There was a rhythmic whirring sound coming from the other side of the round pen wall and Bar noticed. The air hummed, then suddenly there was a crack as the loop of the lasso hit the target--a cone in this case.
The big brown ears were in constant motion, as was the big brown horse. Moving, moving, moving, always tracking that sound, speeding up past it each loop around the round pen. Worse when the sound was on his right
He did not panic, he did not bowl me over in an effort to escape the odd noise. He came with me to investigate, white showing around his eyes, ears pricked forward, jaw tense. We peeked over the edge of the round pen at the rope flying around and out from Katie's friend's hand, thwacking the cone as it wrapped around it.
Bar positioned himself parallel to the wall, left side towards the lasso, with me between it and his silly self. I patted and soothed since he was exhibiting behavior I approved of--meaning not bouncing over me in abject terror--and inched us closer to the noises and flurry of the whirling rope. Still safely inside the round pen, mind you.
Remember how I resolved to be sure I was introducing new things to him more regularly? I think this counts.
When we were done with our ground work, we exited the safety of the round pen and headed towards the origin of the rope twirling. There was much trepidation. More big eyes, more blowing. He knew EXACTLY where that rope was.
We gave him time and space to walk up to the terrifying rope on his own. (I did have to touch it first.) He sniffed, and let it rub his nose with only minor consternation.
He doesn't want me to tell you he was certain it was following him up the hill back to his paddock, though. He tried really hard not to dance all the way back up there, but it was an effort for him.
We may not ever be able to rope together, but I think he did a good job tonight and I told him so.