Last night when I went to work Top he was a total froot loop. He really struggles at the stable in town. The closer we got to the arena the more erect he became. Very tall, and very rigid in his posture. He even halted a few times in worry.
I realized he could see what was going on in the arena long before I could. Wannabes, rhythm ropes, horses faces cranked to their chests and other assorted horsey horrors. I swear the other horses were telling him, "Run away, you don't want to come in here. This is what they do to you, it's horrible, it's scary, it hurts."
The last time we'd worked in the arena he got a scare as soon as we entered. I saw a woman on her mounting block close to the nearest gate, so we went to the main double gate that was open to enter. I'm leading him in. We get about 15-20 feet from the woman on the mounting block. She goes to get on. She apparently hadn't fastened her cinch snug enough. The saddle spun as she was starting to swing a leg over. She has her spur hooked in her gelding's hip, trying to salvage/lever her way on. Scares the living crap out of Top, he's watching this, very erect with a look of horsey horror on his face. When she hit the ground tangled in the saddle and drawreins...he hopped backwards about 12 inches...all four feet in unison, neck arched looking at her.
Now, I'm a tad worried. This is not a young woman. She's 70 something. She works herself free...her horse has not moved a muscle this entire time. (I love her horse, young paint gelding. A true sweety, and a gentleman). She can't right the saddle. So, I have her hold Top while I loosen the girth a bit and shove it back into position, and snug it up. The young gelding never moved. He's a real trooper. I look over to her and Top. Top is standing with all four perfectly square, he has his body bowed away from her, head up, broke at the pole and cocked watching her very carefully. I'm hoping she doesn't move....just stands until I can get ahold of him. He was very unsure of her, and looked spring-loaded.
We go about our business. I lunge him...he goes decently. He watches/looks for her and the gelding often. But goes well enough. I'm about to get on, and more people enter, kids bonsai-ing around...I figured we were done for the day. As we are exiting the arena the woman is by her stall (about 30 feet from us) starting to dismount. She does it again, spins that saddle under the gelding's barrel and hits the ground. (I think, 'Oh just f*#k me'). She gets up, comes toward us saying, "I'm going to need you to fix that saddle again, I know I can't get it." Grabs Top's line. So I go over and fix the saddle again.
I'd made this big statement about a week before about how I wasn't going to be scooping her up off the arena anymore yadda yadda yadda. (Yeah big talk little white woman). Hey, I've know her for twenty years, she's always been nice to me. We may not see eye to eye on training techniques, but she is a nice woman, and I have to give her credit...she's still doing all this stuff. And she is my elder. There are things that are just ingrained into you that never leave, and respect for your elders is apparently one.
Last night he was a loon. Any canter depart on the lunge was a semi bolt...half the time both hinds together. Canter was terrible, lateral (left hind, and left front traveling in unison) and pronky. Assorted spooks, hops and little panic attacks. I'm thinking great, I am going to die tomorrow.