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Field Trip No. 004 | Paving The Road

In light of the subpar weather and the upcoming event (I use this term as it's not really a show), coupled with Sierra's recent attitude, I decided to haul Sierra to the local indoor today.  I will be boarding her there for a period of time this winter, and it's also where the majority of our clubs local events are held.  She has been there before, but she hasn't been there since our last show in March.  

"I dun wanna"
I don't feel like she's ever really had a 'good experience' there.  Both shows in March were disastrous, so I really felt the need to haul her there a few times before our event on the 24th.  I already know she's going to be a complete goober, but I want to do my best to set her up for success, and the rest is up to her.. as such, I decided to haul her in early to ride followed by a spa treatment.  I timed my trip with the least amount of distractions, knowing the arena would be worked by 8:00 AM, and horses are typically turned out by 9:00 AM.  I had all my tack loaded and the truck hooked up the evening before so that all I had to do was make a coffee, grab a snack and catch Sierra.  Much to my surprise, she was passed out nearby and as a result the time it took to leave went much quicker than expected and I wound up arriving at the arena around 8:40 to find their schedule had changed a little and several horses were still inside as they were slotted to spend some time on the Theraplate before going out to their paddocks.  In a way, I was glad Sierra would have other horses inside but on the flip side I didn't know how she would react to them leaving and her eventually being the only horse in the indoor.  Regardless, I continued about my business, tying Sierra up before packing my belongings inside.

When you roll in lookin' fat ...
During the summer months, there are less than 5 boarders that utilize the facility and very few people haul in.  Typically the arena is filled with the managers, however they are currently out of town for a show and I looked forward to having the arena to myself with the exception of one staff member doing her chores.  I pondered turning Sierra loose in the arena, but I decided against it.  Tip #1 if you don't know much about the Thoroughbred brain; you will not tire them out, do don't even try.  Heeding my own advice, I gave Sierra a quick brush, tacked up and set off to had walk a lap around the arena prior to mounting.

Giant fans make breeze n iz scury
The indoor is very spooky.  There are several items stored along the tin walls (which are very loud when sand hits it), there are cattle chutes and rope boxes, an office, a theraplate that's almost always running, a feed store that is kind of 'hidden', and the steel fence where horses are tied to also acts as a fence for the arena, so if a tied horse paws, pulls back, etc it is very loud.  The roping supplies and Cowboy Challenge items are particularly concerning for a lot of horses, but one thing I can credit to Sierra is that she is rarely [genuinely] spooky of objects.  I hand walked her a lap around the ring, admittedly mostly to stretch myself out, and she paid no mind to much of anything, and upon making it back to the in-gate where the mounting block is located, I hopped on and set off to walk large around the arena.

As I reached the half-way mark of the length of the arena, Sierras ears perked up, her head was sky-high and her pace quickened, yet shortened.  I gathered my reins up to put her on some sort of contact, and wound up spending 10 minutes attempting to establish some semblance of relaxation at the far end of the ring.  I'll admit, it is a 'scary' section of the arena and I did my best to remind myself that i'm on the back of a flight animal so I tried my best to remain relaxed and fluid while we worked through it, and after some time I decided to move on and readdress it later after I get her feet moving a little more.

After some time, I asked Sierra to trot and she promptly swished her tail, swung her butt hard to the right and began to do her best rendition of a sideways passage while snorting and shaking her head, refusing to move forward.  I've become pretty accustomed to riding through her BS so I turned her in a small circle and booted her forward.  She begrudgingly responded appropriately, and I transitioned to walk and repeated my request with a much better response, and over time the ride improved and ended fairly well.  

She was overall quite tense but I felt as though she tried her best to keep her poop in a group and we had a few decent moments.  I spent significant time cooling her out and taking advantage of her slightly tired brain to walk around at the scary end, stopping frequently to shower her in pats and snacks before dismounting and giving her a much needed bath.

Overall I think the trip was a success.  I'm hoping with some more repeat visits she will relax, but only time will tell.  She has been a real bugger lately but I'm learning what works and doesn't work with her, and we're slowly making headway in sussing out the battles that arise.  I'm going to haul in a few more times before the show next weekend and hope for the best.

... and get home looking emaciated. #TBProblems


  1. haha poop in a group - yay I'm glad you had the opportunity to go and school in that very spooky arena!


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