Sophie and I were getting harassed by flies of all makes and sizes. Suddenly there seemed to be a calm in the storm of bugs. I looked around; the sudden lack of bugs seemed uncanny. A sentinel of mini-helicopters had been sent to protect us. Actually, there were 10 or 15 dragonflies hovering around us. They only looked like helicopters. I wondered if I could recruit them for my needs at will. Well, maybe not. But perhaps (Lord willing) I can help Sophie become someone’s willing partner.
True confessions: I neglected to tell you everything about day one with Sophie.
My round pen is getting a little bit dilapidated. It’s old. Some of the wood is rotten, so temporarily I patched it. I was hoping it would look substantial enough to a horse. And in general, it worked, especially with horses that have been in the round pen frequently. I didn’t think about how new recruits tend to look for a way out on their first experience in the pen. I never had a horse escape unless a gate blew open, which has only happened a couple of times.
There was a hole in this dilapidated fence. It was only a little more than about 3′ x 3′ and it was over a rail about 2 1/2 feet above the ground. I’ve never noticed it as a possible escape route. But one of the times past that hole Sophie leaped over the bottom rail and through the hole neat as neat, clean through, she never even touched a rail. She ran out to join her friends in the bigger pasture.
I didn’t want to leave her out too long so I did a quick repair and caught her again. We went through the rest of the training with the results I described yesterday.
When we commenced our second day of training I could see that she was on the lookout for weakness in the fence and sure enough within 5 minutes she hit the same spot that was freshly but insufficiently repaired. She broke it all to pieces. I dropped everything else and went into the woods with chainsaw in hand and did some logging and cutting, and pulled in some ash and aspen poles.
I didn’t get back to Sophie until about 8:00 PM, and then she was really looking for escape holes. She didn’t find any. And so we continued our second day of training. I think she was wilder in the pen then I have seen before, frantic to find a way out. Finally, she settled down to trotting and acting like a regular horse. She received the saddle a couple of times from both sides. Then I took off the saddle and jumped on. I had a rope halter and a lead rope attached to the halter on both ends. Of course, she knows nothing about cues or what the pulling on her nose is supposed to mean.
After standing for a couple of minutes, as I was trying to loosen her up from the ground where she stood awkwardly resolute, she burst straight ahead toward the fence where she had escaped earlier in the day and then stopped again. With lots of coaxing, she was finally able to turn both ways and move forward a little.
So ended the second day of training.