi, like Hrimmi, is a yearling. Ever since she purchased him, we’ve talked about getting the two together for a (ahem) play day.
Today we pulled it off. I drove over to Victoria’s at mid-day and we prepared to load up Dustani, her Rocky Mountain Horse, and Andi. We figured that we’d put Dustani in the trailer first, and then Andi second. This made sense to us both. The two are buddies. It’s sort of like a boy’s club. Dustani loaded up, no problem. Andi, well, he didn’t want to get into the trailer. To him it must have seemed like he was being asked to enter a dark cave.
I first tried using a butt rope and tapping on his feet with a wand. No go. And Victoria repeatedly led Andi away from his friend. I then had an idea, which we acted upon. This was to toss a handful of carrots on the trailer floor. After a bit, Andi leapt in. I slammed the door shut behind him, opening it just a bit so Victoria could get out. Of course, this was the right thing to do-his lowering his head and eating the food activated his limbic system. Why more people don’t do this is beyond me. Plus we were going with the very real premise that Icelandic horses are food obsessed.
We quickly left Victoria’s and drove to our place. Victoria let Dustani and Andi out of her trailer, and I let Hrimmi out of the enclosure. I thought that the two young ones would immediately start to play, but they actually played it cool. Hrimmi was, well, somewhat coy. And Andi was diffident. They did touch noses a few times – I suspect that they’ll remain trail buddies, the way Tinni and Kolby used to be trail buddies, and the way Raudi and Hunar are trail buddies.
We brushed horses, and then went for a ride. I rode Tinni, Pete rode Signy, Victoria rode Dustani, and the little ones followed, Andi staying close to Dustani, and Hrimmi staying close to Signy. Tinni followed behind, just taking it all in. I suspected that he would have preferred to be left at home, where he’d get to hang out with Raudi and eat hay dregs.
We did a semi-lengthy ride on local trails – the young ones did race around some – Andi, who is black with a white tail, at times flipped it over his back. We managed, on the road portion of our ride, to stop traffic. Three adult horses and their riders, and two young horses, along with one dog, it must have been quite the sight.
Once back at home, we did a bit of obstacle work. This before Victoria loaded her horses back into her trailer.
The joke around here is that visiting horses like it so much that they’re always reluctant to leave. Andi definitely felt this way. We finally got him back into the trailer, using a butt rope and a lead rope. I felt terrible about this because I know it’s not training. Rather, its coercion. But Victoria will chunk things down soon enough, and Andi will learn what good, reliable trail horses need to know, which is that trailering is a means to an end. Usually, you get to go to fun places.
Pete and I took Raudi and Siggi out after Victoria left. We went around the loop and onto a trail of our own making. Going downhill, I had Raudi doing serpentines around trees and bushes. She did wonderfully, was focused, alert, and balanced. And on the way home, she trotted and cantered when asked.
I’m now reaping the rewards that come with having been attentive to Raudi’s every single move for the last nine years. I have to say, it has been worth all the time and energy I’ve put into it.
Next: 147: 5/27/13: Field of Dreams