Dorothy, Where’s Toto?

I could not believe how windy it was today.  The topography at my barn is such that if it’s a little breezy at my house, it’s a typhoon at the barn.  Well, today, it was a typhoon at my house, so you can only imagine what it was like at the barn.  Needless to say, all of the horses were enjoying the cooler temperatures.

I went to go get PJ from his field and the sacrifice paddock was opened to two large pastures and that’s where he was – all the way at the bottom of the hill.  I grab his lead rope and headed out to get him.  Just as I get to the passage between the fields I heard pounding hooves behind me.  Two horses who had originally stayed up top decided to join their friends and were galloping towards me.  I quickly got out of their way and then followed them into the grass.  But their antics started a frenzy in the rest of the herd.  I jumped onto the fence and watched the fun.  There was bucking and running and rearing at each other.  And, of course, PJ was in the middle of it all.  He was such an instigator – he went from horse to horse to try to get them to play.  I was rethinking my plans to ride. Eventually, they all calmed down, and once I was sure they weren’t going to pick their heads out of the grass, I got PJ.

We made it to the barn without incident.  But in the barn, the leaves were rolling off the roof, the wind was banging the doors, the mirrors in the indoor were shimmering.  It sounded like the barn would take off at any minute.  PJ was a little nervous but not bad. However, he didn’t grow up in an indoor, so I wasn’t sure how he would react to being closed up with all of the noise.  I decided not to ride and instead to walk him around.  Now that it was cooler I figured he would be in his turn-out sheet from now on, so he could stay clean.  I hosed him off, probably for the last time until spring (or until we got hot water) and put a cooler on him.  Then I took him into to the indoor to walk him around. He was pretty good.  I asked him to do some stretches I had read about in one of the dressage magazines.  As soon as I pulled out the treats he forgot about the risk of the barn roof coming off.  I decided to get on him.

But I really wasn’t in the mood to drive, drive, drive, so I focused on precise work.  We just walked but worked on turn-on-the-forehand and turn-on-the-haunches and leg yield.  He had trouble doing the turn-on-the-forehand off my right leg.  He was getting a little upset, so I got off and used the butt of my whip.  It allowed me to be more precise with my aid, and more importantly, the release of my aid.  He got it, so I got back on and tried again.  It worked much better and we quit with that.  And best of all – he didn’t bat an eye at all of the noise of the wind against the indoor.

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