I just spent three days at Julie’s, taking an instructor course. Chico was with me, though the first thing I learned about teaching agility (or any dog thing of course) is that it isn’t about my dog. Chico spent a lot of the weekend in a crate while we talked in a classroom setting, or worked with practice students.
I learned a LOT. My head is so full of new information that I can’t even process it enough to talk about it yet. I, for the first time, got to handle dogs besides Chico. And not easy dogs. And Chico got two chances to work with someone else. He didn’t think that was a great idea. One of my fellow students could get Chico’s attention, that was on Friday*. By Sunday when another tried, he was so intent on getting back to me that she was afraid for her rotator cuff and we put him back in a crate.
It was such a mentally tiring weekend that I decided to go for a quick ride at the end of the afternoon. Relaxing for me, Chico could run and run and sniff and roll. Wouldn’t you know it, Dakota spooked at another horse approaching through the woods, managing – for the first time in several years of trying** – to unseat me, and even though I had a death grip on the reins, he got away. I think I let go when he started to drag me. Poor Chico had been behind us, so when Dakota spun around and started for home at a gallop, he was chasing Chico.
I was OK, I pulled out my phone to call the barn owner and say the animals were on the way and I was following behind on foot (of course, she was out of state on a road trip and I didn’t have the number for her daughter who was AT the barn, but we managed). I went back, found Chico had put himself in his crate in the car and was fine. I took Dakota, got on him, and went to repeat and finish the ride. I HAD to get him past that spot that day. Chico was a sport, totally game to go again (thank heaven because I was afraid he’d never try a ride again) – I was happy-happy in my attitude and he didn’t seem to be anything but excited to go for a ride. Until we got into the woods and Dakota started to act up again. Chico was standing in the middle of the trail, looking at us quite dubiously, the last time I saw him on that ride. He must have decided, “No way am I going out there again. She clearly has no control over that thing today and I don’t want it to chase me again,” and he went back to the barn. Now what to do? I knew Chico’d just get back in his crate, the car door and crate door were open, so I went on. I had to get off and lead Dakota around the entire perimeter of the field where “the incident” had happened, he stood at the entrance to that field and stared and snorted and trembled and wouldn’t go forward. So, that accomplished, I was excused from any barn chores and sent home for arnica, ibuprofen, and ice. Which did wonders for me. A little stiffness, but not so bad. And when my neighbors saw me with the ice pack and heard the story, they invited me to share their dinner with them. How kind of them, no?
The next ride will be with someone else to make Dakota calmer, and I will have lots and lots of good treats for Chico and we might even take a different route for now. I need to make my dog happy and confident around the horse again.
And take some pictures for you.
* Working with Lynn on Friday was so hard for Chico that he passed out in the car on the way home, exhausted. He was tired in a way I haven’t seen him tired for a couple years. In the early days of learning at Julie’s, after a breakthrough session, he’d sometimes pass out like that, but it’s just been ages since the last time it happened.
** I say that he has been trying to unseat me for years because if there is ONE THING I can count on with this horse, it is that he WILL, at least once during every ride, shy violently at something. Usually something I can see, but not always. Thank goodness I had all those fancy lessons as a kid, my muscle memory for staying in the saddle is pretty darned good. Most of the time.