Yesterday Jennifer and I had a “Play Date” with the horses.  Mind you, the chores had to be done first, so we got the stalls cleaned, added fresh shavings, emptied, washed and refilled the water buckets, made some horses pasture rotations, and then went and got Briana… but first…The day before we made bets on who was going to be most excited about the new Jolly Ball we got for the horses to play with… we weren’t too far off, but did get one surprise!

We brought in the studly and dominate Ranger, who we thought would be quite excited to play with the ball – Jennifer started out the introduction mounted (quite brave she is) and when she touched the ball with her foot as they rode beside it… Ranger reacted with his usual ‘spook’ which is a little hop to the side, a snort and then frozen feet.   At liberty we finally did get him to actually take a treat off the top of the ball – but I’m now betting he is going to take a few tries before he realizes the ball is actually for him to play with.  As soon as he figures that out, I’m thinking it will become ‘his’ just like all the mares on the property (despite Wyatt’s protestations).

We didn’t think Briana would be really bothered by the ball at all…  and we were right… but on the other hand, she wasn’t very excited about it either.  Briana doesn’t yet have a big play drive – she is used to working and she wants to work!  She couldn’t quite figure out what her job was as we ran and pushed the ball back and forth across the arena.  So she stood quietly and watched intently.  She would take a treat off the ball no problem, even kick it forward when asked, and let me bounce it off her legs, but she never really got the idea that this might be a fun thing for her to do, not just to please us.

Next was Kiera… our bet was she would come into the arena – immediately start chasing the ball around and even fall on it and roll back and forth.  Well we guessed the first part right that she would take the ball with aplomb, but she also didn’t quite seem to get the idea of the ball being there for her to play with.  She was happy to trot alongside me as I ran panting after the ball from one end of the arena to the other… and the whole while she nodded encouragement… “Come on Mom, you can do it and then we can go get a treat!!”  I guess she was right – she is trying to put on weight and I’m trying to lose it, so…  I think that horse just might be too smart for me…

Now the surprise…  big old Bentley.  The sedate and mostly controlled big guy was very excited to get to play in the arena!  While he never actually ‘played’ by himself with the ball – he would happily move it along with his legs to us and chase the ball beside us… chase being a relative word here, as he just upped the throttle on his big ol’ walk.  At one point, Jennifer was trying to get him to move out a little more, and being the helpful person that I am, I clapped real loud…  Bentley went up in the air and straight at Jennifer… but by the time he hit the ground he was once more in control.  (Sorry again Jennifer…)

We made a decision early on that we weren’t going to moderate our normal comings and goings on the property, and allow the horses to learn that they are safe here.  So despite my many attempts to use the horses to do away with Jennifer, these big bundles of love have chosen self-control and kept us (her) safe.  Maybe it’s the fact that all of them came to us with trail backgrounds where there can be lots of scary things… but we also believe they are great horses, with big hearts and sound minds.