14.08.18: Having a Fit

Just when it seems like going forward is a great thing, things regress! Mom and Dad were visiting, so I decided to get Storm out and play for a while. It was a day of nice weather, and it was supposed to start raining the next day and I knew I'd have more time on Monday. I got him out of the pasture, and we went into the barn to get our things. He was acting a little uptight about everything, and I just calmly asked him to do what he normally does. We headed to the round pen, and I knew I'd need to start with backing up to get him focused. We got to the round pen and started into backing up right away, and I quickly found out that he was not stable at all. He was over reacting about EVERYTHING. The breeze was blowing, and things were moving, and the bobcat was sitting next to the shed and hadn't been there before. Every little thing was an excuse for Storm to try to lose his mind. The bobcat became the biggest obstacle, he could not back up with it behind him. I continued to work ignoring the fact that the bobcat was there, and asked him to simply do what he had always done in the round pen. We kept working, and he was still very unsettled. Each lap we would approach the bobcat, and he would get so worried and attempt to spin around to face it, swinging his hind end away from the fence. Each lap I simply asked him to step back over to stay on the rail and kept asking him to back up. Lap after lap we worked, and every so slowly he managed to settle down a fraction. It took entirely longer than it should have, and when he had finally made some progress, we changed directions. The bobcat was not as much of a worry in this direction, though it was still a challenge. Again, we worked, lap after lap until he began to try a little harder to settle down. I was getting exhausted from asking him to back up over and over again, and really fighting to stay focused through all of his antics. He finally calmed down well enough that I decided to switch and go back in the direction we had come from originally to ensure that he was really calm. Again, he was very worried about the bobcat as we backed up. We stuck with it through several more laps until he really put some effort into making a change again.
Finally I put the long lines on him even though he wasn't as calm and settled as I wanted him to be. He was working, though was very worried about everything going on around him. I just kept plugging away and asking him to do what he should be doing. The breeze kept blowing, the bobcat was still sitting there, and now a couple trucks drove by and a big truck was parked out on the road and they were making noise in the redneck's shop. A day conspiring against horses, and Storm was holding himself together fairly well. He never spooked badly or bolted, but he was just not settled the entire time. It was exhausting working with him, but I didn't want to stop until he had made at least a few changes. We kept working away on the long lines, and he kept being fussy. He never blew up, and so I figured I might as well try to work it out of him. I asked him to step up into a trot and we worked at a trot for a while. I was working the long lines as fast as I could to ask him to maintain his balance, and he put quite a bit of effort into it. I was pleased that he didn't decide to rocket off and bolt away, I'm not sure if he had really put a lot of energy into it if I would have been able to hold him. He trotted and I kept asking him to move out if he slowed down, and I kept asking him to rebalance. I could tell it was really hard, but he kept trying despite being very distracted and wanting to focus every where else. We finally slowed down to a walk again, and got some nice steps, but he went right back to being worried about everything else. We changed directions somewhere along the way, with much of the same result. He was putting effort into it, and had good moments, but they were fleeting between the struggle of everything else.
We finally called it quits and headed back to the barn. I decided not to clean his feet, and we just put everything away and turned him out. I felt that he was probably going to try to bolt, so I decided that we would walk out into the pasture so he didn't have a chance to bolt away. I walked backwards for my own safety because I didn't completely trust him walking next to him. The herd started to walk up, so we didn't have to go all that far. I defended our space and kept the other horses away while I turned him around and then took the halter off. He spun and squealed, but didn't bolt any further since the whole herd was right there. I was relieved that it was over, since it was a pretty stressful situation.
The farrier was due in on Tuesday morning, and so this was a last ditch effort to make sure that he was nice and calm when Keith arrived. Tuesday came and he did very well, we hung out in his stall until Keith got there, I groomed him over pretty good, and he stayed calm while I was working with him. He gave Keith a little trouble in the beginning but settled down after that. I was grateful since I didn't want to have to fight with him through all four feet. Keith would have lost his patience, and I didn't want to have to go there.
Come to find out much later, Monday was just a bad horse day. I found out that several other friends had trouble with their horses that day. There was a front that moved in on Tuesday morning, and I can only wonder if the pending change in weather was affecting all of them. At least I know it wasn't likely anything I did or didn't do. That makes the bitter pill a little easier to swallow.
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