It was a beautiful day after the rain showers cleared through. By mid-afternoon, we had a temperature of 58F, with bright sun - just amazing! When I went to get Maisie - she made me hike through the mud and water to the round bale to get her - Dawn was lying flat out in the hay sleeping. She rolled up into regular lying-down position as I got nearer, and I was able to walk up and rub her sleepy face and feed her a treat while she way still lying there.
Maisie and I were able to ride a bit. The arena is a soupy mess of ice, snow and water, and the trails aren't much better yet - there's a lot of ice and the areas without ice are very soggy, but we took a little ride anyway. As we picked our way along, we came to a point where there is a choice of which direction to go, and Maisie opted to turn away from the barn. She used to routinely do this on trail rides - I think to explore - but hasn't in a while. I guess she's tired of just hanging around in a muddy turnout. As we turned towards the barn, we had to walk in the street rather than on the trail, as it was too icy - we don't usually do this but she didn't mind. Our street is normally very quiet, and we met no cars. As we got near the barn, instead of heading there she opted to turn down the driveway to the organic farm. I can't remember the last time we've gone that way. She was very interested in all the things we saw, including some truck tires halfway embedded in the dirt that are part of a playground, an assortment of trash cans, greenhouses and other interesting things. She was looking around and a little bit snuff-a-whuffy, but very willing to walk forward and not spooking at all.
We came up to a large shed that is full of equipment and all sorts of farm stuff - the opening was in shadow and we couldn't see too far inside. She was intrigued (perhaps that's where I got her show name - Intrigue - from - she's often intrigued!), and we walked up closer. All of a sudden there was some clattering and crashing from inside the shed - she was on full alert as clearly there might be predators making those noises. But she stood her ground on a loose rein. I called out to ask the person inside the shed to say something, and he came out and did. This somewhat reassured her, but then the clattering and crashing resumed. Although she still stood there, it was that tense stance that's often a prelude to a spin and quick exit. I kept my reins completely loose - tightening up on the reins when a horse is nervous usually isn't a great idea, in my experience - and took a handful of mane in my left hand, just in case there was a spin coming - I can usually ride a spin just fine without mane, but it never hurts to have a little more stability. Then we did a move I call the pre-emptive circle - actually until I wrote this post I've never called it anything, just done it. Keeping my left rein completely loose, I used a right opening rein to ask her to circle to the right, and even though she would have preferred at this point to leave, we circled in a small (but not excessively tight) circle a couple of times until we were facing back towards the shed again and she stopped. We stood there for a bit on a loose rein (all those standing-around exercises really help with this), and then repeated the circle, and stood again. She was calmer at this point, so I turned her and we walked away about 50 yards. Then we turned back towards the shed and approached it again. She stood for a bit, not as worried, and we turned around and walked on a loose rein back to the barn. My thinking in doing the pre-emptive circling is to get ahead of the spin and possible bolt before it happens by directing the horse's feet, so I'm making the choice and offering her some direction - sometimes turning the horse will initiate a bolt, so I'm prepared for that, but since I'm already circling, the bolt doesn't usually get too far. And doing the circling of course presupposes that there's a safe space to circle in.
I was delighted with her, both for choosing the paths she took, and for dealing so well with a scary situation.
Fred got some good gate work in with Sugar's owner at bring-in time. Scout had started the geldings to running - this is something he often does at bring-in time. Joe and Noble ran around a bit, then, being sensible older guys, stood to one side as Scout, Fred and Fritz madly raced around and rolled in the mud, getting all hot and tired. Sugar's owner left Fred to last, so he wouldn't have to worry about another horse on his tail. After a few tries through the gate - I told her to just let him go back and forth through it on his own while she stood to the side until he calmed down - he was able to walk through calmly. It probably helped that he was tired out!