Joker ended up arriving on Sunday instead of sooner due to truck trouble. But Elise brought him down safe and sound and fluffy. Wow, not being at the barn all the time made me forget how early in the year their coats start coming in.
He unloaded fine. After we sorted things with the BO about where everything should go, we put him out in his 10-day quarantine pasture so Elise and I could go talk and eat for a bit. She has some really exciting, international things on the horizon in 2016 so it was a lot of fun to catch up. We went back to the barn to check the fit of my saddle on him so we put him in the crossties. That’s when he realized he was a bit up, pawing, screaming, more like 21 years old going on 2. I chalked it up to him showing off for the new mares and, when the saddle looked fine, we threw him on the lunge.
I didn’t take any pictures because I was trying not to get bowled over – pushy is a good word for his mood that day. But he was a very good boy once he was out on the lunge and settled down just fine. Since he was virtually just off the trailer, we called it a day and Elise headed back out.
I’ve been battling a cold and still wasn’t 100% on Monday so I stayed away from the barn (read: husband convinced me not to go although I had every intention to haha). But Tuesday there was no stopping me – I was determined to ride. So after work, in the light rain, I headed out to the barn intending to ride Joker for the first time.
Joker greeted me at the gate and walked calmly back to the barn. There was another horse in the indoor arena being long lined as we headed for the cross ties (out of sight). Once in the cross ties, Joker decided he was still maybe 2 and not 21 and lost his marbles a bit. At least I can still tack up a very squirmy horse, right? I got after him because rearing in the cross ties is a no no, no matter how new to a barn you are. Very strange as I know this is completely out of character!
We headed to the indoor and I put him on the lunge for a minute to make sure he left the sillies in the cross ties. For the most part, he had. He was a little tense and pushy but listening so after a little lunging and a little ground work to make sure I had his brain (and quit the pushiness), I mounted up. Or rather had to sort of launch myself from the mounting block to reach him since he would not stand still but at least he’s only 14.3, right?
He was certainly tense but did fine. I walked him on a loose rain while he looked around the indoor. The long lining horse was still in there with us and was being very nice about sharing the space. We trotted a bit and Joker pretended to be a giraffe – boy, he can get his nose up there! But every once in a while he would relax and gave me some nice, albeit zippy, trotting. He was definitely still tense, though, so I tried to give him lots of pats and good boys. We went over a few ground poles which seemed to help keep him focused.
Unfortunately, the other horse left the arena before we were done and Joker just couldn’t deal. We had some spinning and rearing. I managed a few tight circles before one rear was just a little too high and unsafe for comfort so I hopped off. Hey, at least I can still emergency dismount, right?
Back in the crossties (next to his apparent new best friend), he was still VERY up and pawing but at least not rearing. BFF left before I was done untacking him and we lost it again. At one point he quit, parked out, and proceeded to take a nice, very long pee. I laughed and thought, “Oooh, that explains it,” and expected him to regrow his brain cells. Heh, well, it wasn’t meant to be. I undid the cross ties and put a leadrope on and we played the standing-still-is-good-rearing-is-bad game for 20 minutes. In the meantime, another horse joined us on the cross ties next to us and suddenly 21 year old Joker remembered his age and stood calmly with his head down. He yawned and yawned and acted liked nothing happened. Really?
Not sure what ants are in his pants but I’m giving him today off. Elise is sending a calming supplement that will hopefully help until he decides that his brain lives in his head again. She is totally floored as he’s never acted like this, never even bucked under saddle much less flip out and rear. Although the goal of bringing Joker down was to build my confidence and that really didn’t happen our first ride, I was surprisingly OK, even zen about it. I felt like I knew when to get off and, before that, it felt great to trot around for even 15 minutes. I didn’t get mad or scared. Certainly I would prefer him not to act this way moving forward but I am sort of patting myself on the back for being out of the saddle (except backing babies) for 5 years and being able to handle mister loopy pants. And not just handle him but not be afraid of him and exercise good judgement. Yay for being a competent defensive rider but here’s hoping I can leave that profession soon and be able to enjoy the ride.