Poor Pie! Yesterday morning when attempting to greet a mare in the adjacent pasture, Pie got his nose zapped by the electric tape that tops the four-board fence. I'm not sure he's ever encountered an electric fence before - he leapt backwards and ran off shaking his head, and was alarmed, snorting and upset for several minutes. And then in the afternoon, I was taking pictures of him wearing his new sidepull when the flash went off - he was extremely alarmed and bolted backwards - poor boy - too many new scary things in one day.
I didn't get a lot done yesterday; both horses were somewhat worried. Pie and I did get a bit done, though. The first thing that clued me in to his nervousness was that he tried to move off from the mounting block - back to his friends (he was probably thinking "at least they don't zap or flash bright lights at me") when I was half on. Pie stands very well for mounting, so this wasn't normal for him - he was very distracted. We did a tiny trail excursion, not out of sight of the barn, and I got a lot of reluctance and wanting to turn back, and a tiny bit of head shaking, but that was all - he did what I asked but I didn't want to push my luck.
So I took him in the arena and we did a bunch of small circles and serpentines at the walk to help him relax a bit - no trotting today. He direct reins well. We did some backing - he does this pretty softly already in the sidepull, and we started doing some softening work at the walk. I found that he got the idea of this better on the turns than when we were traveling in a straight line. I managed to get a step or two of "giving" at a time, and the lower head position also helped his nervousness.
When we were done, after I untacked I tied him in the arena with a hay bag - some work on being away from his buddies and on patience seemed in order. He started out by moving around a lot and doing a lot of pawing, but after a while he settled down nicely.
I got Dawn ready with the sidepull - her head from "bit to "bit" across the top is exactly the same as Pie's, so I didn't have to adjust that, although her head's not as deep from face to jowl as his is, so the settings on the jowl strap and chin strap were different - in fact I think the chin strap was too loose. I'm going to call the manufacturer after checking their web site first for fitting information - I'm curious how tight the chin strap is supposed to be, and with Pie, his cheekbone placement - the end of his cheekbone was running into the cross strap connecting the noseband to the cheekpiece - meant that I had the noseband a bit too low, I think.
I popped on Dawn bareback. She was hyper-alert and not really "with me". We did some turns and serpentines on the field behind the barn, which is next to the arena. Somewhere nearby, there was this awful noise - it sounded like a loud, sick mechanical goose (our barn lady thought it might be someone working on a motorcycle) - it was loud, occasional and very alarming to Dawn (Pie didn't care about it). At one point she was ready to bolt - all four feet came off the ground and she gave a rapid, hard, shaking of the head from side to side. She didn't make any forward progress since I asked her to stop, and we did a few more minutes of serpentines before I got off. Not much good was going to get accomplished there, although I was pleased to stay on and keep her under control with her antics.
Pie's developed a hock sore on one side - the only thing I don't like about our bedding is the little wood pellets are pretty hard before they soften up with moisture - I had to add some extra well-soaked pellets to his stall so the bedding would be softer, and I've had some luck putting ointment on the sore just before I leave the barn to protect it a bit. I've been looking at hock boots on line, but most of the reviews seem to give them poor ratings for durability and fit. If anyone out there has had good or bad experiences with hock boots, or other advice on treating/preventing hock sores, please let me know, and be sure to add your comments and thoughts to yesterday's bitless post.