With his shoe firmly attached to his foot, Bar had a riotous time blowing off steam last night. He bounced, he bucked, he reared--and boy, did he roll.
He also listened fairly well, despite having way too much energy for his own good.
Today was even better.
Steve was getting Lena ready to ride, and Bar and I headed down for the round pen. Peter was riding Rio, a horse he is training. I asked if it was okay to bring Bar in and Peter being Peter said, "Probably not, but go ahead." Which in Peter-talk means he'd deal with whatever happened.
Knowing Bar takes his cues from me and my energy, I took a deep breath and slowed way down. We meandered around to the inside entrance and waited there until Peter and Rio came around by the gate. Both Rio and Bar started a little, but I let Bar settle and watch a little before opening the gate to go into the arena.
We got to the round pen without incident on our part, though Rio was not sure about the intrusion and there was a scuffle or two as Peter corrected some aspect or another of Rio's reaction.
I started with some body work, actually--using some of Jack Meagher's pressure points and techniques to treat some of Bar's more chronically sore areas. Bar submitted to this for the most part, though kept a wary eye on the actions outside the round pen.
Once he seemed focused enough, I sent him out at a trot, then got a beautiful, balanced, canter out of him. It absolutely lovely to watch him have freedom and lightness in front because he was driving from his hindquarters instead of pulling himself along with his front end. There was a spontaneous happy dance on my part, I admit it.
Then he heard Steve and Lena head in and Rio get excited, which created a bit of a ruckus and meant Bar had to show off a little. The head went up, the tail went up, the snorting began. However, when I raised my arm from the inside of his big, bouncy circle, he came dancing in and stood next to me. Amazing. I could see and feel his heart pounding--his body twitching with every beat, his eyes wide. And yet, he simply stood there, blowing a little, but just watching and checking in with me.
That pattern repeated a few times--Bar working nicely, reacting to one of the other horses acting up and coming in to me to check in, then settling back into his exercise.
After all was said and done, he got a good work out and proved once again that crazy Thoroughbreds can indeed make progress if you just give them time and patience.
Of course, it does help to have people around who are willing to handle their own horses.