09.03.08: Twice Over

This weekend the weather has been absolutely gorgeous. I wish I had the confidence to believe this was the beginning of spring. I know better.
Since I didn't have the time to work with Storm yesterday, I made up for it today.
I finished up with the yard work this morning, and headed out to the pasture to get Storm.

He came over to me, and I knelt down on the ground and got the rope over his ears and managed to get the halter on him without getting up. That was a good accomplishment, I felt safe enough to be kneeling there, and he cooperated without too much effort to put the halter on from that position on the ground.
We headed down to the arena and found Nancy riding her horse there. I let Storm graze on the stubble of grass that was left in the wash before we headed into the arena to start our laps. We resumed the work that we started last week, focusing on short steps while maintaining speed and not covering a lot of ground. He fell into the rhythm right away. Storm seems to have the hang of the exercise, and I do not have to correct him too often. I have to focus on making sure our steps are short, and I hope I am adequately accomplishing the task, it is sometimes difficult to tell when he is walking right next to you like a giant gray wall. I quickly discovered that the whole back half of the arena was sopping wet. We both got thoroughly muddy on the first lap before I shortened our laps to cover only half the arena. Storm had a little trouble crossing the middle without the support of the fence on that side, but we worked through it.
He began the licking and chewing fairly quickly, though not as often as our prior session. I have discussed his strange jaw stretching and licking thing with several people, and most seem to be in agreement that somehow Storm must be stretching or doing some sort of self chiropractics. I don't discourage it, but I don't let him interrupt what we are doing in the process.
While I am in Florida I plan to have the woman that worked with us at Kirsten's clinic come do some body work on Storm. I hope that it will help him with his left side issues, and maybe she can clarify what is going on when he does the stretching jaw thing.
We worked for about 20 minutes or so before I headed up to the barn to work on getting some of the hair off of him. He is shedding like a chemo patient, and I feel bad for him on these warm days. He was almost sticky when I took him up to the barn, and I didn't really want to have him get sweaty from our work. I groomed him for more than half an hour, the hair was flying everywhere. We had a huge swath of the barn floor covered in gray hair. He looked only slightly better than when I started. At least I had some of the caked mud off of his belly and legs. He is shedding all over, legs, face, everywhere. I finally had enough, and turned him back out again, and headed in for lunch.
A bunch of people had come out to the barn to enjoy the lovely weather, and I decided to get Storm out and do some more work since the weather was being so accommodating. I headed out to the pasture, stopping to chat with Christina on the way by as she was scrubbing down all of the stuff that she keeps on her stall. I found Storm all the way in the back section of the pasture, wandering the fence line by himself. I stopped down by the second hay feeder in the upper area and waited to see what he would do. He finally turned and started to wander back up, stopping by a dead tree to sniff and explore for a little while. He ambled back up, and looked up when he came to the gate between the two pastures and looked at me with surprise, "Oh, you're here!"
I waited for him to see what he would do, and Chessie stepped closer and began to nose me and explore my carrot stick. Storm approached and stopped about 10 feet away, and waited. He pinned his ears and glared at Chessie, and she backed off a bit. He stood and looked at me as if asking what was next. I turned a bit to the side to see if that would entice him forward, and when he did not move, I stepped off to the side a bit. He stepped forward, and so I turned away from him, and he continued forward, so I turned and headed towards the gate. He shuffled along behind me, right at my shoulder to the gate. I knelt down and had to toss the rope over his neck to get him to fully drop his head for the halter. I slipped it on, and we headed out of the pasture back to the arena.
I headed down the hill, and stopped to let him graze for a little bit before we went into the arena to work. Storm decided the best place to go would be on the side of the hill above the little wash where the water collects at the bottom of the hill. I asked him to come with me to the arena, and he turned to come down the hill. All of the sudden I heard him grunt and felt him lunge forward behind me very quickly. I jumped trying to keep him from running me over. In my startled state, I was confused as to what happened, he didn't seem to spook, but had suddenly come forward with force. As I calmed down, I realized that he must have decided to jump the wash, rather than step down into it. His size would have made that easier anyway, so it is understandable. It just startled me when it happened.
Vinny brought Piper down to the arena and joined us as Storm and I did our laps. He fell into the rhythm quickly, and did better when we turned away from the fence to avoid the sopping end of the arena. He licked and chewed a couple times more, and I finally decided to head up and do a little bit more grooming before I put him away again. Christina was chilling out at the picnic table, so I went and grabbed my brush and she and I chatted while she was working on her computer. I finally gave up on the hair again and we chilled out in the comfortable afternoon. Jim wandered down from the house, and then Vinny and Piper came back from their walk out on the trails, and we all sat around and relaxed for a while. Jim finally took Storm and put him away, where he hung out at the gate with the other horses.
It was productive, and I was pleased that Storm chose to come to me, and with me, the second time I came out to catch him. At least I know that the first session wasn't so bad that he didn't want to find out what I had in store a second time!
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09.03.21: Straightness