I had a lesson on Sunday and due to the chilly windy conditions outside we found ourselves with quite a few visitors in the indoor. It was just after our lesson so we were done, but he was a little sweaty so I planned on cooling him off inside before taking him out into the wind and cold. As I watched him perk up and eye every horse that came in, I thought this is perfect we will see how he behaves around new horses.
All in all 4 other horses joined us inside. One he had seen before, a pretty chestnut, with a nervous rider. We had made her nervous a few weeks back while we practiced a test. Dexter's animated canter was making a little too much noise for her horse to handle. Needless to say she was more nervous with all the horses coming into the arena.
We sat and talked with Trainer for a while and Dexter politely watched the other horses as they walked by. Every now and then he would try to drift away to get a closer look but he wasn't over zealous about it. Everyone just walked around, I had hoped someone would get the courage to trot or canter so I could gauge how Dex would do with someone coming up on him, but no such luck.
We just walked lazily around, then it happened. OH MY GOD!!! There is a jacket on the bench!! There wasn't a jacket there before, it must be an evil predatory jacket that can appear out of thin air! Must spin and try to run away!! Wait! Now I can't see the jacket, it could be trying to attack me right now! Must spin around keep an eye on it! Oh no, too scary to look at, now I can't see it ... OH WHAT TO DO!?!
That was obviously Dexter's internal monologue. Mine was more like "What the hell! Where are you going? What are you looking at? The jacket?!? Seriously?!"
So he settled on standing, well jigging, perpendicular to the jacket so he could make a snap decision as to whether or not he needed to run at any point. I found it amusing and tried to get him to calmly walk towards the coat but couldn't get him to budge. We were about 20 feet from it at this point. I think I could have gotten him closer but could see the nervous rider watching me, her horse could care less at this point. I thought about all the possibilities and with all the people in the arena decided it would be best to introduce Dexter to the jacket by getting off and leading him over.
If it had just been us, I would have pushed my luck a little more, but I didn't want my idiot horse spooking another horse and getting someone else hurt. And I could tell the nervous rider was seriously doubting my ability to control my horse, and to be fair, I wouldn't disagree with her. So I got off, walked him over. He made a big deal out of it until we got about 5 feet away, then he was over it. Ohhhh... its just a regular, non-moving, non-horse eating jacket. I even flapped the sleeves around a bit.... nothing.
I got back on (because Dexter is too smart and has already learned that he can scare me out of making him work) and walked around some more. The jacket was no longer a threat.
So I think this was a good test for this weekend. I now know he should be relatively ok in the warm-up ring with other horses. But I will however have to be on the look out for rouge jackets. I wonder if the judge would mind if I asked her not to change clothes, move anything or move at all for that matter. :)