Two horse stories for the price of one

August 27th, 2006

Wendy and I went to the barn this morning for what we thought would be a quick trip. The horses had all spent the night in the pasture, so we thought we would put some feed in their stalls, bring them all in, wait for them to eat, then turn them all back into the pasture. On the way, though, Wendy’s phone rang. It was Genna. She’d been called by a neighbor of the barn to tell her that some of the horses had gotten loose. We got there, and as we drove past the pasture we could see that none of the 16 horses were in the pasture, and the gate was standing wide open.

When we got to the barn, we found horses wandering everywhere. Most of them were crowded around the feed room. They had eaten a bale of hay, and had broken open four bags of feed and eaten most of it. They had tracked loads of dirt out of the arena onto the walkways, they had tracked wood shavings out of their stalls onto the walks, and they had strewn hay everywhere. In short, they’d had themselves quite a wild party.

We gathered them up and got them into their stalls, and later put them all back out into the pasture. Needless to say, we didn’t feed them, except for Drew. He had been penned into the outdoor arena, and was the only horse not loose; because of that, he hadn’t eaten, and so we fed him. Then we spent the better part of about three hours cleaning up the mess.

It’s not clear how the gate got open. Wendy and I stopped by yesterday after buying my new shoes to fill up the water troughs. At that time, the gate was chained shut as it should be, and since we had no reason to open it, we’re sure we didn’t leave it open. Either one of Genna’s other clients came by to visit their horse, and didn’t get the gate secured, or someone came by to play a prank.

* * *

For the past three Fridays, Bryn and I have been taking lessons on how to exercise Laredo. We spend about fifteen minutes lunging the horse, and then Genna and Bryn get on him and ride for the remainder of the hour. I posted a short video showing the highlights of this past Friday’s session. After we were done Friday, Genna said to Wendy that we were ready to work Laredo unsupervised. We know how to tack him up, how to lunge him, and Genna said that if we could lunge him to exhaustion, then it would be OK for Bryn to get on him and ride.

This afternoon, we went in for our first solo session. After getting his tack on, we lunged him both to the right and to the left. Laredo’s funny about going to the left. For some reason, he hates it, and will try to reverse and go to the right. Part of this exercise is still training him, teaching him who’s boss. If we ask him to lunge to the left, then we have to be prepared to insist. Otherwise, he learns that he can get away with avoiding things he doesn’t like just by being stubborn. Fortunately, Laredo didn’t give us too much trouble to the left. He tried several times to turn around, but every time he tried that, I turned him around and made him go the other way.

We weren’t entirely sure how long “to exhaustion” would be. Genna had said half an hour should do. Turns out, we only got about twenty-five minutes out of Laredo. I started him off to the left, and worked him that way for about seven or eight minutes. Then we stopped him, turned him around, and Bryn lunged him to the right for another seven or eight minutes. Then she gave him a bit of a rest, and walked him around the arena. Then I took over again, and lunged him for another five minutes or so. We could tell he was getting tired when he wouldn’t keep up his trot, and kept dropping back to a walk. By the time we were through with him, he was soaked with sweat and blowing hard.

Then Bryn mounted up and rode beautifully. She took him around and around the arena. Although we thought he was pretty well worn out, Bryn had no problem keeping him in a lively trot. She later said he seemed real eager to go. Bryn looks real good on Laredo. She’s been riding a little over a year now, and really knows how to handle a horse.

One Response to “Two horse stories for the price of one”

  1. Lynda Says:

    I’ll never forget the day that a friend and I went up to the barn where he kept his two mares. It had been raining earlier, but we deemed it dry enough to put the horses out for a little exercise. We put them in the turnout pasture, which was fairly large – maybe 3-4 acres. Then we went back into the barn to do some chores. Little did we know that the gate on the other side of the pasture was wide open (why would we check such a thing?) We found out about it when a little girl came into the barn to ask us if we knew anything about the two horses wandering around in the neighborhood across the street. Sheesh! Of course, they thought that the nice green grass on the neighborhood lawns was much better than what was in the pasture. And we’d turned them out without halters.

    As you’ve probably learned, horse ownership is never boring. Great stories about Life with Laredo.