It finally felt a little bit more like spring today, so with the impending promise of bad weather I decided to skip the arena work and play with both the kids out in the big hay field. The footing is the right mix of kind of frozen but kind of wet, and I wanted to take advantage of that to get everybody thinking about where our feet are going. I was also super curious how they would handle the switch up. Usually the first few works outside are a bit of a rodeo!
Abby was first on the list for the day, and since she lives outside 24/7, I was pretty comfortable pulling her out and heading straight up to the field. She’s taken one or two walks up to the outdoor, but hasn’t ventured much further. We started our work on the big conditioning hill, hiking up and down for about 15 minutes until we were both huffing and puffing.
Once we got the blood moving, we walked out to the furthest part of the field and once I was sure I had her eye, I fed her more and more of the lunge line and let her work out the tricky footing. Watching g her figure it out was fascinating, as she was incredibly careful about where she put her feet without slacking on what I was asking her to do. She seemed to really enjoy the challenge of it all, and settled super quickly into the task at hand. I lunged her all up and down the field without a single hiccup. She was happy to work wherever I asked her to, despite it being mud or snow or puddles.
We finished the adventure with a slow walk back to the barn, and I let her walk in the ring for a while. She’s a super froward thinking girl, so it was great to see her take a breath and just walk herself out at the end of the line. I’m always super impressed with her brain and her willingness to say “yea, let’s try that!”
Next up was Eli.
Despite spending the majority of his day outside, he came screeching into the barn with his eyes popping out of his head and his brain going a million miles an hour. After spending twenty minutes galloping around me like a mad man, he finally settled enough to offer some nice stretchy trot work but was still concentrating on everything BUT me… not wanting to take him out into the field without more of his attention, we brought out the sketchy grain bag from hell. A lot of the time redirecting him towards working through something “scary” really helps bring him back to earth and feeling more confident in himself.
It worked like a charm and after spending some time immersing himself in something other than what everybody else was doing, we had him checked back into Earth. We took our stroll up to the conditioning hill and did our up and downs for 15 minutes as well before walking out to the far end to work.
Unlike his sister, Eli’s response to strange situations is to either not move, or go 100mph. He was unsure about the footing (despite his $225 fancy winter shoes with studs and borium) and instead of taking the time to think, he decided the way to handle that situation was to go slipping and sliding around until he figured out slower was better. We did the same thing, moving up and down the field, and while he never once tried to drag me home, he needed a lot more help navigating the whole situation.
It’s so interesting to me how they each handle situations so differently, and while we ended on the same positive note it definitely took two completely opposite roads to get there. I have a lot of learning to do from both of them and I’m considering myself incredibly lucky to be doing just that!