Y’all know how much I like ponying. Presto was ponied anywhere and everywhere I could possibly take him for basically 3 years of his life, which I think was definitely helpful. He got to see and experience all kinds of things. There are lots of benefits besides just exercising two horses at once… you can also let a young one see things for the first time with a horse friend and without the stress or perhaps lack of confidence that they might have if they’re facing it on their own with a rider. If they want to be a bit naughty or spooky it’s also a lot easier (and less risky) to keep the exuberance under wraps while you’ve got them on a lead rope, you’re near their head, and you have the advantage of leverage. And the extra selling point of OTTB’s? They already are quite experienced with ponying – they come with that skill pre-installed.
So I decided last Friday that since Gemma had settled in well at the barn and with the other horses, we may as well take her on a little tour of the whole property. At that point she’d really only seen the barn and courtyard area, but she always wants to look at things so I thought she might enjoy a change of scenery. The weather was a bit chillier and windier than I may have preferred, but she’s very polite so I figured… meh why not. I put Henry in the crossties and got him ready, then grabbed Gemma and tied her next to him (she’s still learning about crossties) while I put on my helmet and Henry’s bridle. Then I hopped on Henry, untied Gemma, and away we went. Ponying is old hat to both of them so they knew the drill, the only minor issue was Henry’s attitude.
He’s pretty much all bark and no bite, but Gemma is fairly submissive, so when he would make his nasty faces she would immediately back away. Which then sent Henry on a power trip. His ego is… something. Once we left the courtyard and started exploring she stopped paying as much attention to him, because there were way better and cooler things to look at.
One of the things I really like about Gemma is how curious she is. She doesn’t have that brash bravado that Presto has, where he sees something, marches right up to it, and tries to smash it with his feet, but she definitely wants to see and understand things. She looks, then she touches it with her nose and sniffs it to figure it out. It’s a much quieter, less destructive type of curiosity, but I would definitely still classify her as a brave type of horse. She might want to pause for a second to think about it, but she always ultimately wants to go forward toward the “scary” thing. I hope that translates under saddle too.
We made a lap each way of the front field, stopping near the neighbors fence line so we could watch and listen to their rickety old metal shed flapping in the wind. Henry spooked at it pretty hard, and his spooking spooked her, but she was less upset about the noise than he was.
Then we walked around and into the dressage arena (pausing to sniff the dressage letters and the arena wall, of course) and then through the jump field. I had a couple poles set out so we walked over those too, which was no biggie. She was looking around and very interested in everything, but not upset or worried. We made another lap of the front field and then went back to the barn, completing her first successful farm exploration session. Once she’s cleared to return to under saddle work I think she’ll have a really good time hacking.
I was relieved that we didn’t encounter the rogue cow — omg wait I forgot to tell y’all the story of the rogue cow. Hold up. Screeching halt for one sec.
So a couple weeks ago I was up in the barn doing stalls and at one point I could have sworn I saw a cow way out in the back pasture. We don’t have cows, but the neighbors do, so I was like uh oh is the fence down? By the time I finished what I was doing and walked down there, there wasn’t a cow in sight. I walked the entire fenceline just to make sure there wasn’t a breach and couldn’t find anything at all. We have no-climb back there, so it’s not like it’s an easy fence to get past. I was like well ok I am pretty tired, maybe I just… hallucinated the cow. Maybe it was a deer. The incident became a joke about me being in such a weird headspace that I was hallucinating cows. Fast forward to a few days ago and I’m in the jump field setting jumps for Hillary when low and behold AGAIN I see a cow in the back pasture. I look at Hillary, I look at the cow, and I whisper “do you see the cow?”. She turns and looks and confirms that yes indeed she sees the cow too. Great, I’m not hallucinating. Off we go through the fields to the back pasture, come around the corner of the hacking trail and boom – BIG ASS WHITE COW just standing there alone in the back pasture like he owns the place. We got about 30′ away from him, Mina having now spotted him and started barking, and he very casually looks at us, turns around, and jumps back over the fence like it’s nothing. I was like HOLY SHIT. HOLY SHIT. Ok #1 that is a pretty scopy cow, but #2 HOLY SHIT that cow just jumped right over the fence! Upon further examination of the ground in that area he’s clearly been doing that a lot. I’m so glad Hillary was there to witness or no one ever would have believed me but yeah… we have a rogue, very scopy, tres athletic, fence-jumping neighbor cow.
ANYWAY – luckily we didn’t encounter the cow that day I was ponying Gemma. I don’t know what she would have made of that.