Sun Storm...aka Sunny
First, let me just tell you how despite not being 'worked', as in my grabbing the end of that lead rope and dragging her about the paddock, Sunny has made great strides. I stood in the opening of her stall, talking over the wall to Quiet Storm. There was hay in Sunny's manger, and she rather wanted to eat it. The problem, of course, being me standing there in the opening.
Her eyes went back and forth between me and the hay. After a minute or two, she gave up a sigh and walked quietly past me into the barn. A momentous occasion! She'd put herself in a corner, basically, with me now between her and the way out. I gave Quiet Storm a pat and walked away with a smile.
Yesterday the sun came out (but only after the snow flurry) and since Quiet Storm hadn't been out of her paddock in over a week, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. I moved Taffy and the other ewes into the bottom field with the rams, grabbed the lead rope and led Quiet Storm through out of the paddock and towards the pasture gate. Good golly, was she feeling good! She did these little 'airs above the ground' moves when she should have been walking placidly at my side, or at the very least trying to grab at blades of grass.
The mud monster proving she's still got it!
Turned her out in the pasture and...zoom! Off she went. Typically very laid back, generally not exerting more energy than necessary, today she was bound and determined to show her wild side! Instead of her usual two laps, she spend five minutes out there playing.
I left Quiet Storm out for an hour or so. She had spent her energy and was digging through old sheep hay, so I put her back into her paddock. Sunny watched. I looked out at the pasture, wondering if I'd be able to catch her? She's so food oriented, and City Boy had just finished the gate linking her paddock to the field only moments ago...surely I'd be able to get her back in, right? Well, only one way to find out. It's not like she's the easiest horse to catch up in the paddock, but it can be done. And the day was so beautiful...
You know, it's always frightening turning a horse out for the first time in spring; you never know just how stupid they're going to be, or if they'll stumble, twist something, or break a leg in their haste to bolt out into open. Add to that the fear of turning your still semi-wild horse loose, and you ought to be a nervous wreck. I'm not smart enough to be that nervous. Oh, sure, I was a bit nervous. But not nervous enough to have checked to see that the battery for the electric fence was dead before moving forward with my plan to set Sunny free.
Sunny walked along obediently. She tried to pull away just after moving through the gate, but I had firm grip on a short lead, so she went back to leading...and she did it well enough so as to convince strangers that she actually knew how! I was amazed, quite frankly, at how easily she followed me towards the fencing. I wanted her to acknowledge the boundaries before I turned her loose. She looked at the fence, gazed at the sheep, and pulled her head down where the nubbins of grass were.
Green grass? This tastes good!
That's when the neighbor let her horses out. They've got a gelding that screams like a stallion. Sunny bolted immediately towards them. Too much for me to hang onto that time, so I just watched her go. Thankfully, there's a small stand of trees between the fences, so she was forced to slow down and see the fence line down there. But boy, did it feel good to run! And so she did it some more...
Free at last!
Look at her get down close to the ground!
I think she needs to work cows...
That doesn't feel good...
I let her play for about 20 minutes. The actual playing time was more like five; once she settled down and had spent some time grazing, I decided it was time to go in. Sunny didn't agree. It took me another 40 minutes to catch her up; she didn't run or get stupid, just made sure my hand couldn't quite reach her lead rope. And I didn't spend the entire time following her around, I did a few other chores between attempts. She wanted her grain, but not badly enough to go back into the paddock. Eventually she gave in and allowed me to lead her back to the barn.
I think before I let her out again, though, I'll recharge the battery for the fence!