I've been trying to get up earlier in the morning so Cookie and I can get some walks in outside of the paddock. Even though the past couple of days we've had rain and it's been somewhat cooler, when the sun does come out it's like taking a steam bath and neither of us want to be working in it.
I liken the south to be similar to a greenhouse. It's hot and muggy inside all the time and unless there's a break in the humidity it's just too hot to do anything except play in the sprinkler and sometimes that isn't even enough to cool off.
This morning I thought I'd try a few sips of a new coffee I brought home. It's the instant kind and Hazelnut which I really like. The downside is it's regular and not decaf. After my sips of coffee and a bottle of water, Cookie and I set out on a nice long walk down some back streets this morning. Before we could get started I had to get onto her about a few manners she seemed to be lacking. A few circles and backing up steps later we were off.
I could feel the effects of the coffee kick in, though I didn't think anything of it at the time. We came upon a worms nest in a pecan tree and Cookie thought that thing was going to eat her alive. So we walked up to it, she sniffed it and we walked on. Found another one hanging relatively low and she sniffed it to satisfy her spooky curiosity. On down the street we came to some water run off that she wanted to blow at. We took the time to step over it, in it, through it and see it from all angles possible then continued on.
We were doing great for a good distance. Then a paper plate was our next object of spookiness. Everything to this point she would sniff, satisfy her curiosity and we'd move on. I took the plate and let her smell it, raised it up in the air and even tossed it so it would fly a bit. She did great. She watched it somewhat wide eyed, but held her ground. When the plate settled and she lowered her head again, we left it to move on forward.
Then came some 55 gallon drums laying on their side. They were sort of rusty colored and there was an old white and chrome gas pump leaning against the fence. On top of that, between us and those drums was a shallow small ditch. Wild eyed, blowing, then a breeze came up and a bird rustled out of the trees above those barrels. She jumped back and snorted. I just let her have her head until she stopped her feet.
I brought her back across the street to where the barrels were and let her stand there a few moments. She tried everything she could to get away from there and I would bring her back to that spot until she stood still for a few moments. Then I moved her off into some circles and brought her back. As long as she stood still for a good length of time, I'd release the pressure and bring her back around to it.
The running stream in the ditch was about 6" wide. You could easily step over it and the ditch itself wasn't deep at all. Cookie was not about to cross that ditch if her life depended on it. I took the same approach as before, only this time instead of leading her to it head on, I backed her down into the ditch. When she was on the other side she was still jumpy and spooky, but she didn't get out of hand. She stood there, sniffing and blowing. So we stood still for a while. She wanted to eat the grass, but I wouldn't let her because there was an oily film over the water and no telling what was on the grass.
I lead her up a few feet where the barrels were and let her see and smell those. Then it came time to cross the ditch and get back up onto the street. I took a small step across the ditch to show her it wasn't all that she was making it out to be. Then I made sure I wasn't directly in front of her anticipating this huge jump she was going to make and she did. When we were on solid ground again, I turned her to face those drums and stream again. When she lowered her head, we moved on down the street.
On the other side the water was running much faster and even made noise so we stopped to investigate that and she had no problems what so ever. We got to the end of the street, where she could see across the highway there was some heavy equipment and a auto repair shop making lots of noise. She glanced around and headed back the way we came. The barrels and gas pump were no longer a threat, but that tiny stream was giving her fits. Not nearly as bad as when we came through the first time, but I can see where we need to work on it. I didn't stop to work on it on the way back, instead we moved on and came across that plate again. Cookie curiously looked at it but wasn't spooked by it. Progress however small is still that, progress.
We came up to the water on the asphalt and stomped all in it as if it were nothing. Then the worm nests in the pecan trees. Cookie thought about taking a bite of those leaves, but I wouldn't let her. Then back across the street and onto the house.
I'm so blessed to have a horse that doesn't bolt when she spooks. She does jump, blow and snort, but she generally holds her ground and doesn't take off like a wild banchy. I can handle that alright. The bolting, not so much. lol
Now about the coffee... after I got Cookie settled back into her paddock I came into the house, drank some more water, ate my breakfast and I noticed I was jittery. At first I thought it was just because I waited too long to eat.... then it hit me. The coffee made me jittery and I can almost guarantee that's part of why Cookie was spooky this morning. She was feeding off of those coffee vibes! Makes perfect sense. When I'm calm and collected, she's generally calm and collected. Now that doesn't mean she's Miss perfect, but it does mean she can handle things much better.
So if you go to work your horse and you've had a good dose of caffeine, you can expect your horse to get a little excited, or maybe alot if you've had espresso. They feed off of your body language, and they can sense when you're not quite right. A horse is like a mirror... they show us who we really are in that moment.
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