Saturday, March 14, 2009

Top's Not Brave

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.


GoLightly said...

Top's not brave, but he knows you are. Guess it worried him that that (mature) woman was holding him.
Maybe he thought saddle-spinning gremlins follow this woman around. Lap is probably terrified of ammies..
Sorry it was a bad session.
I hope today goes better, after all, it IS a NeW day:)

To Laptop:)

blueheron said...

Respect for elders is a good one to keep, because we all will be elders, one day. lol.

I can't wait for the next part...

horspoor said...

Thats a very interesting observation GL. I think you may have something there. He does not do well with 'ammies'. I really hadn't thought of it that way.

Things have to be really clear with him. He'll start making me nuts sometimes. Wiggling, busy, looking for an answer. I've turned and looked at him, and said, "ENOUGH". He looks back and settles.

He does really well with one of my students. She's very calm. Not much bugs her. He'll start getting big eyed, and she just says his name in a kind, calm way. He'll regroup. If you allow him to escalate its not pretty.

He's funny in that he seems really calm, confident, everything is good. Then he'll fall apart over odd things, things you wouldn't think would bother a horse. Crows are bad. Crows sitting on an arena fence are esp bad. You can even look at them for awhile, and then blow up. lol

Vehicles, ropers, people wheeling furniture in wheelbarrows and losing control of the load, and spilling it to the ground next to him, no problem.

He spends his days out in the pen next to another gelding Vandy. It is non-stop play. I stood through my entire lunch hour and watched them. They never quit. I'll bite your face, you bit my face. Here's my butt, grab my blanket, I'll pull away, now I'll grab your blanket. Oh lets rear. Woohoo, we are wild wild boys. They have assorted nicks and scrapes, but no real damage.

This goes on daily. It's really tough on the horsey clothes though. It's helping his He stretches down and paws with his nose into the other pen on the bottom rail. His loin is starting to have a round appearance. lol So, what the hell, play away.

blueheron said...

Oh, horspoor, he came along after your son stopped being a daily presence at the pasture. Top missed out on the "desensitizing" and love they all got from him. horspoor's training secrets: her son, and Vandy the playful neighbor. lol

Any chance of seeing some pictures of him? He must be starting to look pretty statuesque, now.

horspoor said...

The horse or my kid? lol

blueheron said...

Oh, you're funny. lol.
I imagine both are looking pretty statuesque at this point. But I think internet adoration might be too much for your kid,at this stage in his development. lol.

horspoor said...

He gets plenty of adoration without throwing the internet into the mix. I was hoping the gaa gaa girls following him, texting him, calling, showing up would be shortlived. Guess not.

nccatnip said...

HP- resident non-expert chiming in here. I imagine this poor guy had a life of mixed signals before he came to you and he just worries. Worrying had become second nature so when he is not worried about you, he finds something else to worry about, like the crows.
He wants desperately to do right, but has never had a comfort level to know what "right" is because he probably has not ever had a confident, mature rider.
Also, I wonder if he was pushed past some developmental stage and worked too soon. Not allowed to be a kid, so to speak? I think the play is good. He can let his guard down and enjoy, maybe something he has never done.

GoLightly said...

They sure carry their experiences with them for a long time..

"Kodiak", (a horse I rode for an ammie), at a show I rode him at, reared as we entered the indoor ring. He'd never done that with me.
Stage fright, or, "Oh, shit, I remember LAST time!"?
(shines nails) We got a second place, and he was No Hunter, let me tell ya:)

Beth Underhill's Monopoly used to do the same thing. Rear before entering the ring. She fixed him, kindly, and of course, he became a SooperDooperStar..

Oh, I respect my elders, Blue, but Top maybe doesn't:)

yes, pictures, prettiest please?
He's SO handsome, Top, that is.

I'm sure your boy needs no encouragement:)

I agree with NCC, 4achange:):):)
Horses can tell who is safe, and who isn't. A lot of Ammies ain't safe.


We'll keep the fire burning, until you get back, HP.
Take good care of yourself, tooo.

I love to watch horses playing Face Tag..

horspoor said...

I think he was pushed too hard too soon. The fact that he ended up back at the farm that imported him ini 2003, unable to jump anymore is a good clue. He had been jumping to 5'. When he was returned, they had to beat him through a jump course. So by the time he was 8 he was fried.

We never started jumping anything until 5. I don't know what others do, but even 5 seems young to me anymore.

Everytime the girl I got him from sees him she has something derogatory to say about him. It's starting to piss me off. Pretty soon I'm going to say something along the lines of, "Just because you couldn't handle him, doesn't make him a bad horse."

blueheron said...

Oh, so you haven't give the girl her wake up call yet, eh? lol.
She needs to be quiet. It isn't personal, that he is doing well with you. Anyone who trains horses (or anything, for that matter) knows they are all unique, and if you don't connect with a horse, there is someone who will. You connect with Top (okay, you connect with most horses, but we'll just ignore that for right now, okay?)

But she's young, and thinks she's all that... Thinks she can handle any horse, and if she can't, the horse is deeply flawed and messed up. Unfortunately, her fall will come. Just a matter of time.

nccatnip said...

I hate arrogance. Do I need to come out there??
No one is going to click with every horse. And the smartest horse people recognize it and do what is right by the horse- find someone that will.
Her ego got in the way of her communication with the boy.

horspoor said...

Well, she's blown it with Teri, Bonnie, and Barb. That's really not a good sign. All those women have age and experience. None of them jump to conclusions. Most of the time they just blow off the kids, find it humorous. She's blowing it. Bad.

blueheron said...

Uh Oh. If she's blown it with the three wise ladies from Redwood Acres, she's blown it big. Hey, that has a nice ring to it...Three wise ladies from RA. :)

I don't imagine the ga-ga girls will end anytime soon. The girls hiding behind the hedge at the age of 14 was a big hint. lol.