My nephew Z came out Friday evening with his lab Zoie. She got to run and play in the yard and pasture until it was time to bring the horses home, then got tied up, as she's never seen a horse before. They've seen a lot of dogs and are generally unconcerned, but I didn't want her getting kicked. We figured an introduction on leash would go better.
Anyway, walked over and retrieved the ponies. Z's never been around horses - he's excited to learn, though. He led Rufus back, and we tied Amyra and Rufus up. I soaked Amyra's foot while my mom showed Z how to brush Rufus. (Amyra popped a small abcess earlier in the week, and I've been soaking it nightly in warm water, epson salts & betadine.)
After Amyra was done, she went back in, and I pulled Sunny out. Rufus thoroughly enjoys being brushed, and hadn't so much as twitched while Z brushed him. After a quick brush-off for Sunny, we saddled them both. I thought I'd picked a saddle that would work for Z, but realized I'd mis-judged the length of his legs pretty badly. He's 13, but not tall - I couldn't get the stirrups high enough. He hadn't brought any boots, either, but I did make him put a helmet on.
With my mom on Rufus to demonstrate, and me coaching he spent probably an hour walking Sunny around. I laid the ground poles out and they walked over and around them. Sunny was SO good.
He listened, turned, stopped, all with his ears pricked and without a bobble. Towards the end, Z really wanted to try trotting, so at that point we did switch saddles to one with shorter leathers. I clipped the longe line on Sunny and Z gave it a shot.
He actually did pretty well, and was starting to get the hang of it, but I could tell he was also starting to get a little sore - Sunny, too I think. (Sunny doesn't have the smoothest trot, and Z was doing a fair amount of bouncing.) We called it a night, the ponies got a skiff of grain for being so good and we headed up to finish the evening with Smores.
Of course, Sunny being Sunny had to follow up his stellar evening with a morning reversion to his 2 year old days. There were storms blowing in, and all four of them were on their toes when we went down to feed. The other three were minding their manners, but Sunny was convinced that there was SOMETHING in the trees behind us that was going to get him, and he didn't want be last in line as we walked over to the south pasture.
By the time we got to the creekbed crossing, I was pretty sure there was no way I was navigating successfully across with two horses, and since Rufus was still behaving himself I waited until my mom and dad had Amyra and Thunder down and through, warned them, and let Rufus go to take himself over.
Which of course made Sunny even more frantic. We spent several fraught moments going around and around in the bottom of the creekbed, me determined that he was NOT going to charge up the bank, and him just as determined that he was. I won. Mostly.
By this point, Sunny's twitichies had communicated themselves to Thunder who was also behaving like a twit. My dad had Rufus and Amyra - still sane - through the gate and unhaltered by the time we had the other two idjits half the rest of the way to the gate. Sheesh!
Once loose, they ate about two bites, then took off as if we'd lit a brush fire under their tails. They spent the next five minutes rocketing around the big pasture as fast as they could go, bucking and kicking and caroming off one another like pinballs. It was quite the sight to see.