The weather today was perfect. Low 70's, sunny, a slight breeze. Just cool enough to wear a long sleeved shirt; a sweatshirt would have been too much. Perfect. I groomed Boomer, nipped off part of his frog which was peeling. The hoof structure is ever changing and growing. The frog is a triangular area of spongy tissue which extends from the heel bulbs to about half way along the bottom of the hoof. It is a shock absorbing cushion. It sloughs off a few times a year if it is not being naturally worn down by rocky surfaces or dry conditions. It peels off over the course of a week and it is not painful to trim off the excess. I also applied a copper based liquid which helps to dry out any bacterial growth from around the depths of the frog between the frog and bars. The farrier is coming on Saturday so I would like Boomer's feet to be in the best condition possible so that he can trim to best suit Boomer.
I longed Boomer out in the open area with the other horses out and wandering around. Partially, I was too lazy to round them up and partially I wanted to work Boomer with distractions. He was perfect. I don't know what else to say about it! At one point when he was trotting Grunt walked up in front of him and he just slowed to a walk and looked at me as if he were suggesting that maybe turning around would be a good idea. I decided to ask him to walk on and he passed Grunt. I flicked the whip at Grunt and Penelope and Boomer went on like nothing happened! I even asked him to canter in both directions. This was the first time we have cantered in an open space since I have been working on his transitions in the round pen. He was perfect. He knew what I was asking for and he responded. At first his circles were a bit lopsided and egg shaped. He was having to make a sharp turn at one end to make it around and was dropping to the trot. After a few laps of keeping on him by pulling the longe line to my hip and holding it tight while snaking the whip after him and kissing encouragement he started to even out the circles on his own and was staying balanced and in the canter without encouragement! At one point, he dropped to the trot and was already cantering again by the time I was halfway through the word canter. Which, ironically, means I was saying 'cant' while he was showing me that- in fact- he could! Like I said, it was a perfect day.
It gets better. When we were finishing up I asked him to halt and he stood statue still for a full minute! This is somethign I want to work on as it will help with mounting, dismounting, and having good manners while I ride. After I unclipped him I let him graze for a few minutes while I wrapped up the longe line and he just grazed, never taking a step away from me even though he was 'free'.
And better. I walked him towards the paddock to drop off our stuff and I decided we should practice walking over to the tree where the farrier worked with him last time. Well, we were walking and all of a sudden we were at the faucet. He hadn't balked. So, we stepped closer. I rinsed the light sweat from his chest and arm pits and we wandered around a bit, grazing and reveling in the days good fortune!
As we were walking towards the paddock he balked and I decided to try something new since I was alone, without a belly rope or any other device. I pulled the lead rope taught behind my hip for leverage and used my free hand to start hacking away karate style on the rope. It vibrated his nose and he looked a little annoyed, but generally relaxed. Then he stepped forward, I released, he sighed with relief, and walked on. My eyes just about popped out of my head. He didn't set back to pull, he didn't toss his head, and he wasn't stubborn! I didn't have to use force. I just annoyed him enough that he would rather have followed than have his face jiggled!
I tied him to the Blocker ring and went to put away my grooming tools and get his food. I am still wary of leaving him tied while I am out of sight. He hasn't tested the tie ring yet and I would hate for him to freak out while I am in the shed and on the other side of the gate! We are taking baby steps on this one, which may be more for my peace of mind than anything else! So, I was gone for about 2 minutes to put stuff away and get his food. He was in the same spot when I came back. I put his food in the bucket and walked him to it slowly. He kept his ears forward and his head down. I let him go and he calmly walked over to eat.
A perfect day.