November 10, 2012

The Scary Indoor Arena

Now that the time change has occurred, it's almost dark when I arrive at the barn right after work.  The last few weeks I've been spoiled by having Dani in a stall since she is recovering from her leg injury.  Tomorrow she'll be back in the field full time and I'm afraid of how it will be to try and "catch" a horse in the dark!!!!
The sky was amazing the other day, when I arrived the clouds glowed a luminescent aura that detailed the rays of light as the sun sank below the mountains.  I love Colorado!  The pine trees and house silhouetted against the sunset as I drove up the Whispering Winds driveway.  The view was gorgeous and calmed my senses after a long day of work.  It was a great transition from work to a great joy in my life.  I wish I could earn my salary grooming and working with my horse or honestly all the horses at the barn!  I love walking into the barn with the scent of horses and fresh hay.
I had to groom Dani in her stall since a lot of students were untacking and grooming their horses in the two wash racks and in other stalls.  Dani has been great about the wash rack.  I honestly expected a little regression from time to time but once she excepted that the wash rack was harmless she just excepted it!!  She certainly fidgets more in the stall, I think she's agitated having herself tied up to a solid wall and not being able to see about.  She tosses her head and plays with the lead rope, I'll post a video of that in another blog post.  There's not much I know to do in order to calm her, I just get my job done and make sure she respects my space while I groom her.  It can get annoying but she only seems to do this when tied in the stall.
Today I just wanted to work with her in the indoor arena.  She's still very unsure of this "chasm of equine demise".  We walked around the arena, it was empty today so I was able to let her stand and sniff; pretty much do whatever felt fine with her.  I let her see her shadow (aka the black horse shaped blob of death) and then let her sniff the corner areas that are home to various jump pieces and obstacles.

I made sure that after she'd sniffed them, that each jump stand moved and made noise so she realized a little bit of movement still held no threat.
While we were walking around the arena I'm guessing Dani was rather close to the wooden boards that border the ring and her hooves kicked up some of the substrate making an "ominous sound" thus causing her to nearly trample me as I calmly walked beside her.  As you can guess I spent the next period of time walking her around the entire arena, kicking up the substrate against the walls, banging the lead rope against the board and basically making as much noise as I could as we made our way around the ring.  Eventually Dani showed no reaction to anything I was doing.

Granted my little mare will need more an more exposure to the scary stuff of the ring from the windows pointed east where horses can easily view the lights of cars driving by in the distance to the mirrors on the walls that show some strange horse looking at them!
A couple of days later I brought her in a again with about 5-6 horses in the arena at one time.  Some horses were taking their riders through a lesson and others were just doing their own thing.  At any rate the ring was pretty busy and was good exposure for Dani.  She watched the other horses moving around, I kicked up dirt at the walls and moved the corner obstacles as she sniffed them.  I wouldn't say she was "calm" but I don't feel she was on the verge of shying away from any of these "threats".  I was actually pretty happy with her behavior and the improvement in her response to the indoor arena.  I think she learns fast, definitely a good thing but I know I have to be careful she doesn't learn something I don't want her to! 
We'll continue the exposure to the indoor arena, and in about a week should be able to start some full on groundwork since her leg should be 100%.  She'll eventually realize that the indoor is no big deal and get on with the lessons I'll be teaching her.


Emmi said...

That darn arena, it can be so scary!! Exposure is such a great thing :)

Girl With a Dream said...

That indoor arena can be so scary, sounds like the exposure did her some good.

Just a thought but now the times changed and is dark earlier so ud fetch her in, in the dark, couldn't you ask someone whos at the yard to bring your horse in while its still light for you to make it a bit easier? just a thought cause thats what we do at my yard.

Ruffles said...

Hey, thanks for commenting on my blog. I just started reading your blog and ended up reading your past posts for about 1 hr :)
Dani sounds like such a nice horse. She is really pretty.

Indoor arenas sure can be scary to some horses.