Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Horse Behavior’ Category

We Spooked. We Survived.

T is for Tape. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

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Rodney is a high-strung Thoroughbred. I am not being redundant.

When I started riding him again, I knew that spooking and hopping and fussing was in our future. He’s not the sort of horse to take a phlegmatic view of the world [Looking for Rodney’s Silver Lining]. I was hoping to start small and build up a tolerance.

Well, yeah.

A bit of explanation. Our “ring” is a section of the pasture marked off at horse-chest height with plastic construction tape. The same stuff I use to differentiate my large brown horse from large brown deer [Don’t Shoot, Hunting Season]. The horses respect it as a boundary, and it provides them the reassurance of being enclosed. Go figure. Most importantly, the tape is not gonna hurt them if they get the crazies and charge thru it, which has happened. Milton more than Rodney. The alternative is to build a rail or wall capable of holding their weight. The worst thing is a flimsy fence. I’ve been meaning to do a blog post on the whole concept. But I digress.

Mr. E [Dressage Lesson] has Rodney and me practicing halts. We halted. We moved off. We LEAPT sideways. I had enough hang time to contemplate my imminent future as ground art. We stopped. The horse had the decency to be standing underneath me. Rodney had gotten the tape under his tail, which startled him, which made him levitate sideways, which pulled the tape after him, which startled him. As causative agents go, it was legit.

Mentally, it wasn’t a big spook. No snorting before. No prancing after. One short, sharp ‘Eek’, and it was over. Physically, yowza!

Fortunately, when it comes to talent, there’s a lotta jump in that horse. Unfortunately, when it comes to ill-advised cavorting, there’s a lotta jump in that horse.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

This Is Why I Am Paranoid Around The Barn

Saddle Seat Wednesday

P is for a healthy concern for safety, not an obsession, not at all. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]
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A while back, I was at Stepping Stone, getting ready for my lesson. The grooming stall is full of SSF brushes and material, so I leave my brush box just outside, in the aisle. (Yes, I bring my own brushes. Your point?) As I was about to reach down to get a brush, I saw a horse being led up the aisle.

From an excess of caution, I stood up & stepped back, waiting for the horse pass by. As he got level with me, the horse suddenly kicked out with both hind feet. I was looking at the bottom of a set of hooves from about a foot away. At least, it felt like 12 inches. Probably was more. I was perfectly safe where I was.

What if I had been a step closer, bent over? Shudder.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s Overtime

O is for Overtime. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

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Milton values his alone time [Naptime].

On more than one occasion, I have opened the stall door to zero response on the part of the occupant. Sometimes he’s eating. Sometimes he’s chilling. In neither case does he make any effort toward the door. [Daily Routine – Morning]

If I have time, I close the door and let him bake a while longer. Usually, he comes out on the second attempt. OTOH, there are days when I try three times and finally have to chase him out or use a halter to drag him out.

At the same time, I have to prevent Rodney from running into the stall [Inner Brat]. Rodney is learning to stand in an assigned, out-of-the-way spot while I decant Milton. He’s good about it, but if I take too long, he breaks the sit-stay.

I never doubted Milton values his naps [Update]. Now we have further proof.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

The Bratitude Increases

N is for Not Again. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

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As the confidence increases, so does the back talk. Remember when Rodney mutinied going up the hill [Rodney’s Hillwork]? and then about standing [Rodney Channels]? The rot has spread to the ring.

I got on. We started walking. Rodney became fascinated with a stand of trees at the edge of the pasture.

Who’s there?
(Dramatic Reenactment)

I booted him in the side and told him to keep his eyes in the boat.

This is huge.

We were having a conversation under saddle. Okay, the conversation concerned what a brat Rodney was being, but one must to start somewhere. He wasn’t putting his hooves over his ears and waiting for the world to stop bothering him.

I say “not again,” but really I’m tickled. I can cope with attitude much better than with a fragile flower.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Update: One reader said that the annoyed came thru more clearly than the tickled in this post. I was annoyed. Rodney was being a twit. He was being a bog-standard, work-avoiding, exasperating horse. The fact that we had reached a level of normality where I COULD get after him for being annoying, THAT has me tickled.

Rodney in Wraps

I is for Impressions. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

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(No photos. Left phone in jacket when I took it off. Thought about running back to get. Decided to be in the moment rather than fuss about documenting it.)

After Milton’s weekly trailer jaunt [Mobile], we did a test load for Rodney. Wrap. On. Stand. Off. Aced it.

He stood quietly while I wrapped his legs. Clearly, he remembered this. Equally clearly, it was not a bad memory. When we moved off, he did a can-can. We laughed. His look said, let me tie mattresses to your legs and see how gracefully you move.

I had trouble getting his large carcass properly situated in the slant load. We backed off and tried again. He didn’t leave the trailer as much as roll off like a car that hadn’t been properly chocked. The rig was on a slight hill.

Got him better positioned. Closed the side gate. Fed treats. Offered the hay net. He said, ‘No. This is a carrots-or-better situation.’

Calm. Alert. Dignified. His attitude the whole time was of a horse aware of and in control of his surroundings. As we walked to the trailer, I caught the aura of Big Time Show Horse coming through.

As I related in our origin story [Horse Illustrated], I saw Rodney four years before I bought him. He was a different horse by the time we saw him again. This is the first time I have caught a glimpse of the horse I saw lo these many years ago.

Maybe I was imagining it. Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe I was just so happy to see my horse one tiny bit closer to being a performance partner instead of – or in addition to – being a pet.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Rodney Channels His Inner Brat

B is for Brat. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

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To reward Rodney for being good the previous day (we recreated a tiny bit of our lesson [Dressage]. Yay!), I decided to have him stand at the side of the ring while Milton worked, We’ve done this before. It counts as saddle time, but is not mentally taxing.

Rodney was awful.

He was being driven mad, mad it tell you, by a few early spring flies. I don’t think he had all four feet on the ground for a minute straight. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. In between, he wiggled. He shifted. Stomp. Stomp. He tried to drift back to the barn. Wiggle. Shift. Stomp. Drift.

And yet, he did all of this without an ounce of tension. No head flinging. No teeth grinding. He didn’t get nervous. He didn’t tune me out. He knew exactly what I was asking. He responded with Don’t wannnnnnna. Ain’t gonnnnnna.

I have never been so simultaneously annoyed at and pleased with a horse in my life.

The next morning, Rodney barged past me into the stall just under Milton’s nose [Daily Routine]. I had to yell loudly to stop Milton from following. (Loudly enough that Greg heard me from the house.) If those two were to get in the stall at the same time, it would be frogs in a blender.

I tied Milton up, went in the stall, and chased Rodney out with prejudice. I wanted to be crystal clear that he was not to behave this way again. He did not run out of the stall screaming that the sky was falling. Instead, he sashayed out with a look that said, Well, ya can’t blame a horse for trying.

Who is this horse?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Looking for Rodney’s Silver Lining

For future reference.

Mr. Sensitivity demonstrates the art of sleep-eating.

Every character flaw has a corresponding virtue.

I am forthright.
You are inconsiderate.
He is rude.

I am helpful.
You are pushy.
He has boundary issues.

I am easy-going.
You are unmotivated.
He is lazy.

Rodney is sensitive. Those of us who have to deal with his reactions might say over-sensitive. At some point this is going to be a virtue. Brilliance in dressage? A close communion that allows me to read this thoughts on cross-country? Maybe we will never show (shudder) but will achieve some non-competitive goal that currently eludes me?

Someday, I will look back and all of this will make sense. Or maybe the whole thing is a pointless waste of time.

Wow, that got darker than I intended. I’m trying to see the up side, really, I am.

Onwards.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott