Could it be? Yes! It seems that winter, after a long and terrible battle, has finally released its grip on the upper Midwest and we have lovely mud season weather. Mud Season: You'll be so happy to see the sun you won't notice the mud taking off your shoes.
But all is well in the world of the Royal Fuzz. After the close-call with the Arch of Death (and I did find a new one, so that'll go up as soon as it gets here) and Royal's subsequent touchiness with his legs, things have been going well. Tuesday I went out after lab and, after making sure wasn't touchy about his legs (he wasn't), I hopped on bareback and we went for a walk down the road. The farm is on a little dirt road with a few other houses. The next-door neighbor is the one I call Needle-Dick, because I'm sure he must be compensating for SOMETHING. He has a shooting range in his backyard, which is technically illegal, and is shooting almost every day. I want to tell him that a handgun won't do much for him an a zombie apocalypse, but Needle-Dick doesn't strike me as the humorous type. He also leaves his garbage cans at the end of the driveway all the time, which mean Royal is convinced they are hiding monsters. He does not want to walk past them or will only do so with a lot of snorting and tension. I decided to see how far we could get.
So, we're moseying down the road and about 1/8th of a mile from Needle-Dick's house, Royal spots the garbage cans and stops dead. I decided to use the zig-zag technique and asked Royal to go to the right. Then left. Right. Left. Right. Left. All the while getting closer to the cans. Finally we're right in front of them, and Royal stays on the other side of the road and walks past the cans. I kept his nose slightly tipped to the cans, and once we made it past, asked him to disengage his HQ and stop. We looked at the cans for a while and walked past them again, slightly closer. Stop, disengage, and go past again. He walked in the middle of the road only slightly looking at the can, we turned around again, went past the can, and went back to the farm. I was so proud.
Thursday I didn't have any class, so I went back out. I hoped to do some more riding and also try on Royal's new splint boots. I've had the front ones forever and they're still holding up fairly well, with just a bit of discoloration and rust on the metal. So I got some matching ones for his hind legs. He thought that was very weird and starting holding up his hind legs, one at a time. I didn't have my cell phone with me at the time, otherwise I would have gotten a picture. As it was, I wanted Royal to get used to the boots, so I walked with him back out to my car to get my phone because I really wanted a picture with all four boots on.
Why yes, my horse's color IS royal blue. Why do you ask?
Then followed one of the best ride we've had. I've (finally) realized that I shouldn't be treating him like an Right Brain Extrovert, but a Left Brain Extrovert. RBEs need lots of consistency to relax and focus, while LBEs need to play to become obedient. So I basically became manic after our warm up. Walk, trot, canter, walk, back up, trot, canter, trot, walk, turn on the haunches, trot, walk, back up, walk, canter, walk, canter, trot, canter, walk, turn on the forehand, walk, back-up, walk, trot, walk, canter, etc. All in very rapid succession and being very particular about transitioning off my seat. At first he was sort of fighting me, but quickly became more in harmony with him and starting putting a lot of effort in. I was trying for balanced transitions and when I got a smooth and lovely left lead canter departure (his biggest challenge), I quit there. He got many treats and a good roll in the dirt. Both of us were very happy.