Sometimes life’s challenges are so demanding your best pals take a back seat. So it was for Encore! this month of October, 2018. Now, Encore! comes front and center again, and she’s good as gold. Not a shred of disobedience, just a happy girl with a spring in her step and enthusiasm for our walk about.
Most of the afternoon Encore! and her stablemate Daubry enjoyed the freedom from corrals and grazed on the lawn that doubles as a pasture. Ever playful, Encore! chased the chickens, dared the cat and peered in the studio window to get my attention. When I didn’t come out, she nibbled the potted plants and tipped them over for mischievous fun. I always try to give her a time of pure play before I ride. A horse with her energy and intelligence profits from a five acre romp full of interesting things to investigate. Today, after a month of minimal attention, it was particularly important to set her free.
At five o’clock, I put on my boots and set out Encore’s saddle and bridle on the way to her corral. As I approached, Encore! nickered and came to the gate for the handful of rice bran pellets. She shoved her nose into the halter knowing her reward was at hand.
I loosely tied her to the hitching rail and got my flag with deflated helium birthday balloon to see how comfortable she was with the crinkling sound of the tin foil balloon after a month off. To my great relief she was at ease and completely okay with the waving flag and balloon. No more jumping out of her skin on this test.
I brushed her and walked off to the waiting saddle, bridle, helmet and whip. I can’t say enough good things about a helium balloon that is flattened out, noisy and light in the air. I waved the flag and balloon again all over her body and around her head with gusto and she remained unconcerned. I saddled and bridled her easily and led her around to the circle driveway for a review of natural horsemanship circles and backing on command all the time flicking the flag and balloon like a wild butterfly. With Encore! at ease and eager, I figured we would walk around the property to get back into a routine. To my utter amazement Encore! walked calmly through the whole adventure. There wasn’t a moment of refusal or the old nervous response to any of her surroundings! She was a perfect ride. We walked through patterns and halted square. We did leg yield circles and crisscrossed the rough and she stayed focused and happy. Daubry, in desperation for attention, raced around his corral and tried in every way to get her attention but Encore! kept her calm demeanor. I have to say I was stunned with her excellent manner after so many days off. At the end of the forty-five minutes of calm we trotted up the driveway without hysteria and walked on verbal command.
On the circle driveway we halted square and I dismounted with a drop to the ground that keeps my legs tuned. At sixteen hands Encore! keeps me careful on my landing. I lead her over to the small deck off the workshop, untack and put her halter on again. I lead her to the hitching rail outside her corral. I brush her and pick her hooves and reward her with handfuls of pellets. Her happiness is my happiness and the month of desperation dissolves into serenity. Good as gold that’s my Encore!