I had a breakthrough this morning on our sweet Sovereign boy. Recently, I have been worried that he hasn't been having fun when we ride alone. He clearly enjoys his rides with Pie, but lately, when we head out alone, he is anxious and hurried. He isn't dangerous or naughty in anyway, just addled. I find this unusual because he was the boy who originally could care less about Pie. He just wanted to go see the world. When the horses arrived in February, I got in the habit of alternating days that I would work with them. Early on, that meant hand grazing, leading, grooming and tacking. Eventually, when I started riding them, I would ride them alone. Sovereign was so interested in going out over the fields. (Click here for more about that.) My mom and I ride them together often now, and both horses love that. Pie still loves going it alone, but Sovey seems sad without his buddy. Why does Pie accept me as a good alternative to Sovey, but Sovey thinks I am a poor substitute for Pie? I ride through all Sovereign's emotions, but I wonder, am I taking the time to make sure he is happy? My friend, Ginny, remarked how few posts I have about Sovereign and his rides. I realized she is so right! The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and Pie has been the silliest squeaky wheel in town. He just demanded more of my time because he was so big and needed more guidance. Sovey was the perfect angel from the beginning so I just never took the time to "play" with him as much. I have been brainstorming for a couple of weeks how to make Sovereign have fun again on our rides. I realize that there are some people who will think I am crazy for worrying if a horse is "happy" but that is just me! To me it is all about the enjoyment of both of us. I truly believe that my success comes from keeping horses happy and interested. When a horse is enjoying what he is doing he will not look for excuses to be naughty. So today I decided that I would start from square one with Sovereign. I made up my mind that I would stop as soon as he was in anyway troubled. I got him out of the pasture and hand grazed him, just like we did when he first came. I softly groomed him. He wasn't cranky about the grooming. Usually he is ouchy and I thought that I would have to stop if he was, but it was all good. Then, we walked around the farm and houses and driveway and tennis court investigating this and that. We grazed under the apple trees and he happily munched apples. This is very similar to what I did with both the horses last winter (without the apples). He was still interested in me and not looking at all for Pie. We went into the barn and got the bridle, still goofing around and acting like it was all fun and games. I slipped on his bridle and hopped on bareback, but instead of heading out to the field, we walked around the pastures and barn and houses. He was animated and happy. I kept him walking in different patterns around the farm, but not on the trails. He really listened and remained calm even though he couldn't see Pie. At one point we picked up a trail and he started to rush a little. This hurrying isn't like "I am going to race home because I am barn sour nervous" it is more like "let's get this stupid part over because I want to see Pie again" rushing. I made a mental note of where we made it to and then I asked him to go a tiny bit more and then, home. He always does complete the entire farm trail for me if I want, but he won't do it with the lightness and animation he once had. Usually, selfishly, I make him do it anyway. Today, on our smaller ride, he had the light-hearted step again for 95% of the time so I am thrilled with that. Sovereign has always seemed like he is an old soul, contemplating so much. I just want to add to his joy - not his misery. Today he seemed joyful again. Hooray!