We’re riding along; minding our own business when out of the corner of both mine and PJ’s eyes we see a strange sight: two horses running loose. It registered in PJ’s mind a split second before mine that that wasn’t supposed to be. We stopped and watched them trot down the path outside of the indoor. PJ started freaking out. There was a horse in his stall and he started freaking out. I had to make a decision: stay on and try to get PJ back to work or get off.
The argument for staying on was that I didn’t want to teach PJ that spooking got him out of work. I wanted him to learn that he needs to focus no matter what is going on around him. However, I didn’t know if the horses would enter the barn and then the indoor – they were heading in that direction. I thought it would definitely be safer getting off. But it wasn’t an easy decision because what I teach PJ in his early years will stay with him forever. In the end, safety trumped training and I hopped off.
I was glad I did because it took two golf carts, one person on foot with a bucket of grain, a pick-up truck, and 20 minutes to catch the runaways. I found out later that one of the horses was blind and would just follow the other horse wherever he went. I guess today he wanted to go exploring.
It was a lot of excitement for PJ. Once they were haltered, I got back on PJ and made him work. He spooked at every little noise and flash of light outside. But he’s generally a good guy and did what I asked. The bonus was that he was still so “up” that I didn’t have to worry about getting him to go forward with his withers up. Never a dull day!