It wasn't actually raining when I got home tonight, but it was wet. When I say wet, I mean wet.
We have now had several days of rains. These are not the kinds of heavy rains that run off, but the on and off kinds that leave puddles over and over until everything is coated with a layer of water. Where the mud is not getting deep it is slippery--so much so that taking the wheelbarrow to the manure pile (muck heap) was pretty risky, especially with my bad knees. I did a pretty minimal job of stall cleaning as a result, focusing mainly on the stall and runin where Tucker is confined so at least that was nice and tidy.
I did not ride in the watery arena, but I did turn Tucker out there. And I did some free lunging with him, trotting him around me for about 15-20 minutes. He was actually pretty cooperative and made long ovals around me as if he were on an elastic lunge line. I don't know of he was acting out of habit in response to the lunge whip or was actually enjoying my attention and having a reason to stretch his legs. Either way, he was really good and, despite a few bucks and leaps when I tried to reverse him--he galloped past me several times before I could manuever in front of him to ask for a reverse--it was close to a real training session. Since it was in the full sized arena, not a round pen, he could have run off to the far side of the ring at any time, but instead he just kept circling around me.
When, I guess, he'd had enough, he started closing the circle in around me, bringing it in to 10-15 meters, all the while keeping up a nice forward trot. Even when I tried to push him back out with both the whip movement and my body language, he insisted on coming in closer and closer. So, I finally lowered the whip and stopped moving. Almost at once, he stopped too, turned to face me and then just kind of walked in for a pat and some extra special praise.
I left him out for several more hours just to walk around and relax.
I have a potential plan for the winter. Since my riding ring is about 20 meters longer than a regulation dressage ring, and since it has some chronic low spots which tend to stay wet in the far end near the pasture, I don't often ride all the way to that end. I have, stashed in my garage, a portable shed I bought a number of years ago as a kind of emergency run in shed. This is one of those fabric over a metal frame shelters made for horses or to be used as storage areas. I plan to erect it in that end of the ring as a run in.
This is kind of a two fold idea. First, if it's muddy like this, I can turn Tucker out there during the day and he will have shelter, something I consider quite important. Normally, he and the other Boys have the two run in roofs and their stalls, but there is no way to set it up so that anyone turned out in the ring can get back to the barn. This way, he could have a nice little place to hang out should it rain when I am not home.
The second part of the idea is that, for some reason, that corner of the ring is often where the little herd wants to shelter when there is a storm. Now, with the new run in shed on the west side of the barn, they have been going there a lot more, but this would also give them another place to go in case of bad weather instead of standing outside with snow and icicles hanging off them.
Then again, since the portable would only take up one corner of the ring, they could still hang out there outside with snow and icicles hanging off them if that's what they wanted to do.
All I need now is a pair of strong young men--my friends two sons if possible--to get the shelter up for me.
I also needed some hay to tide me over the weekend. Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US, and, as it turns out, my hay supplier next door is taking a long weekend break. I did managed to stuff seven bales in my little car tonight just before they closed. Apparently, someone else is coming to get hay tomorrow, so I too may manage to get seven more bales on the way home from school--half day due to the upcoming holiday. But, I will have to hurry as I need to get home so I can trailer Tucker over to see my vet.
Busy day ahead.