Saturday I took the mares and Shimmer to a groundwork clinic in town. It was more about how to do the groundwork tests for North American Western Dressage, than training. And with where I left off last fall with Shimmer, I figured she'd be ready for this. I was wrong! She was so naughty! Not listening, not stopping when I asked her to, blowing past me when I lunged her, looky-looing at everyone, shaking her head when I tried to use the halter to ask her to stop when lunging...at one point I was just leading her in a straight line and without any warning or anything that set her off, she jumped straight up in the air...literallly at least 3 feet up! I had to take her outside and do a bunch of lunging and lots of changing of direction before she settled down and could actually pay attention to me somewhat. Even then, she was still restless, but at least not bumping into me.
I didn't expect it out of her because immediately before the clinic, a friend and I took the mares for a ride on some new trails near the facility, and I ponied Shimmer all saddled up, and she was really good (with the exception of pinning her ears at Cody, which is something she would never have gotten away with in the pasture). During the ride, the mares where a bit on edge too...walking really fast, just unsettled, but ok. By the end of the ride they were much calmer.
The mares were part of the groundwork clinic too, and other people were using them (my friend and one other person in the clinic). Catlow was very well behaved, but Cody was almost as bad as Shimmer (looky-looing, restless...and I hear she got very naughty when I took Shimmer outside to tune her up).
After the clinic, we went back out on the trails with a couple of boarders at the facility and the mares were even more on edge! You would think they would be tired, or more relaxed after all the work they had, but no. It was a long day for them. Their udders where pretty full by the time we were done, so I'm sure they were plenty distracted. They were all tied to the trailer at the end, happily eating hay from their haybags, while I chatted with a few people over by the barn, when suddenly I saw Cody walking out the gate and back down the trail! She untied herself and decided she was heading home! I ran after her and caught up to her and she stopped for me, but she was on a mission! Heading home! They all loaded back up and made the trip home fine.
Everyone was pretty happy to be home.
Today I took Charlie out, spontaneously, and took her on a walk down the driveway. As soon as we walked out the door to the shed, she immediately was on edge, eyes big, nostrils flared. I should have thought better but I just wanted to see how she'd be down the driveway. Well, she completely lost her mind. She was not paying any attention to me at all, and could have been dangerous even as she was walking into me and progressed to half rearing. I stupidly thought I could work her through it, though I had never done any lunging or that type of work with her when she was actually calm. It didn't really work, and she was still out of control. She was more than happy to get back up to the house, and when she heard Cody whinny, she tried to bolt away from me, reared up, and tumbled over half backwards (she didn't get hurt, but it did scare her a bit (more than she was already)).
So, I decided to wean the babies. I need them to be okay without their mommas! And I think it will help the mommas focus when we are out and about. They are almost 10 months old and have grown well. I was going to wait until the grass came in this year, but I have a clinic and overnight trail ride trip planned for mid-May, so now is as good a time as ever! The babies are locked in the barn right now. It's the safest place for them. I'm going to let the mares in twice a day to let the babies nurse just to help them slow their milk production down before we cut them off completely. So it'll be a slow wean for the first week, and then it'll be cold turkey.
The babies aren't too happy right now, but at least Charlie calmed down once she was with Denny and in the barn. They are whinnying often, but this shall pass.
Catch and Release Game
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