On Sunday Tony very kindly drove me out to pick up a trailer load of hay, drove me and the trailer back to the paddock and helped me stack, cover and tie down 50 bales of hay. We then went and shot some bunnies for his cat, Dave, who adores them and I got to play with the .22 and the shotgun. Wicked.
On Monday I went out to the paddock only to find that my dear Harry had managed to find a spot to get under the tarp and had eaten roughly half a bale of hay. I fixed that gap, removed the half a bale to the small shed we use for convenient hay access and picked up twice as much poo as usual.
On Tuesday I went out to the paddock and found Harry had moved some of the pallets I had leaned against one side of the stack and had demolished another half a bale of hay. I used the remains to stuff a hay net and tied the pallets to each other, the stack and the tarp.
Today I went to the paddock and found Harry had managed to pull one of the covering tarps halfway off and had demo'd another bale of hay, somehow managed to knock some of the top bales off the stack, and re arranged the pallets. I used all the twine from the recently demo'd bales to tie the tarps, pallets, and hay bales to each other and crossed my fingers that it's all over now, right? After all, I may never be able to get in there again myself! Fortunately, in his cheerful consumption of my winter hay supply, Harry has made the stack just small enough that the tarps cover it much more easily.
He has still been begging me for more dinner through all of this.
At any rate, I figured with the quantities of food he has eaten lately he really needed some exercise, so I tacked up and off we went. Harry has decided that the best warm up is to walk up the grass verge on the side of our road until he can cross over and say hi to the mare in the paddock at the end. Going along with this is a much easier way to get him loosened up and moving forward than having a fight with him over going the other direction. He has this whole passive aggressive thing going on where he doesn't really DO anything... but he makes it a lot of hard work and likes to drift closer to the trees and swipe me with branches. Brat.
So I lined him up next to the bank, stepped up, swung my leg over... and as I settled in the saddle we were facing a hundred eighty degrees the other way and moving off at a sedate but purposeful walk. Oh dear. I may have to work on this.
We went to the end of the road, said hi to the mare and came back again, then across the main road, around the corner and down towards the equestrian center. Harry is feeling so much better on his bare feet that he insisted on walking on the tarmac today, rather than on the grass. This is fantastic, except when there is traffic on the road as well. Harry is of the opinion that the traffic will get out of his way and shows no concern for cars, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, tractors, motor homes, 12 tonne diggers, etc. The only thing of any concern to him were the bags of sheep poo being sold as fertilizer as a fundraiser for the rowing club. We had to stop and stare at those for some time before moving off.
Approaching the Equestrian Center we caught sight of a bay horse cantering around a jump course. Harry was enthused and wanted to meet this new friend and it took some urging on my part for him to continue past this horse to the gate. I managed to open the gate from horseback (whoop whoop!) but was concerned it wasn't open quite far enough, being jammed on a pile of fallen leaves, so I jumped off and led Harry through, closed the gate and remounted (from the ground, with no helpful slope! Go me!!) At this point we set off at an even more purposeful walk back towards where he had seen the other horse. I let him explore the grounds for a while (the other horse had moved on, Harry was most disappointed) and he trotted over poles and and up to a makeshift dressage arena. This had poles marking the edges and markers around the edges. He appeared to recognize it because he wandered around to 'A' and trotted the most perfectly straight center line I have ever had from him. I sat still with my hand on the buckle and my mouth gaping open in surprise.
After that he appeared to loose interest in dressage and went to explore the drainage ditch. We marched right up to it... and popped over. He must have enjoyed that because we came back to the same place no less than three times and did the same. After which I decided it was time for some real work and we did some huge trot circles, working on having him move off my leg and lower his head without sticking his nose out, and a little bit of canter. More for fun on that one, it makes us both happy :)
From there we headed over to the gate again, I unlatched it from the saddle and gave it a push. Harry thought it hadn't gone far enough and proceeded to give it a few shoves with his nose before walking through. Clever boy :) I did have to do some convincing on getting close enough to close the gate again from the other side though.
A cruisey walk home again with some small trot and canter moments. We are getting good now at spotting places that might be good for some speed. If I feel his energy come up I can either leave my reins on his neck, in which case he remains walking, or pick them up and cluck and he moves off at a trot or canter quite relaxed and happily. Why are our transitions never this good in an arena??
Un tacking him at home again I realized he hadn't even broken a sweat! Wait, when did my horse get fit without me?? He's in a winter coat and I'm in a t-shirt! I'm confused...
All in all, a very good day and I have my fingers crossed that my hay will still be safe tomorrow.