Had a blast yesterday with Bruce and Hunter! It's been awhile since I rode one of the Fells and played with the other, but I've been thinking that this might be a good fit for Hunter and Bruce. Poor Bruce always seems so bored by the idea of being ridden by himself. I'm sure it is boredom, but I expect there is a lack of confidence involved, too. That will need to be addressed, but in the meantime, I thought it might help him to have a job while being ridden, as well as the novelty of involving another horse. From Hunter's viewpoint, I hoped the experience would also be confidence giving and give me a chance to play from up above him.
I brought them both in and groomed them together. There was some hay in the pen, and Bruce was intent on a) eating it and b) NOT SHARING. I didnt make a big deal out of it, just spread it out so Hunter could get at it. Usually when I put Hunter in the pen before playing with him he is pretty unconfident about being in there by himself - less so if the herd happens to stay nearby. It didn't seem to make a big difference to him that Bruce was there. More a matter of "I want to be out there on the track because that's where I usually am, and this is not normal." How interesting.
Then it was time for lunch for humans, so we did that, and I sat wondering exactly how I was going to do this. I figured that I would take them both to the playground, let Hunter loose for awhile while I warmed up with Bruce and then somehow collect Hunter and go forward with the two of them. However, I decided to tack Bruce up in the yard, and once I had led the two of them into the playground it just seemed natural to play with both of them online together. This had it challenges, but it was great rope handling practise for me and worked out okay.
I walked around for ages just playing friendly game with the stick and string and letting them follow me, making left and right turns. Eventually this flowed into some Driving games and Yo-yos. The Circle Game was hilarious. Bruce was s-l-o-w and Hunter rather fast, and if I tried to chase Bruce a little Hunter got scared and panicked. However, I think this was a good friendly game for him as Bruce and I were so unbothered and I was laughing. He got better with it after awhile and they managed some half decent circles. During our walks and trots around I managed to set it up so that Hunter had to go over some low jumps. That was a first for him - I think he just trotted them, but it was a great start. We also did some squeezes with the fence.
So I took them over to the pedestal and got them arranged in the "ride and lead" position and hopped on Bruce. (Once I got him off the pedestal.) As I expected he was much more light and willing than usual when we started moving. I had been working on Hunter synchronising with him while I was still on the ground by putting Hunter's rope over Bruce's saddle and working him from the far side of Bruce, so things went really well. I started off with lots of turns to the inside, as this created a lot of disengagement for Hunter, which he needs. We rode around for awhile, just having fun. Tried some back-ups, but it's hard to keep Hunter straight - he wants to turn and face, so I'll need to think about that.
We started to manage a little trotting, and that also went well. Then I just sat on Bruce and played some games with Hunter. More Friendly with throwing the rope over his head, helecopters with the string, etc. then went through all the other games except Sideways. Then we rode around a bit more, doing more trotting and also more circles with Hunter on the outside, so he got to go fast and Bruce got to go slower, which was perfect for both of them. We finished up with some Squeeze and Sideways using the fence.
I had so muc fun, and I think both of them did too! After we were done and I had taken Hunter's halter off he came and put his head over Bruce's neck and my leg, just in front of the saddle, and stood there for awhile while I stroked him. Nice finish.