As advertised, Alex went on his very first field-trip this weekend to my aunt and uncle's farm in Indiana. My uncle is a team-roper and runs an indoor/outdoor on the farm geared mostly toward roping, barrel racing, ranch horse shows and team penning. So that means there's lots of cows/steers on the property. My aunt rides English, so there's also a separate outdoor arena for her :-)
I decided to lunge Alex at home, to expend a little bit of that TB energy, before my uncle came to us up on Saturday afternoon. He was very good on the lunge quickly relaxing and stretching down nicely. A little bit of that probably had to do with the heat (hottest day of the year here on Saturday), but we got a good twenty minutes in before a nice refreshing bath.
I have to admit that I was very anxious about whether Alex would get on the trailer without any problems, he was well traveled in his previous life, but it had been more than a year since he arrived in Kentucky, so I didn't know what to expect. Imagine my happiness when he just walked right onto the trailer without so much as a second look. Of course I was thrilled after I picked my jaw up off the floor. He did start pawing pretty ferociously, but once we started moving he rode well all the way to Indiana.
My next worry was that he'd get off the trailer and lose his freaking mind. There's a lot to look at on this farm including other horses and cows, which I am not sure he'd ever seen. When Alex gets wound up while being led around, he tends to stand up on his hind legs and/or bite me and dance around. He backed off the trailer like a pro, then took a big look around before dipping his head down to eat some grass. The only hitch was when a huge horse fly landed on his butt and he started circling me and bucking! Poor guy, he just seems to attract them :-(
In order to escape the blood thirsty pterodactyls, I took Alex into the barn and put him in a stall with a fan. He wasn't very happy about this, considering his stall at home has a stall guard and room to see out the back and this stall had neither. I managed to distract him with some hay while I unloaded our gear from the trailer.
The plan was to lunge Alex first and let him have a look around and then ride in the evening when the heat and the flies.
Alex behaved very well in the cross-ties, though he was definitely looking around anxiously.
|Seriously dude... what is that smell?|
Honestly though, he had reason to be looking around...look what was in the barn with him...
This was the run in for the steers and across the isle was a giant fan, so they spent a lot of time here out of the hot sun. Alex's stall was right on the other side of that wall (where the buckets were hanging) so he got a good dose of cattle!
After tacking up, I walked Alex down the hill to the outdoor, he was quite the fire-breathing dragon as he was looking around while we walked... I was waiting for him to go up on me at any moment, especially as we passed where my uncle was on the tractor with another guy in the cherry picker trimming trees. It didn't happen until we got into the arena. As I was attempting to shut the gate, he suddenly ripped his head side-ways and went up right in front of me... all I remember is front feet, very close to my head and thinking "oh wow... could have just lost my head." When he came down I punished him and then walked him to the middle of the arena. He hopped up one more time before I could get the side-reins clipped on properly, but then finally started moving around me on the lunge. (I made a mental note that next time I'd clip the side-reins on in the barn and walk him down with a chain over his nose). Actually, he was very good on the lunge, nothing more than some of his usual nonsense, a few bucks, hops, leaps and head shakes. Given his enthusiasm, I decided he was going to be lunged until he literally gave up and that is exactly what I did. Puffing and dripping, he finally stopped and looked at me as if to say "no more." Satisfied, I walked him back up to the barn for a bath before back to his stall for a break before our evening ride.
Unfortunately, our evening ride got rained out... Alex stayed in his stall pawing and giving the occasional call out to whomever might answer him, until the storms passed and then I put him out in a small paddock next to a group of ponies on one side and cows on the other. At home Alex has his own paddock and cannot touch noses with his neighbors, but here he had all kinds of access. He spent about 30 minutes arching his neck over the fence and smelling and squealing and pawing before I could tear myself away to go back to the house.
The next morning when I went out to bring Alex in and try to get him to eat some feed, it looked like he'd had a rough night of walking, pawing and carrying on with the ponies. Of course, he wouldn't really eat any feed, but was eating hay and drinking in between calling for his new loves, the ponies :-)
Finally, I tacked up again and took him down for lunging before our ride. The chain over his nose came in handy when I had to correct him one time, but otherwise, smooth sailing. After lunging Alex until he looked quite settled, I climbed into the saddle for our very first ride off the farm. Video is below!
With the exception of that one spook when there was a truck driving up the driveway, I thought he did really well!
After we finished, it was time to get back on the trailer (again not even a second look) and head home.
|Scary trailer (well apparently not)|
|"Let's get a move on!"|
Overall, I am SO PROUD of him. Things could have gone much worse, but other than a few little temper tantrums, he did very well. About the time he finally settled, it was time to leave, but I think the more we do this, the better he will get :-)