14.06.17: Right to Work

Spring has left the building and summer is here. NOW. It came in abruptly this week with temps in the high 80's pushing 90's and humidity to match. I decided that mornings are going to be the best time to work Storm, and was pleased to find that at that hour of the morning the round pen is in almost complete shade. With the near constant breezes of the farm it made it tolerable to work him. As soon as I headed out the barn door and not towards the pasture, he got a bit antsy. We headed to the round pen anyway. I ignored the behavior and continued to ask him to do what was completely normal. He was licking and chewing a lot, but that was accompanied by the drool that is common this time of year from the clover. Even if he's licking and chewing due to the clover slobber, I'll take it as a good sign. I put his bridle on, managing to end up getting drool on me from his dripping mouth. As I began to clip on the long reins he got a bit antsy and wouldn't stand still. I was torn between stopping and walking him or simply ignoring the behavior and putting him on the long lines anyway. I opted for the latter option, and it turned out to be a good decision.
We settled right to work, moving to the right which was his more challenging direction. He got right to business and started behind the bit, but quickly began to try to find his balance. He was heavy, but not as heavy as he had been during out lesson. I don't think it was the fact that we had worked before as much as it was the fact that we finished going to the right last time, and I had already been working for a long time, and so my arm was already fatigued when we changed direction and that made his heaviness seem all that much heavier. He struggled and wobbled a lot, but began stretching down with his nose, which was a great sign. He was wobbling, but overall he was still very stuck on that side. I had to make very few large adjustments in the rein contact. Primarily I focused on simply keeping him straight and allowing him to stretch and do what he needed to do to find his balance. I was pleased with the changes overall, and noticed that the feeling of tension and worry was fading as he worked. He was skeptical about a car in the distance that stopped, but did not do anything other than pick his head up and look as we worked. I simply asked him to keep on working.
We switched to the left, and I found much of the same pattern that I had in my lesson - he was much more inconsistent in this direction, needing many more corrections to keep him on track with the correct amount of contact on the inside rein. I was almost constantly picking up or letting out the tension in the outside rein to help him find his balance. He worked hard in the short amount of time that I had available, and I was pleased with the changes that he made as we worked.
I was on a tight schedule so we only worked for about an hour, and spent a little more time on the right than the left. We finished up and I took off the bridle and reins and brought him back into the barn yard for a hose down in prep for the high temps of the day. He was quiet and patient while I rinsed him down good. Since he was a bit worked up when we started, I was expecting that he might want to bolt away when I turned him loose. The horses were all hanging out close to the barn, so he had less incentive to head off in a hurry. I took him to the water rather than leave him by the gate for a change of pace, and he happily ambled out towards the grass after I took his halter off. I look forward to making more progress!
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