Those of you following on my Facebook page are familiar with the Big Red Ball. Here is more to the story since I am not limited by the constraints of a Facebook page.
Great new barn has another super cool feature. On Sundays in the winter (while the fields are closed), they have this thing called "Sunday Run Day" which, just as it sounds, allows for free runs. The corners of the ring are roped off and everyone has a time slot to come and give their horse a roll and a run in the indoor. When you are the proud owner of a 4 year old half TB, this is the best thing ever invented. It may have saved me from complete anarchy and a lot of pain and suffering. SBG does lunge now fairly well except when he decides to go a different direction. BUT, he does not lunge down. Like ever. He will run in circles ad nauseum until I am dizzy and he is more worked up than when we started. See, I had a Friesian mare who, after two laps of the ring was exhausted. It was not until she was older and had been ridden daily for years that she had enough stamina to complete a PSG test. Even at the end, by day 3 of a show it was tough to get her through it. But SBG channels his TB side and not his Friesian side when it comes to stamina. I am grateful for the TB side as it will be extremely useful in the future but for now it is sometimes a bit difficult to manage. Regardless, lunging is not useful for him to get his energy out.
What was useful was Sunday Run Day. Every Sunday he went in the ring, had his roll then let 'er rip.
You will notice at some point the SBG received a clip. In fact he received 3. He is the best horse to clip. Even better than Miss H, who decided one day, after the clippers got a bit hot, that her right hind was from now on going to be clipped with the small clippers. This is not easy when you have thick, coarse hair. SBG never even twitches. As a result, SBG lost increasingly more hair as he was taking too long to cool out. I like the blanket clip a lot. Although it is taking forever to shed out. His back stayed warm but the warm parts stayed cool. I recommend this clip.
Back to Sunday Run Day. After a few weeks we realized there was a Big Red Ball outside the ring in the storage area. Once we found out we were permitted to use it as long as no Big Red Balls were injured, into the ring it went.
And it happened for kind of a long time. He wanted nothing to do with the Ball. The Big Ball. The Big Red Ball. The Big Red Scary Ball. technically, the last sentence is way beyond grade 1 reading levels for teaching purposes. But if you have made it this far then I will assume you are well beyond that.
I had to halter him to get him near the Ball. Once I was attached and led him to the Ball he suddenly realized the Ball was not evil.
By the end of day one, he was playing with the Ball.
A few weeks go by. He is still wary of the Ball when he sees it in the storage area beside the ring. One day it rolls out during a wind storm into his line of vision and he snorts at it. I decide to roll it back into the ring.
He remembers it! He wants to play with it! Kind of.
And then this happens. He loves the Ball. The Ball is his friend. The Ball is where he wants to be. The Ball is THE place to be. He only wants to be with the Ball.
He does not really continue to play with the ball much. Which is fine since his Uncle Kanje is not permitted to have the Ball as he immediately starts playing so rough with it that it will pop. He has popped balls before, they do not last around him. Fortunately SBG is gentle with the Ball and runs some tests (what does Ball taste like?), but does not hurt the Ball. By the end of day 2 with the Ball we are bored. Both of us are no longer interested in the Ball and it goes back into storage.
What have I learned about my horse? He is a bit overwhelmed by new things. His initial reaction is strong and I should be prepared for some panic behaviour. But once he understands, he completely changes and relaxes. He also sometimes needs help to get over his anxiety. Once I was attached, he went up to the Ball quickly and determined it was not about to eat him. The Ball then became his friend and he chose to hang out with the Ball at every opportunity.
Except the mounting block. The mounting block has never bitten him, chased him or injured him in any way. It is fine to get on at the mounting block. It is fine to hang out at the mounting block. It is not fine to go past the mounting block and worse depending on how fast you are going. It is only the mounting block in our indoor so far. Mounting blocks away from home and in the outdoor are fine. I would be happier if we could get over the mounting block issue.