It was another wonderful day with horses - hot, and and increasingly humid, but we all had a good day. Dawn and I started out the day with a lovely early morning ride in the outdoor. She got pretty sweaty and had a rinse off and a hand graze. Then it was Red's turn. He had to cope with a number of serious distractions. We tacked up in our barn aisle - he was by himself and called a few times but settled well. The barn aisle we're in sits under the large shed where shavings and hay are kept - then he had to cope with the tractor banging and scraping above his head as it collected shavings for delivery to the stalls. When we went into the arena, two men were working on the barn's electrical system - they was a tall ladder with a man going up and down, wires being pulled and laid on the ground and various noises. Then the tractor started delivering shavings to the various barn aisles off the arena - much banging and crashing, followed by a leaf blower being used to clear shavings and dust out of the aisles. And there were horses coming and going, and for most of our work session Red was alone in the arena.
We just did our work, and I did no ground work first - I just got on. Whenever he became distracted or worried, I just softly asked for his attention back. It took a while for him to settle, but we ended with some just lovely trot work, with a lot of softness and engagement, right in the middle of all that commotion - it was like we had our own quiet island. Red also got a rinse and hand graze, and coped much better with the wash stall than he had the last time we used it. Then I rode Pie. He did well with the new bit and was very forward. At one point he spooked a little - the type of spook where they splay their feet - and then he did what I call the "floppy fish" - you know the movement a fish out of water makes. Sometimes when he spooks he does this in reaction - it's not really bucking or crow hopping, but the feet and body sort of thrash around for a moment. We just kept right on working and he did well. It was very hot for him today - heat index in the upper 80sF when we were riding - so we kept our ride short, and he also got a rinse. Pie and I should be able to do some longer and more consistent work sessions over the next week as the weather cools down.
In the afternoon, Red got to go out with the gelding herd for the first time - it's been almost a year since he's been in herd turnout. I let Pie out first (I'd kept him in his stall after my ride for this purpose), since all the other horses were out of sight in the back pasture and I wanted Pie to show Red where to go. After Pie took off at a canter up the hill leading to the back, I let Red go. He started off in his big trot and then flagged his tail and galloped off after Pie. Another boarder and I walked back to check how the herd was doing - everyone was grazing peacefully and Red was right next to Pie. I wasn't at the barn at bring-in time, but I heard that Red led the herd in at a gallop with his tail flagged. It must have been beautiful - the boarder who told me said she'd wished she'd had her camera. Red seemed tired and happy this evening. Tomorrow we'll add an hour to his grazing time, and keep adding time until he's out full day.
Some of you may remember that this is the anniversary of my accident last year - this year the day was much better!