Junior survived without me but gave me the silent treatment and was REALLY mouthy trying to see what was in my hands. I have signs on his stall asking people to not give him treats, but I'm not sure it's working. I think I need to make more signs that explain WHY so that people who think it's "mean" not to give horses treats will know I have my reasons. He stopped being mouthy when he hadn't been getting treats by hand. I will put them on his ledge from outside of his stall and he can take them from there, but he does not get treats by hand, ever.
I rode him last night after watching part of a lesson he was in. He really is VERY good for the novices. He packs around with a very pleasant look on his face. The only "bad" thing he does (if the rider doesn't know enough to prevent him from doing it) is that he will beeline himself over to say hello to one of his horse buddies and he's not very cautious or polite about it. The only "bad habit" he's gotten (someone asked me if he was getting any) is that when I get on I need to quickly establish 2 things: A) When I ask for Whoa you WHOA (he sticks his nose out and drags his feet for the lesson kids) and B)No, you may not pack around like a giraffe, you will lift your back and relax your neck. He does not fight me on either of these, I've just discovered that if I start the ride with those two reminders he's great the rest of the ride.
Since TJ gave me her nutrition project packet, I've been trying to make a decision on what to do about his feed. Her evaluation showed he is currently getting 30% more digestible energy than he needs....no wonder he's fat! Now, as you know, I am not rolling in the dough, so in addition to making decisions about what is best for Junior, I must try to get the most out of my money. So yesterday I had an epiphany...
My latest Epiphany is that I dropped his feed from a full scoop to 3/4 scoop sometime (I didn't write down the date) between August 19th and September 6th when he started SmartCalm. Considering the 3/4 scoop (combined with his forage) is 30% more digestible fiber than he needs, the full scoop was even MORE energy than he needs. I'm wondering if the change in his attention span is more a result of the decreased energy than the inclusion of the SmartCalm. He is not deficient in any of the ingredients of SC. TJ and I will be working out a plan that I will start implementing in the New Year. Why wait? Well, TJ's project was based on samples and rations including his pasture time, which being December is not the same as it was when the grass was growing. So we're taking her project and we'll be extending the research to include a cost analysis of the feeds she determined were good choices, and a ration that is accurate for the winter. Plus I'll be gone soon for 2 weeks over Christmas and new grain means I have to pre-measure and pre bag and it'll take some time to slowly switch the feed over.... another month won't kill him, even if I am the Overanxious Horse Owner.
I rode him again today and since we had the arena to ourselves we worked on some hard stuff: pattern prep for Equitation and Horsemanship classes. I can do stops and pivots and lots of gait changes along the rail, but when I start moving around the middle of the arena he gets excited. When I ask him to stop he dances around and chomps at the bit. My goal each time is to wait until he is standing calm and square before asking him for another cue. I just try to stay calm and patient with him. I'm sure I need to ride him without a rail more often, but when my riding time is during lessons that is often where I have to stay.
I ordered a cooler, by the way. I had a coupon in the last Dover catalog for their Rider's contour cooler at $29.90. That's the cheapest I've found and the reviews on it were good. Here's the link to the cooler at the coupon price, if you're interested.