+ 40 mph winds and 59 mph gusts
= a dangerous unpredictable animal.
Magic is always ready to spook at the slightest thing. The wind today gave him an excuse to be even more reactive. It only took a couple minutes today for me to decide that I would be much safer if I worked with him from a distance. I decided to round pen him, but he was so edgy, I was afraid that he might try to jump the 5 foot fence, so I fetched Piper on the theory that she could help me teach him to round pen correctly and that he would be less likely to try to jump the fence if another horse was with him. I turned both horses loose in the front field. Piper's always up for a run and Magic was so wired that the two of them raced and bucked around the pasture for quite a while before I could bring their attention back to me and start directing their movements.
Eventually Magic ran off his edge enough that I was able to draw him back in to me to put the lead rope back on. He was still very nervous, but it was more at a level that I could work with. That's not to say he wasn't spooking, though! He's been pretty tolerant of being desensitized with the stick and string, but today the wind was catching the string and blowing it around. He did not like that!
He also didn't like the wind breaker I was wearing. I'd be rubbing his neck. The wind would catch my jacket and rattle or billow the fabric and he would tense and jump away from me. We did this a number of times, but I think he was slightly less jumpy by the end.
You might ask, "Why didn't you take off your jacket?" It's simple. I don't sneak around my horses. Doing so tends to make them more skittish. The reality is that someday, somebody is going to be out riding this horse on a breezy day and may choose to wear a wind breaker. My job is to make sure that the rider survives the ride. The horse must learn that nothing about the rider's clothing is going to hurt him.
Of the 3 horses currently in training, Sweetheart tolerated the wind the best. I taught her to circle drive today. I would like to see her lead up beside me better. She likes to lag behind and then bolt forward when I ask her to move up. Circle driving followed by leading by the fence will help smooth that out.
Raven also didn't like my wind breaker today. She wasn't nearly as reactive as Magic, though. She just didn't want me to put my arm around her neck to put on the halter, so I ended up just round penning her in the goat pen. It was something I had planned to do with her anyway, so it worked out okay. She was more tolerant of my snapping jacket by the time we finished.