I brought Billy to the indoor ring today so he could roll in some nice dry dirt (which, with his 2″ long winter coat was not as much fun for me as for him). He had a great time. My trainer Karin watched him cavort around and show off for a while, then instructed me how to “play” with him. It’s hard to describe, but it emphasizes working with the horse without him thinking it’s work. She analyzed his gaits, found all the tight, sore, and weak spots, and showed me how to stimulate some areas to encourage his muscles to hold himself up properly. Apparently horses are a lot like people in that they can create problems for themselves by compensating in other areas for the weak muscles.
After we cajoled him into thinking a bit of teasing on the longe line was really fun, it was amazing to see how attentive he was to us, and how calm and relaxed his demeanor was. For his final “performance” Karin had me walk toward him without looking at him, then turn aside and walk away, mentally inviting him to follow. He caught up with me and followed me all the way around the ring like a big dog. I had been thinking the past few days that he seemed rather depressed, having no “job” anymore and nothing to do. Today showed me that he definitely feels better with a bit of attention and playtime. If we structure the play properly, we should be able to get him moving more comfortably and make him feel even better.