I decided to try taking MerryLegs down to the river in the evening all by myself. No Ellen to give us moral support. I had no problem getting him to the street. As we were walking down the road, a couple cars went flying by. It bothered him, and he jumped a little. When I got to the head of the trail, he said he couldn’t enter the dark tunnel—made worse by a fallen tree from the storm last weekend.
While I was trying to talk him into it, I noticed another car heading our way. I recognized it, and knew it would slow down. In fact, I thought it might even stop—and it did. It was my friend, Candy, who used to lease a horse at our stables and ended up getting a job where I work. Well, she got a different job and leases a different horse at a different stables, so she hasn’t seen MerryLegs, yet.
The first horse she ever owned was a Palomino Morab, so of course she really thought MerryLegs was beautiful. As we talked at the side of the street, a few more cars passed. One time, he gave a pretty big spook, but I think that is because I wasn’t paying attention to him when the car passed. He calmed right down.
Candy left, and I went back to the head of the trail. He said there was no way he was going down there, now, because he was done for the day—and it looked scary because it was dark. More cars passed, but they didn’t bother him. Finally, he walked through the trail entrance and we marched down the trail. He was as good as could be.
At the bottom, I decided to try him on the river bank. The water below was muddy and there was a debris pile blocking the trail that looked funny. I didn’t plan to get him to the river’s edge, but he said he wasn’t even going to take one step down.
We went through a discussion with me trying to displace his weight and urge him forward. I got a step and clicked for it. It didn’t take much longer to get a second and third step, but then I started to slip in the mud. I had a picture of me face down in the mud, and realized we had gone far enough. I turned him around and headed towards home about 20 feet—then turned again to the river bank. I readily got a couple steps down, so I decided to go on home. He was a perfect gentleman and the way back up the hill.
I took Cole out for a fun, fast ride. Fast, because he was in a “mood.” He is fun to ride when the weather is cool.
When I got back, I decided to work with MerryLegs some more. He refused to come out of his stall. Sigh. I don’t know what that was about. When I did get him out, he refused to walk towards the barn exit that leads to the indoor arena. We struggled with that for about 5 minutes, and then I just gave up. I turned him around and took him ooout the other door that leads directly outside. We went the direction that he was so bad the day before, and he was perfect. I gave him lots of praise and some clicks, too. I put him in the outdoor arena to play while I did chores.
A while later, I brought him out and we went to the indoor arena—and he wouldn’t go in the door. Not again! It was light outside and dark inside. I think that was the problem. It took me several minutes to get him to cross the threshold, and then he was fine. We had a lovely lounging session—focusing and reinforcing on “whoa,” and since his “whoa” was good to begin with on the lounge line, this only made it better.
So, it was a day with mixed results. We will work through the trouble spots, and I’m sure he will come through in the end like a shining “Golden Orb.”