13.09.15: Churn and Burn

Due to Kirsten’s flight schedule, she was able to come to the farm here in Fallston on Friday evening instead of us having to trailer down to Graham. It was much needed since we were stuck here at the farm, but still doing everything we were doing at Graham. I was relieved that everything came together to offer us the opportunity. Erin and I arranged to take a lesson together so that I would still have the 2 hours worth of time since Storm clearly needed it here.

We caught the horses and groomed them up for a while, which was a nice relaxing way to spend some time with both horses in the barn. They were calm and comfortable, which was a really lovely thing to see. When Kirsten got started with us she checked in to find out what we were interested in, and when we explained that we just wanted to start working here because the horses were so unsettled that we weren’t sure what to do. She immediately decided to work them at liberty together in the paddock. Ahh, going all the way back to our start five years ago…

Kristen explained to Erin how the game would work, and we took both horses into the paddock, and checked in to see how they were before turning them loose. They were calm, but looking around and it was obvious that if you had said Boo they would have been in the next county. When they chose not to connect with us, we sent them off together.

Storm took the lead, and they began racing around the paddock in a frenzy.  Belle quickly began looking to stop working and come in, but Kirsten identified pretty fast that it was an avoidance tactic and not a genuine connection that she was offering/seeking, so she got sent back out again. Storm figured out pretty quickly how to do laps, and I simply had to make sure that they pushed through the far end of the paddock and didn’t get stuck in the corner. He cantered lap after lap after lap, quickly becoming sweaty (which was a good thing!). Belle got to the point where she just couldn’t keep up, and was futilely trotting behind, having to be pushed to catch Storm and maintain her gait. She finally sought the connection that Kirsten was looking for, and so Kirsten allowed her to stand and rest. Storm on the other hand was still churning away.

Finally, after many laps, he began to slow and seek the connection, and eventually he, too, stopped his running and sought me out and connected in a tired and grateful way. I began to walk around with him, checking to make sure he was still connected no matter where I went in the paddock. He followed me with his nose close to my elbow as I walked all over, pausing here and there to reward him, and moving off and arcing towards his butt when he became disconnected.

We finally changed direction and sent them off again when they both became distracted. Belle just didn’t have it in her to keep running, and quickly sought the connection with Erin. Storm spent quite a bit more time at the canter lap after lap before he, too, settled again and sought me out. We gave them some time to rest and slow their breathing again before we haltered them, and began our walk to the arena. Nice and tired, they weren’t as likely to object as much as they could if they were full of energy. We made our way down the hill to the arena, and it didn’t take us more than about five minutes to get down there. They had a few stops and refocusing but mostly we were able to keep moving. We arrived, and focused for a bit, but then took the halters off again to allow them to explore and manage their emotions. Dianna has lots of jumps set up in the arena, so they were negotiating them, and moving around. Storm dodged all the jumps so he didn’t have to take them, and began another fit of running. He quickly settled again, but still had plenty of energy. Somehow my giant draft horse has turned himself into an Arabian. I teased Nancy that Julius rubbed off on him.

They were nice and calm, and so we finally made our way back up to the barn yard again, and gave them a bit of a wipe down since they were both crusty with sweat. Storm headed out and began pushing Belle around, as if he hadn’t expended enough energy in the two hours, 2/3 of it which was spent at a trot, and about half of that time at a canter!

Erin had more time on Sunday, so we got together and worked the horses again. I decided to put both of them into the paddock after I fed them in the morning so that they could settle and then we could get to work right away rather than catching them in the pasture and then getting to work. They never did settle into the paddock, and Storm spent most of the day pushing Belle around as they both nervously watched the herd in the pasture.

We were able to get straight to work, and it took us a while before we figured out how to manage the entire paddock with just Erin and I and the two horses loose. I finally blocked the middle of the paddock and the horses worked around Erin while she kept them moving through the far corner of the paddock, I kept them from crossing too far and going towards the gate. It worked out well, and both horses were sweaty after a while. It was good workout for them, but didn’t last near as long as it had on Friday. They were a bit worn out from fretting all day and weren’t as interested in running as long. I think it strengthened the bond and helped both of them find calm. Since they were so sweaty, and the sun was still strong we decided to hose them off rather than do any more work. Both of them were nice and calm while we rinsed them down getting the foamy sweat out of their coats. They both rolled right after we turned them out, and I happened to catch a photo of them both on their sides, as if they were both dead. I sent it to Kirsten for her amusement.

I look forward to continuing to work with Erin and Belle as we all settle into the farm and are able to progress back to where we were when we left Graham.

Next Page: 13.11.05: Work, Work, Work