What a great horse weekend this was! Awesome rides, Takoda willing to try new things, my GF getting more acquainted with her horse, the barn is hustle bustle, lots of summertime magic going on...
Today was the first day I have taken Koda outside the shelter of the arena and round pen. He had been on trails in his prior life so I am not shaking in my boots nervous, just cautious. All these new experiences for him - new horses (still because several have left and new ones are now boarding), new sights, etc. We hung out in the arena with my GF and her horse for a bit and then I asked my other GF (also our instructor) to walk with us on the road, just down to the bridge (which is within view of the barn and after you cross it the road comes to a T) and back. I have never given a thought to bridges, especially bridges like this one. It isn't wooden it is paved and pretty low. A stream flows under it gently...
So when Tara explained that bridges are one of the freakiest things that horses must do, I was surprised. To me it is just part of the road. To him, she explained, the sides of the earth disappear, stuff looks different, there is no ground plus there is this weird water sound but (to him) no water under his feet. Plus it "sounds suspicious" - the change in beat from earth or pavement underfoot to the hollowness of a bridge. Wow. Interesting.
So, as we approached it a truck passed us from the front. He did quite well. I don't know if he has ever encountered traffic. I assume he must've because when I rode him before purchase part of it was on the road beside the farm. We got closer and his breath got more puffy. If you have ever heard a horse who is sort of nervous or suspicious they will sometimes "puff" their nostrils - like they are trying to smell for trouble. It can be quite noisy. LOL. Koda's was not incredibly noticeable but I could hear it and feel him tense up.
Just before the actual bridge he stopped dead, tilted his head from one side to the other like he was trying to figure out what the heck all this meant. We sat there for a few seconds and just talked casually. Tara said - don't push him, just let him know whatever he decides is fine...he doesn't have to cross it today, don't make it a fight. He took a few more steps and stopped dead again. More looking. Then, not suddenly, but more like a little "I really don't want to do this can we maybe go back?...." he shifted his weight and slightly turned his head to the left.
I said - OK, buddy we can go back. And let him turn around. We walked slowly back to the arena, stepped off the road onto the path that leads to the barn and walked through the driveway and to the hitching post.
Pretty damn good day. Earlier in the arena he had some moments of "but I don't wanna go that way" and mamma had to say "I know but you will go that way" - really that was all just his little bullheaded stuff he does. Then, when he truly WAS stressed mom gets to say - OK, buddy we'll take it slow. Does he know the difference? I think he does.
At any rate, we have tons of stuff to work on and learn and bridges are just a part of it. I am still amazed at the things that DON'T bother him more than the things that do. Today, while being a brat and trying to lick the last remaining bit of his neighbor's lunch out of their food bin while in the cross-ties, he managed to hit his head on a plastic muck rake hanging on the stall, knock it off the hanger and it nearly hit him in the head, clumped loudly on the floor in front of him and he barely blinked. LOL.
In Loving Memory
...of the first horse to hold my heart