So the other night, I went to the barn but had another appointment afterward, so I ended up with not enough time to ride. It was nearly 70 degrees out here (yes, at the end of January in Maryland, very atypical) so Patrick was caked in mud. I decided I had better groom him before his blanket went back on.
Next, I decided a fifteen minute lunge/ground work session was in order. I like ground work for a change of pace and Patrick seems to like it too. I suspect this is because it works his brain in a different way and it's general less physical than riding.
As I was finishing up, I thought it would be fun to lunge him over a couple of of small obstacles that were already set up in the ring. I aimed him at at 18" high brush jump that was made from three chunks of faux Christmas tree. He trotted up to the brush pile and stopped. I was so confused. Why would he refuse to jump a tiny pile of brush? He has jumped much larger brush filled obstacles before and never cared one little bit. Certainly he wasn't refusing because he was frightened of the obstacle. Was he really that lazy? He had been nice and forward for the rest of the session. It just didn't make sense.
It took me less than a second to analyze the situation and I was about to send him forward when his plan became clear. He reached down, seized the tip of the Christmas tree in his teeth and dragged it out of his path. Then, without any urging, he walked right through the opening he had created in the jump and trotted on as if nothing had happened.
"That's one way to do it." I told him. It was pretty funny. No one can accuse that animal of not having a personality.
As much as I enjoy riding, sometimes it is also nice to take a trip to the barn and not ride. I find a lot of value in just spending time with my horse, caring for him, and in the past few years I really enjoy observing horse behavior. It's no wonder that so many equestrians are horse people for life. There are so many aspects of being a horse person and not just a rider. There are always new things to learn and improve about riding, barn management, nutrition, horse care, training and behavior to name a few.