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April 18, 2013: Just Another day at the Okay Corral

You probably all saw it happening, me becoming a bit smug about my abilities as a horse trainer. It could have been the nicer weather. It could have been my having gotten TTeam practitioner status. It could have been a run of good horse training luck. Whatever the reason, I now suspect that it was time for me to be taken down a notch.

Yesterday, after working with Mr. Siggi, I was even more smug. I’d ridden him using the neck rein and wand – I didn’t touch the reins. I ponied Raudi at the same time. He only occasionally veered to the right.

Rainbow guards the Okay Corral

I was later reminded that I’m just a mere mortal, and as such cannot expect to fully understand how, what, when, where, or why a horse thinks the way it does. This, by Raudi and Signy, who foresaw that they needed to put me in my place. Had I been more attentive from the get-go, this would not have happened. I noticed that when I took Raudi out of the enclosure that she was not listening as well as she ought, but gave this no mined. And I noticed that when I ponied her that she was inattentive, and lollygagish, but I paid this no mind.

I took the pair down Murphy Road. It was 2 p.m. I planned to ride Signy and pony Raudi to Ridge Runner, hop off there, then ride Raudi and pony Signy home. This way, Raudi would remain more forward. The phrase, the best plans are laid astray turned out to be a truism. Raudi, ears forward, alerted me to the fact that there was something by the side of the road that ought not be by the side of the road. That something was a white trailer, a red pickup, a snowmobile trailer, and a snowmobile ramp. There were shadows. And the partially snow covered ramp glinted in the sunlight.

Raudi then spooked, taking me unaware. I dropped her lead, and one of Signy’s reins. Raudi spun around and bolted, with Signy following suit. I fumbled with the reins, and eventually got Signy to trot, walk, and whoa. I got off Signy and called to Raudi, who had stopped. She came over to me. I was determined to get past the trailer and on with our day, which was why I led both horses back in the direction of the road obstruction. It was the same place we were previously, approximately 25 yards distant from IT, both horses again spooked. I could not hang on to both, so I let go of lead and reins. This time, both horses ran all the way home. I followed, cursing loudly.

To say I was pissed is an understatement. I was livid. And I was no less pissed when I came home and found two contrite Icelandic horses standing in the driveway. I then acted upon a new plan, which was to put Signy away, and take Raudi back to where the trailer was. This was perhaps a questionable judgment call – some might say that my taking another horse along would make Raudi less nervous. But my take on the matter was that I’d rather work with one rather than two fractious horses. So off we went, down road.

Raudi let it be known that the trailer was still there by chuffing loudly. I then did what any sane horse person would do – I got off of her and attempted to walk her past the trailer. Fortunately, I had a handful of grain in my pocket. I put my hand low to the ground, and had her eat from there, repeatedly. I also stroked her legs with the wand. And I did serpentines between head lowering sessions.

When, finally, we were beside the trailer, I said “touch” and had Raudi her nose on the trailer, truck, and second trailer. My taking her back and forth both on the ground and in the saddle was after, a moot point because in her mind, it was now just like those things we have in our yard. I would have liked to see her contrite, but this is not an emotion horses possess. Raudi and I continued on our ride, and together we worked on walk, trot, and canter transitions, with bits of tolt thrown in for good measure.

I returned home and got Tinni and Signy out. I then rode Tinni and ponied Signy around the loop. Hrimmi, of course, came with. I next took Signy and Hrimmi out. I’d planned on just going around the loop, but once we came to the intersection I decided to keep going. Why not? It was still sunny, warm. We soon came to the trailer – Signy, seeing it, began dancing around. I felt secure in my seat, so I did not get off. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hrimmi (who had fallen behind) race past us. Signy, seeing her baby pass the trailer, then decided that it was okay to do so herself. As with Raudi, I had Signy do gait transitions both down the road and back home.

I arrived home at 7 p.m. It took me all this time to get Siggi, Raudi, Tinni, Signy, and Hrimmi exercised. I had hoped to finish at 4 p.m. No matter, everyone got their requisite workout. Mission accomplished. Today I feel like anything but a co-learner. I am humbled in the presence of my horses, who remain my best teachers.

Next: 109. 4/19/13: Snow Melt