So, as you may rememeber from last winter, I often pony horses when its nasty and disgusting and awful outside.
I like all of my horses to know how TO pony, and how to BE ponied.
I figure its a useful skill and when its too cold to take off blankies, I'll often hop on one, pony another, then swap. We're all still learning, but its not a very stressful workout and can be done in the uckiest of weather.
It usually takes some plotting to figure out who will pony well with each other, how fast they walk, mares vs. geldings, those who neck rein, those who reliably move away from leg, those who only direct rein and will require a horse that is experienced ponying.
Today was an easy choice. Belle and Vanna both needed some exercise, they live in the same pasture and they're both S.L.O.W.
Belle is usually steady eddy, requires a pony club kick to move her up into her slowest jog and does way better with "woah" than "go." I wasn't sure if I'd ever ponied off of her before, and I didn't think Vanna had ever been ponied, so decided I'd ride the red head first since she had the height advantage. Of course, since I'm brilliant, I just picked feet, clipped reins to Belle's halter and jumped on right over her blanket. Bareback, yes. Always smart to teach a horse how to pony with no tack on, isn't it?
At least I was wearing a helmet.
No, nothing tragic happened, in case you're hoping for a story of bronc busting and craziness. We had a nice walk around the pasture, Vanna actually walked faster than molasses (although not MUCH faster than molasses, since if Vanna is slow as molasses, Belle is only slightly faster... maybe moves the same speed as honey?) and the girls did very well together. They even seemed to enjoy getting out to stretch their legs.
And then... we saw the newly-formed "creek" that was run off from the big hill we'd just traipsed down.
Let me explain for a moment that since we have no shelter in our pastures, many of our horses wear "combo" blankets- blankets that cover them from ears to tail. From EARS to TAIL. Meaning their MANE in hidden under a layer of 600 denier nylon, 200g of warming fill and a lovely liner. So when someone riding BAREBACK encounters an obstacle that MAY cause a horse to LEAP straight up and over, one MAY worry just a little, since they have nothing to grab onto.
Nope, nothing tragic happened there, either. Belle just slogged across the water like it was her job.
But as we crossed the creek, Belle turned her head, evvvvver so slightly to the left. She didn't spook. Just... noticed... something.
Vanna, ever the blond, just traipsed along in her own world. (Sounds just like her mom, doesn't it?!)
So, I looked at whatever it was that Belle was looking at. And I saw THIS:
Mmmm...hmmm.... not an EMU, this time, but Blue Heron. Peacefully perched about five feet from where Belle was walking. I looked at him and said "Hi Mr. Heron man, could you please just stay sitting down until we're WAAAAAAY over there?"
He nodded in agreement, waited until we were about... two feet in front of him... and did THIS.
Jerk. I all but threw myself around Belle's neck, hoping when she did something ridiculous I could stay ON long enough to remedy the situation.
And what did she do?