Last night at bring-in time there were kids going down the sledding hill nearby, so I took Pie on the lead over that way. We didn't get that close - they were still about 50 yards away - but he did a lot of staring, and didn't seem too concerned about it.
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I'm not really sure what I was thinking trying to work with the horses this morning - by the time I got home the temperature was up to 17F (-8 C) with a wind chill of 9F (or -12C) - and trust me it was colder while we were working earlier. But I actually do know what I was thinking - we've got a storm coming Saturday night into Sunday with an arctic blast to follow - the type where the highs struggle to get above zeroF (or -17C) and the wind chills are as bad as -20F (or -28C). Not much opportunity for working with the horses in that type of weather, so I'm trying to squeeze in a few work sessions before I'm shut down for a while. This was not necessarily a good idea.
Today was one of those days where you make an attempt to do something, it doesn't go so well, and then you try it another way and maybe you manage to turn things around just a bit, at least enough to end on a good note. All the horses were super frisky this morning - lots of running and bucking at turnout - and Dawn and Pie were no exception. I thought I'd give Dawn a little bit of attention and do some ground driving - she was wearing her turnout blanket and that was OK. Only Pie had been turned out at that time, and all the other horses were still in the barn. We made it a little ways and then I got some head-shaking, scooting and small bucks. She was also calling. It was pretty clear nothing good was going to come of this as I'm not all that fond of out-of-control horses on the long lines - I've dealt with that before (with Lily) and can't say I've enjoyed it much although the horse and I survived. I also almost never work Dawn first thing in the morning and she may have been disturbed by the change in routine as well as excited by the cold. So I decided to abort our session and we successfully ground drove back to the barn, doing lots of turns to help her contain herself. I'm feeding this evening, so I may try another session with her then just to have a somewhat better result, and will likely use the cones set up in the arena to help her focus as we do patterns. (Update: this didn't happen - just too cold and it was snowing. Not fair to her or to me to try to work in these conditions.)
Then I got Pie out of turnout to work with him. He was much fussier than normal while I was tacking, and doing some young horse stuff like pawing. I got on, and he quickly told me he wasn't that interested in being cooperative - lots of head-shaking and wanting to veer towards the other horses, although fortunately nothing worse. We did one very short excursion up the trail, but he felt pretty bunched up underneath me, so we did some circles and serpentines on the field behind the barn. That wasn't going as well as I'd liked either - he still wanted to veer back towards the other horses and was still doing a lot of head-shaking to express his annoyance. We did manage to work our way onto the field a bit, and then I decided to try something a bit different. I took him back to the barn and took off his bridle (we were in the snaffle). We went for a short trail walk with me on foot, including some standing around work (where his only job is to stay out of my space - I don't care if he moves his feet). He was still distracted. I tied him briefly - there was some pawing and I untied him when he stopped.
I wanted to end on a somewhat better note with our mounted work, so we went back into the barn and I got the sidepull out. I really didn't want him in the snaffle at this point if we were doing tight circles and turns and we haven't done that much work in the bridle. I put on the sidepull and we went to the arena - I thought the visual barrier between him and the other horses might help the veering, and I wanted to use the cones. This session went much better - all we did was walk patterns using the cones, going from cone to cone and doing small circles around them in various directions. He did do some head-shaking, but much less. We worked for about 10 minutes or so, and he finally relaxed a little bit. I was able to ride him on a loose rein and he was much more responsive and focussed. I considered moving up to trot, but considering his energy level and that I wanted to maintain his calm, decided to save that for another day.
When I turned him out, he went galloping off, shaking his head, to tell the other horses how badly he'd been mistreated!
Unfortunately, in our part of the world, with no indoor, we're getting to the part of the year where opportunities to work the horses become few and far between. Just part of life, I guess - the horses don't care too much so long as they have enough hay to eat.