Due to the morning rain and a pile of course prep work I needed to get out of the way in order to cruise in to a nice weekend, I didn't get Sherm out first thing. That is nearly always a mistake, and tonight was the penultimate example of said mistake.
I brought him in about an hour earlier than everyone else to let him get some hay in his tummy and then took him out for grooming while everyone else was just starting in to their dinners. He was fine with the grooming, quite happy with it, actually, as it was 75 today, and his winter coat is still hanging in there. Itchy and full of dinner, he was quite happy to let me scrape away the loose hair and dust.
Tacking up was good, too. He even sought the bit when I put the bridle on his face, a new willing eagerness this season. All good so far!
But the lunge work went straight to hell. He bucked; he dug deep holes as he bolted into the canter and then out of the canter into a gallop (a cow-gallop at that) and so on...and so on. Usually the trick with Sherman when he's got the ya-ya's is to push him on just a bit, make him work harder at it. Well, tonight he had the stamina and the balance to work as harder as I could push him, and then the inevitable happened-- he got sweaty.
Very sweaty. Lathered, actually. And once he was sweaty, he got cranky. And once he was cranky, it was the end of a long day, and though the lights were on, nobody was home. He was merely 900 lbs of sweaty horse flesh, no brain, no soul. Just angry. So that didn't go anywhere good.
I quit the lungeing once it became clear that he could run all night, but with nothing good to come of it. I pulled off his saddle and left it on the rail, knowing I'd need to take it into the house (right by the ring) for cleaning, and so didn't need to have him carry it back to the barn just so I could carry it back up to the house. This ignited the slightest flicker of his attention.
Then we worked on in-hand manners. Walking, trotting, halting squarely in hand. It was enough challenge, and cooler enough that he seemed to grow back if not a brain, then at least a brain stem. He was polite and correct, if neither thrilled nor all that brilliant. It was a reasonable finish to a session that had all the hallmarks of absolutely worthless disaster.
Lots of factors here, a whole list of things we did out of the ordinary that may have been at play:
- 75 degrees on March 16th, and a young horse with most of his winter coat still on
- Didn't lunge in side reins, a tool Sherman has shown great confidence in and reliance upon (just lazy; I hadn't gotten them out, and by the time I realized it, I figured, "meh, he won't need them"-- wrong)
- Working at the end of the day; not our usual time, and most certainly not my best; maybe not his, either
- Feeding before working; I figured this was about the same as our usual summer routine, where he works right after breakfast, but perhaps he figured differently
- Another young horse working in another ring; all the other horses in for the night-- distraction? Paranoia? Cougars in the bushes? Vorpal rabbits if nothing else.
So, there are factors, shit I did wrong. But there's also Sherman, who is almost five, and may just have been having an almost five day. Sometimes that's just how it goes. It goes this way so rarely with Sherm, though, that I guess I'm spoiled.
Mama said there'd be days like these, but I have to be honest-- there aren't very many of them. So I guess I'll count my blessings and try again tomorrow.