10.11.07: Workin' Up a Sweat

After a terrific session with Jeffra doing body work in the morning, I headed out to get Storm in the afternoon. It was breezy and cool, but the sun was warm, and I laid his bridle out on the picnic table before I headed to get him in the hope that the sun would warm up the chilly metal a little better. I had to fetch him out of the hay bale, and headed back up to the barn to put his bridle on.
I dropped the long reins off at the arena fence and the closer we got to the round pen the more freaked out Storm got. I quickly discovered that there was a small herd of deer behind the round pen grazing. They didn't startle as we approached but idly glanced up at us and continued to browse on the brush. Storm got a little spooky as we attempted to get into the gate, but I was able to manage him and get the gate shut. That had me worried that he was going to bolt off when he felt me take off the lead rope, but to my relief he waited calmly as I hung it over the rail, and turned to the center. He turned and followed me, and waited facing me, which happened to be facing the direction of the deer. I gently asked him to move off to the left, and and he headed off at a walk. I set right into work and gently asked him to trot, to which he responded by blasting off fueled by adrenaline. He ran and ran and ran, and each time he passed by the side of the round pen closest to the deer he would cut inward and express his displeasure at the saber toothed deer lurking in the woods.
I kept a pretty sharp eye on the deer and Storm on the scary side of the round pen, and saw several does and two bucks. One buck probably had more than 6 points, and the other was a bit smaller. I quickly noticed that the smaller buck seemed to be limping and realized that his left front leg was dangling bent up and useless. He was hobbling through the brush awkwardly, but it was also obvious that his injury wasn't fresh. He was bright eyed, and alert, and was hobbling around through the brush as best he could manage, though he was definitely struggling.
Storm continued to careen around the round pen, and I began to notice that something was falling off of the underside of his neck. I finally realized that it was sweat from all the anxiety that he was struggling with. His impression of a giraffe waffled between trot and canter until finally he managed to slow down. I allowed him a few walking steps, and then asked him to step back up into the trot. And that sent him careening off again. Despite running around doing his giraffe impression, he continued to lick and chew frequently as I would ask him to move up into the trot when he would finally break down into the walk. Ever so slowly he began to come down off the adrenaline and began to work on shifting his weight back and getting into the correct position. When he got it, it was beautiful, but he spent quite a bit more time out of it than in it. I tossed in some canter transitions when he was having trouble maintaining the trot. He finally settled down, so I stopped him and asked him to change directions. He moved off in the correct direction without too much fuss, which made me happy. We had to repeat the process of settling down again, and he was able to get a little bit more work done. Once he was finally showing some really positive changes, I asked him to stop, and we began to work on him following my cues of jogging and then cantering. I still have trouble getting all my cues in the right order, which isn't going to help him any, but we were getting the hang of it. I paid really close attention to him to make sure that he wasn't going to spook or startle and head into my path.
When I was finally sufficiently worn out, we stopped and at that point I knew that I wasn't going to attempt to work on the long lines with him in the state he was in. He was much better, but I knew that he still wasn't completely calm. I decided that it was time to call it quits since he was fairly well drenched in sweat. I grabbed the lead rope and clipped it back on, but apparently I missed the latch when I twisted the barrel, and just after we got out of the round pen, the lead rope fell off. By that time I had already started the walking backwards routine since he was a bit squirrly. I grabbed the loop on his halter and reattached it as quickly as I could to make sure that nothing goofy happened. I walked backwards all the way up to the barn. He tried turning sideways and twisting around, and attempted to spook twice, but I was able to shut him down. I am sure that a large part of that was due to the fact that he was already tired from all his prior running, but I was glad that he didn't get away from me.
I managed to get him into the barn without any problems, and then had to get a towel out of my tack trunk. I didn't want to tie him anywhere for fear of the trouble he'd get himself into. So I led him to the tack room door, and stretched the rope across the room. Every time he looked away from the door, I asked him to look back, and he took that to mean come into the tack room. That elicited some quick no, no, no, backup, and he would step back out again, his ears flipping under the top of the door jam. All I could see was him spooking in the doorway and slamming his head against the top of the door frame. I finally managed to toss the junk that someone had left on the top of my trunk out of the way, and grab a towel to rub him off with. It helped some, but not much, unfortunately. At that point I would have liked to leave him to graze for a while to dry off, but I figured the safest place was in the pasture where I didn't have to try to hang onto him if something scared him. I took him back to the hay feeder, and he laid down to roll right next to the feeder in the black dirt. That'll just mean it'll take more elbow grease the next time I get him out to work him.
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10.11.13: Paranoia and Distractions