I turned my horses out while we were doing stalls, and Sugar's owner turned out Sugar and Misty, as well as Fred and Fritz. Many of the horses were crazed. Maisie bolted from the gate when I let her go, and ran to the round bale. Then she saw something outside the pasture that she thought was spooky, and proceeded to run loops around the pasture, with her tail flagged - if it hadn't been for the tailflap on her blanket, I think her tail would have been straight up! In all the years I've had Maisie, no matter how crazed she's been, I've never seen her flag her tail - I guess today was special.
Sugar's owner took out Sugar and Misty, and when she let Sugar into the pasture, Sugar did an all-four-feet-off-the-ground flying leap through the gate opening - I wish I'd had a photo - but at least didn't run into her owner in the process. I took Misty and moved her back from the gate area so Sugar's owner could work this through. We're very careful to maintain Sugar's leading training, as she came to us a number of years ago with some very dangerous leading behaviors that were partly fear-based. She's been very good for the most part since her retraining, but we make sure she never looses ground by being very particular about how she leads. So Sugar had to go through the gate probably 10 times, interspersed with some standing around and head-down work, before she held it together sufficiently to count as a success. When her owner let her go, she galloped off bucking.
Dawn, on the other hand was very good at turnout - she even walked from the gate, and when I brought her back in, she was well-behaved even though Noble was galloping down the fence line next to us. But we did have to have a conversation about a manners issue. While I was filling water tanks, I noticed that Dawn's neck cover had come partially loose and her blanket had shifted somewhat to one side. Since I was just standing there watching the tank fill, I went out to adjust her blanket. She doesn't like this, and so when I tried, she would pin her ears and move away from me - I didn't appreciate this. So I walked back to the gate, got her halter, haltered her and adjusted the blanket, no problems. I took her halter and started to walk away. I could see her shadow on the snow, lunging in my general direction. I think she was actually going after Misty, but Dawn has been known to look sweet when you're facing her and then pin and even make biting gestures behind your back, without making contact - she can be a little sly about this. But even if she was only going for Misty, I didn't appreciate that when I was so close - I don't care about horse-on-horse aggression when I'm not in the vicinity, but if I'm leading a horse or among the loose horses I don't tolerate it. The job of all my horses is to stay out of my personal space unless I approach or invite them in, to not show aggression to or crowd a horse I have on the lead, and to take account of where I am at all times.
So when I saw the moving shadow, I immediately turned around and took the lead and swung it to have Dawn move away at my direction. We did this around the round bale a couple of times - she was very annoyed and did a bunch of kickouts, until I moved her away from the bale and kept her there for a moment. Then I let her go back to the bale, and approached and gave her a face rub to let her know we were on good terms again.
Noble was very eager to get out, and very full of himself. When I let him go, he galloped from the gate at a pretty good clip for an old guy, doing some nice lead changes on the way. When he was younger, up until his mid-20s, he was probably the fastest horse at the barn and loved to gallop. He's slowed down a little but he's still pretty spry. He continued cantering around a bit, herding Fred and kicking up his heels a little from time to time. It's great to see him feeling good again!
After we were done with stalls, we brought the horses back in. After lunch, I'll go back and give them a little more turnout - by then the wind chills might be above zero.
Have a wonderful Sunday, and may it include horses!