Word of advice to everyone: do NOT get a Mystery Illness of Mystery. Because it is not fun, and you will spend a day in bed with a fever and you will go to the doctor and the doctor will run lots of tests and none of then will come back conclusive and you will only know what you don't have but still feel like crap. I started feeling bad after Carriage House, but chalked it up to exhaustion. Only it took a week before I could walk across the pasture without feeling like I was going to pass out. Which obviously meant I didn't do much with Royal except lean against him and run a brush down his side while he ate his grain. It took a few more days before we went for a short ride on the road. Which was about all I could do at that point.
All of this meant that Royal had quite a bit of time with no mentally challenging activities. Even when the weather is bad, I try to keep his proverbial left brain working with things like leading by a leg or Touch It games. But when I feel like Death Warmed Over And Left To Cool On The Counter, it didn't happen. So as I've started doing stuff with him again over the past couple of weeks, he's been unusually right brained, to the point where I've had to stop working on Contact or psuedo-bridleless riding and help him realize that the squirrels are not out to get him. The fast that's been raining almost every day and he hates doing stuff in the rain doesn't help either. On Monday, we went for a ride on the road, and I could feel his adrenaline start coming up as we got out of the driveway. I asked him for a trot, which quickly turned into a canter and then a gallop up the hill. At not point did he feel out of control, but I let him go as fast as he needed to. He settled into a trot that would have been at home in a harness race and even trotted past the Sheep of Death without too much fuss. Eventually he settled into a walk, snorting and sighing and stretching. But he still felt a little on edge. Tuesday we played a bit OnLine with the Figure-8 pattern, and he seemed to really connect with me.
So on Wednesday, I decided to try practicing braiding. I didn't know if his mane was the appropriate length (answer: nope, too long. Need to shorten in a couple inches), so I tied him up to a tree and gave him some hay. But he decided that he was not going to tie that day. Usually he's super great about tying, but on Wednesday, he pulled back. Hard. And repeatedly. I untied him once and let him trot around for a bit, thinking maybe he had too much energy. But no. I retied him, and the same thing happened. So I figured I had to do something before he injured himself, went to untie him, and as I pulled the rope to release the knot, he pulled again, trapping my hand between the tree and the rope, taking off a couple layers of skin on parts of my fingers. Ouch. Luckily I had some Band-Aids in the car, so I was able to bandage my hand. Even though I took him out to the field to let him run off the adrenaline (and he ran for a long time), he still was fidgeting and didn't want to eat his grain. In hindsight, his neck was probably sore.
So, luckily I have some strategies to try out. Mostly they involve lots of Friendly Game with the tree & refreshers of the Porcupine Game, but also being very strategic about how I "tie" him. And by "tie", I mean wrapping the rope 4 or 5 times around the tree so it has some give, but not too much. A Blocker Tie Ring may also be a useful investment.
Or I could find a Sudoku For Horses book. That might help.