I was out of town for a few days, so after a brief bareback ride on muddy, wet Thursday during which Steen was so relaxed it was almost comical, he got a number of days off.
Tuesday found me back at the barn with my visiting brother in tow. We went down to the pasture and Steen was so happy to see me he actually came a significant distance, around several obstacles and other horses, to say hi. That was gratifying. What’s not so gratifying is he seems to have picked up some sort of eye infection in my absence, and had lots of goobers streaked down his face. Other than that, he seemed pretty much his usual self, though even fuzzier than when I left.
We took him inside and he was quite good through the grooming experience. In the indoor arena, we started with groundwork and he was extremely responsive and focused at first. But then some of the barn horses got turned out just next to the arena, and were tearing around kicking up their heels, etc. Naturally, this got Steen a little curious/agitated, so we did a little more ground-work and then stopped to watch until the other horses calmed down. Then, I hopped on and started out riding, and my brother (an accomplished photographer) decided to take some photos.
Steen has long found cameras scary. He doesn’t mind them as objects in themselves, but the clicking noises they make when snapping shots freaks him out for some reason, and if a flash goes off, he’s very nearly beside himself. Luckily, Jesse wasn’t using a flash, but he was clicking a lot, so I just let Steen cruise at a trot and get as freaked out as he wanted as long as he didn’t try to lope, and so we had a pretty funny ride. Steen was both nervous about the camera, and very curious, so he’d trot towards Jesse really fast, get as close as he thought was safe, veer away, and then loop back to have another look. By the end, he seemed more relaxed about the whole thing, so that was good. Brian and I will have to continue this with a few more camera desensitization sessions, including one for getting him used to a flash. But for now, this is a start. And Jesse even got a few good photos.
After that, my brother rode, even though Steen was not at all relaxed. I told Jesse just to do walking, or he could cruise at the trot, and warned him the trot would be fast. And it was. Steen sure can move at a trot if he wants to. Luckily, Jesse is an experienced rider and has a good seat, so he could stay relaxed until Steen slowed down. By the end, Steen did so, and was seeming more like his usual self. We untacked him, let him roll and by then he was and ready to get some pets and grain for all his hard work.