Yesterday was a warm, close Spring day and we decided to go out with Ben and Rosie, en famille. My husband led our youngest daughter on Rosie, allowing her to pick her way along the road choosing grass verges where she could. My older daughter rode Ben. This was her first ride on Ben since he bucked her off before Christmas. It was also his first ride since coming home.
Since coming home, he has done in-hand picadero work, reinforced with clicker, re-called boundaries around food, and around Rosie, and walked out with me in-hand. One of my resolutions was to become irresistible to Ben. I am not sure if that is quite how he sees me, but he is keen to come up and keen to put his nose in the headcollar. After his rest of course.
On the days I am not working, it suits me to feed them both at the usual early time, get the girls to school and then run around the house doing household chores. Mid morning, I am ready to go. Mid-morning, Ben is ready for a nap. He sees me coming, looks towards me, and then turns away. Even if I take Rosie to the picadero, he comes up to keep an eye on things, but falls asleep. No enticing with clicker can budge him from this schedule. So sometimes I join them both for a rest. At other times I tackle the shed cum tack room which badly needs re-arranging. When Ben decides that they both need to wake up, he comes up to me, I hold out the headcollar and he puts his nose in.
Anyway, yesterday we headed out. I stayed on foot at Ben’s head as my daughter was understandably a bit nervous about the new young horses in the fields around and Ben’s possible reactions to them. He was great, daughter was delighted, and we walked at a nice pace, Ben slowing down over rougher patches of road but generally happy to walk on the road (without boots), not seeking the grass verges. Youngest daughter became tired quicker than we would have liked and having given them some grazing time we turned for home.
This was where Ben was reluctant. His footsteps slowed, he acted like Shakespeare’s school boy “creeping like a snail unwillingly to school” or home in this case. He quite clearly was not ready to turn back. That was very pleasing.
He is shedding and needs to. Even that mild exercise made him sweat. And, also very pleasingly, Rosie is shedding too. Last Spring she did not. In the autumn she had a treatment from the homeopathic vet and has been on Chaste Berry all winter. Something is working.