So remember Monday, Joe was just a little it "up", so I decided not to ride him, it was windy, cold, noisy, etc., so we worked on emotional control mostly. Then yesterday was just beautiful, I had Lakota out, the sun was shining, she was a star, etc. etc. Today the kids have early dismissal, so I only have a couple of hours of free time. I planned on taking Joe out and trying my new Centered Riding tricks with him, since I won't be able to do anything with them until at least Monday, with the holiday weekend. Who knows now what Monday will bring. I am destined to not ride this horse for some reason.
So I wander outside after a really quick lunch, and as I'm digging tack out, I hear the dog barking like crazy. I go to investigate, and I see a guy climbing a tree in the neighbors yard, the same yard where the dump truck was dumping gravel on Monday. Nothing was going on there at all yesterday, of course. So I watch for a minute, they are tree guys. They are climbing this tree, to put a rope in it so they can pull it up hill when it falls so it doesn't land on the house These are NOT the tree guys we use (and now I know why). I'm thinking "Great, how long is this going to take them? I don't feel like getting killed on Joe when he see's these huge ape-men swinging from the tree-branches." So within about 15-20 minutes, they have the rope all set up, and I think "OK, this wont' be so bad, I should still have a little time", and I watch them as I head back up to the barn. I hear the chainsaw, and the tree craaa-aaackkkk.............no thud. So I wander back over, and the tree fell on another tree and is stuck up in the air. The two bozo's are pulling on a rope as if they are going to pull it down. Freakin' great.......... there goes my whole afternoon. So I wandered back in the house, addressed some envelopes, sent them out, played ball with Georgie, then wandered back out, and see that now they have a come-a-long on another tree and are cranking it down. Finally, the tree falls, they cut it up, and I have about 1 hour until the bus comes.
I get Joe tacked up, and my first clue should have been when I pulled the latigo across the seat of the saddle and the sound of the nylon zipping across the seat spooked him. Then apparently I wasn't clicking him fast enough for dancing around trying to offer me something when all I wanted was STAND STILL, so he tried pawing a few times. I do NOT like that at all. I know, it'll go away if I ignore it, as long as I don't get stomped on first. So we putzed around for awhile, wasting time, watching these guys, and it looked like they were all finished, but I figured I probably wouldn't get on anyway but at least bring him out. So we went down the hill to the RP, and no sooner did he get in the gate and I'm latching it and arranging his reins so he doesn't step on them while I have the long line on him, then they fire up the chainsaw and fell another tree, BANG!!!!, within seconds. Great, Joe freaks out and does this big head-up dance in place thing (never took slack out of the line though, but made quite a few hoof divots in the ground). So now he is all fired up, we walk over to the side of the pen so he can face them and watch them, while they are high-fivin', hootin', hollerin' like a couple of rednecks. I hope my neighbors aren't paying them much. Joe is really worried, but kept a soft eye on me the whole time, and we just did really fast, high-rate of clicks for not spooking. He really wanted to go, I could tell, I felt it in his body he was ready to blast off, but he stayed with me, and his head would go up at a noise, then he would immediately drop it/soft eye and get his CT. Then the goats would jump in their shed, or a chicken would run out from behind the woodpile (they snatch up the bits of oats I drop from Joe's treats), or the bozo's would drop another tree, or climb one, and each time the head would go up, but then come right back down again and be soft. So we did a LOT of head down, and then we walked with head down, and I treated him with his head down. I wanted to keep head-down as a positive thing.
I wish I had more time and could have gotten him calmer by the time I had to put him away, but he about had enough of the scary stuff, and I was way out of time and didn't want to get into the middle of something that I would have to abandon. So we circled twice on each side, then walked around with head-down again, then called it a day. He relaxed almost immediately as we started heading back up to the barn. He has never been afraid of chainsaws or trees coming down when he is in his paddock, so I guess he feels safe there, but out in the yard is unknown and scary. I guess we just need lots more experience!