Small Yappy Dog Alert

Baron has managed to re-injure himself with the first 5 minutes of being back in the pasture. They cut down a tree in the pasture last week and cut the tree into logs which were left lying on the ground until they could be hauled out later in the week. This was a huge pile of logs, mind you, not easily missed. But my horse galloped full speed ahead into the middle of this pile and proceeded to tap dance on top of the logs trying to free himself. In trying to escape, he got tangled up in the fence and cut his chest as well as re-opening the cut on his leg. So it’s back into the barn for Baron. More stall rest until his leg wound has closed up again. (I spent Sunday hauling the logs out of the pasture with lots of help from my barn friends, so that danger has been removed.)
It mystifies me that he would run right into the log pile. None of the other horses got anywhere near it. It’s like he has no common sense about how to be a horse. He has spent the vast majority of his life in a stall, being let out for exercise only. I guess he never learned some of the things regular horses learn early on, like what he should and should not try to walk on. I have to laugh that he is terrified of harmless mud puddles but tried to tap dance on the log pile. Hopefully he will start to get a better idea of what is truly dangerous and what it’s okay to step on.
So, on to the point of this post, the yappy dog. Since Baron can’t go back in the pasture yet, I have to hand walk him every day. Last night we set out on our usual route down the gravel road where we have encountered small yappy dogs on numerous occasions. Last night, however, one of these dogs was loose and came charging at us. I saw the dog coming and turned Baron around, but the dog kept coming. He was jumping and yapping and Baron got a little freaked out. His first tendency is to walk as close to me as possible when something scares him. His second tendency is to bolt. I did not want the latter to happen, but I didn’t know if I was going to be able to hold him. This is another situation where ground work paid off in a big way. I was able to hold onto him even though he was doing a little dance, and get him to stop moving his feet. He was still tossing his head and acting very jumpy, but he did stop moving and I was able to gain control again. By the time the dog’s owner had the dog under control, Baron was already standing still. We were able to walk back to the barn calmly and quietly. I think the groundwork paid off in the sense that he listened to me when I said “Whoa” and believed me when I reassured him that the dog was nothing to get excited about. He could easily have high-tailed it back to the barn without me.
I’m sure a lot of people would say that I have more horse than I can safely handle. If it weren’t for the groundwork, that would probably be true. Groundwork is what will enable me to control my horse and help him become calm, confident, reliable, and safe.

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