Today Tony hit the road with Ricky. In this last few weeks he has really made a lot of progress and mentally matured a ton. We had a bunch of cold, wet, windy weather and Tony did some major growing up while fighting weather and getting help from me. Over a 4 day period we got about a third of our annual average rainfall at about 33 degrees, very hard weather for horses to fight. As that cold rain fell for so many days I kept the horses in the barn for a large part of those days. Our barn is made up of tie-stalls, so a night in the barn is a night of being tied… quite the learning experience for young horses. The calm and appreciative energy from the older horses all around him helped him to figure out to just get warm, eat and enjoy the dry barn. Once the rain became more sporadic I kicked everyone out but put on blankets. I don’t think Tony had ever worn a blanket before but I moved his feet a bit and threw the blanket over him like he had been doing it his whole life and though he was a little apprehensive he worked hard to trust and understand. I had been flagging him a lot, preparing him indirectly for this for over a month so it wasn’t a big surprise that he thought through it and “accepted” the blanket. For a young horse like Tony, wearing a blanket was more about the education he would get from carrying that noisy thing that followed him everywhere than about protection from the weather. He truly did carry himself into the barn differently the next day when I brought everyone in to take off blankets, he had a new level of understanding and seemed proud of himself.
Tony has also reached a place where he truly enjoys the human. When we first got him it took a bit of talking him into being with me, he was just that green. Now, from quality (and a little bit of quantity) time together he will come from quite a ways away in the pasture to come to me. I really believe that a mind frame like that is huge for the foundation of having a good riding horse. Keeping that frame of mind, once Ricky really gets to working him and asking things of him it will be much harder for Tony, but I do think he has a strong foundation that should carry over once its not all fun and games.