............Or a crazy person throwing rocks. I took Wolfie out for a hack this morning. We rode the short distance along the road, past the 'scarey' house and down onto the track. Wolfie was forward going and energetic. He crossed the bridge without hesitating and we had a few nice trots before turning for home. We were approaching the bridge and were maybe 10 feet away, Wolfie was relaxed and forward when someone threw a rock (or more like a boulder) into the river. I couldn't see what or who was there but they were continually throwing rocks into the river, one after the other. The river was high and flowing fast, the noise and splash was loud and echoing. I can only describe it as sounding almost like a gun shot. Wolfie reared straight up, walked backwards while rearing, came down and went straight up again. He then plunged into the undergrowth, panicking, cantering sideways, backwards and leaping forwards. I managed to get him back onto the track and jumped off. I thought if I could lead him close enough that I could see what was happening, I could try and ask the person to stop. Crossing that bridge was our way home. The noise was relentless and by this time Wolfie was even further from the bridge. As I stood next to him every time a stone hit the water every muscle in his body would tremor and he would leap off all four feet. I couldn't get him forward and I was worried he was going to spin and bolt in the opposite direction. I looked at his face and saw his eye. My little horse was absolutely terrified. He looked so babyish and so scared. I felt awful. I couldn't have known this would happen and he wasn't really in any danger, only what he perceived to be danger, but still. I had to try and work out what to do, and how we were going to get home, but firstly I had to get Wolfie out of this situation, give him comfort and take him back to somewhere where he felt safe. I managed to turn him and led him away from the bridge, the noise still echoing around us. At points it was as though he was going to bolt, and then stopped himself. I managed to get back on and we walked back down the track. The only other way home was along the road. I've only ever ridden him this far along the road with another horse, but we had no choice but to do it on our own this time. He felt like a coiled spring, but he settled and walked home bravely along the road with no spooking. His ears were pricked and he seemed quite pleased with himself. Although, he is a spooky little horse, once he's taken fright at something and reacts, he tends then to leave it behind him and carry on. He doesn't get completely wound up, and start fussing or being neurotic. He's not had much luck recently and had a few frights which will have dented his confidence. H. said that it happened to her when she was out riding and J. slipped down onto his knees after panicking. If it's enough to panic J. then it must be pretty scarey. I don't think Wolfie will overreact to this. I'll make sure I hack out with H and J to give him a little support. J is good at being Wolfie's wingman. However, we got through it and I'm sure it can only strengthen our partnership. I fully expected to get home and find he'd knocked or cut himself on one of his legs, the way he had been lunging around, but not a scratch on him. I've just got the Equilibrium stretch and flex training wraps and he was wearing them. They were expensive, but they've already proved their value and that they do provide protection to the legs.
On a more positive note, we've had a good week with one schooling session and some nice hacks. Our gate opening and closing skills are getting better and better. Wolfie takes it quite seriously. You always shut your gate. The boys got their annual vaccinations on Friday and Wolfie managed to let the vet stroke him on the neck. That's real progress!
Wolfie's a funny one. Although he is spooky at some objects, he's also very brave and inquisitive at others. I've seen him stick his head in the drivers window of the lorry which is resurfacing the road next to his field. Smoke billowing every where, the smell of hot tar and loads of noise and a man with a big stop and go sign, not a problem. But ask him to walk across freshly painted white lines on the road and he'll be snorting and spooking. I suppose it comes down to what he perceives as danger.
Buttons is doing great. He makes me smile. He's such a happy pony and so bold and confident. Zoe rode him today and we went out for a walk with H. riding J. Buttons seems to be the only pony J. doesn't scowl at. Buttons was taking 3 strides to every one of J's but he didn't lag behind. He really doesn't realise that he's only 36 inches tall. I'm sure he thinks he's sizes with J.