Secondly, Opie went on his first field trip yesterday. It was...a mixed bag.
I convinced BM to go to the park with me on one of the three nice days we're getting this week before the return of snow and winter and gross. I wanted Opie to go with a friend for the first time to give him a confidence building experience. Also I didn't want to listen to him scream the whole time. One of those things may have factored in more than the other, judge as you will.
|casual side eye while sporting fresh blu-kote on his hip|
After last week's super successful trailer loading, I was feeling pretty confident we'd have a relatively smooth trip to and from the park. False.
We got Opie's pasture mate and sacrificial trail buddy loaded up first on the driver's side as he's quite a bit bigger. Opie took a hot minute to think about getting on before calmly following me up. He then immediately flew the fuck right back out for no discernible reason, bashing his hip on the divider on his way out. Rinse and repeat half a dozen times while we tried to lure him to stay in with cookies and grain, but every time someone so much as twitched in his periphery, he was violently outta there. He even snapped the chin buckle on his halter cleanly in half while yanking the lead rope out of my hands.
We finally took Mo out and put him away because while the poor dude was trying his hardest to be good, you could tell Opie was understandably setting him on edge and it made no sense to melt his brain. While BM led Mo back into the barn, I took Opie over to the driver's side and asked him to follow me up--which he did, and then stood there trembling but on a slack lead as I stuffed snacks into his face. BM walked back out and was like, "Uhh...?" I dunno, BM.
Another barn mate pulled in, scooted past the trailer ninja style, restocked my cookie supply for me, and then BM went to work on latching the butt bar behind Opie. She strolled around the parking lot behind him for awhile before working her way up to the ramp and silently dropping the pin in. Opie still seemed on edge, but hadn't made any sign of wanting to vacate the facility so she quickly brought Mo back out and got him (grudgingly) back on the trailer.
|i'm skeptical of you sometimes too, dopie.|
We were both on edge about getting them off, but they'd ridden quietly over and didn't seem at all frantic once we parked. Helmets and gloves on, I unclipped both horses at once while BM stealth mode dropped the ramp and butt bars. Opie stayed quiet so she was able to come up and grab Mo while I backed Opie off without much more drama than our practice runs. Phew!
Opie tried to drag me around a bit once off instead of grazing, but he seemed most interested in trying to steal treats out of the dressing room while I got him tacked up. At my "mounting block" (ghetto step stool), he walked away as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup. I simply hopped down, led him back around, and he was like, "Oh, right. This is like at home. I stand while you get on and I get the cookie." This was something I was curious to see how it would play out off property so it's good to know cookies still carry weight.
From there, we set out across the road and into the woods. Opie immediately took the lead. He doesn't get upset when he has to follow, he just has such a naturally huge, swinging walk that he usually ends up out front. Fortunately, he loves adventure time and willingly marched on.
|about that bulging mid-neck even with a long rein. |
the struggle is constant.
He was hesitant about going downhill, but with minimal encouragement he was careful about walking down. He wanted to trot or canter up the hills, but listened and kept it to the walk every time. Both things more experience will help with. We're not exactly rolling in terrain at the barn.
He did need Momo's lead over surface changes. He did okay for the first road crossings with the lines on the road as he'd previously trail ridden on those, but with the unlined black asphalt, he needed Mo--who was having his own conundrum being dumb-struck by a kid on a swing. Or just being dumb, jury's out. He also needed leads over a bridge and was a little worried about the weird noise, over a water run-off that he adorably very closely watched where and how Mo trundled across and then copied him exactly, and into the water though he followed perfectly willingly and tried to have an unauthorized swim.
|he should be way over towards the bridge like mo as the|
water drops off pretty steeply directly to our left
He didn't care about bikes, a crane surrounded by work trucks and people climbing everywhere (you can kind of see it in the background above), car traffic, or pedestrians. He did care about two St Bernards we saw in the distance, and it was the only time I thought he might try something stupid. I've passed these dogs a couple times before with Bobby and they're super quiet and well behaved with very conscientious owners, but they do kind of look like strange ponies. He got tense and tried to break into the trot a couple times, but he came right back every time I asked and kept it to a little jig step here and there until they were out of sight.
Mo, meanwhile, was behind us losing his shit though not necessarily because of the dogs. He was pretty sure this was the stupidest hunter pace he'd ever been on and could the walking please be over with now. Opie never fed off of him though which I love as all my other horses could turn into serious assholes when someone else went off.
Opie saw a building off in the distance as we were crossing a field and called out a couple times. We joked he forgot Mo was behind him, but he was obsessively looking at it like he thought it was a barn. It was also super windy and we were walking in the direction of the big show barn further down the road so maybe he caught a whiff of horses and was sending out an S.O.S.--Save Opie Srsly.
I couldn't find my regular lead rope in the mess of throwing everything in my dressing room to get the fuck out of the barn parking lot before a certain someone realized he was locked in for good, and since the chin clip on his halter was broken I had to have BM hold him while wrapping him to go home. He was fine to graze next to Mo as long as I was next to him as well, but every time I walked away he'd stop grazing and stare after me. It was noble and majestic staring, but when I took my phone out he gave me the above pose. I'm glad he was looking to me though. I want him to consider me an acceptable substitute to his horse friends as I'm the only thing he's going to get at shows.
|i judge your friend on the daily, dopes.|
Getting them back on the trailer, we loaded Mo on the passenger side first then again had to wait a minute before Opie decided he would follow me up. Once on though, he gave no signs of drama and I shoveled handfuls of grain into both boys while BM lightning speed locked them in. Unloading back at the barn, he walked off cool as a cucumber. I guess the passenger side of the trailer is just a no-go, though there's going to be lots more repetition about loading on the driver's side regardless. I absolutely cannot have a horse I can't get on and off by myself, and our first show is in May.
Minus the trailering, I was really happy with his first outing. He got to go for a trip with his friend, did a relatively relaxing (though there was much teeth grinding and sucking on his tongue in times of stress--more on that in another post) yet engaging ride with no drama or fights or bad things happening, then got to come home. Hopefully with lots of that on repeat he'll get better about the trailering. Of course now I have to convince BM she doesn't hate us both and that coming for trail rides with us is so fun. Three more hours down for our trail riding goal, twenty left to go!