Saturday, October 10, 2009

Top's New Attitude

Okay, check out Mr. Chunky-butt. I didn't realize how much weight he'd put on over the last 9 or 10 months. I came across some pictures I'd taken after I'd had him for a month. And I was so pleased with how much weight he'd put on then.
(I have no clue why blogger wont let put in all my paragraphs. It is a blogger mystery.)

This was, I think May '09.

This is Aug of '09.

This picture was taken January of '09. I was so pleased with his gain at this point. UGH. He looks almost racy doesn't he.

With his added pounds has come a calmness he lacked before. He is comfortable now. He seems to like his life. He knows what is expected of him. He really likes structure. It makes sense for him, no big surprises from rider or handler. He has his group of people. He knows his group of people and likes them. Scary loud fast moving people need not apply for a position in Top's world. Erratic or unpredictable people and their actions spin him right out of control. (Big bay Oldenburg in your lap, seeking protection is no fun...believe me).

The other day after I'd ridden we had him out. A student's father is looking at him and says, "He's kind of like a plow horse, isn't he." There were about seven people standing around, talking and looking at a mare the student was considering for purchase. You could have heard a pin drop. It struck me funny and I said, "Yeah, he's pretty common." An ex-student (owner of the mare) snorted and said, "Dammit." Then laughed. Then there was a collective exhale, and giggles and laughs.
I knew what he meant though. The mare is a very pretty, small footed, light bones APHA mare. One of those teacup headed, exquisite mares. Alert tipped ears, downright dainty. And there stands Top in his size 3 shoes. Quite the contrast.
I rode him again yesterday. A student was watching. He was so quiet. So present. No tightness, no hurry, or coiling through his back. He was almost 'soggy'. I had to really ride to keep him up and forward. If I 'weakened' at all in the canter, he'd transition to the trot. I'm having to ride him up and forward, and he's taking it. He seems to be liking it. Almost like he wants more input. Interesting. He's not hurrying to get it right. Not rushing through transitions, or getting antsy at a change of bend. Tempo is holding, rhythm is good...hell we're on our way to real cadence.
There was one point in our ride when I realized how much he'd really changed. It became crystal clear. We were tracking left in a working trot. This flock of birds whooshed up and past us. I have no idea where they came from. It was like no birds one instant, and this whole flock darting through the air in front of us, and over us. Startled me, and I jumped. Top didn't even pause, bobble his head, nothing. He was Joe Steady. Kind of like, "Jeez Sharon, they're just birds. Get over it."


GoLightly said...

Awwwww. Big ol' soggy-butted Top..

He looks like a completely new horse.
Which, he Is.

Now,don't get all DQ on him, HP.
He wuz a jumper, he jumps.

Not at birds, though.
Watched that movie tooo many times, huh, HP?
Tippi Hedren sure impressed ya, eh?
I can't walk past a murder of crows, to this day, without checking behind me...

Heck, I'd watch out for squirrels too. The ring I broke old Tad Plaid in, had a comedian squirrel. He'd throw acorns down at you from the trees beside the ring. And chitter/chatter hysterically if you "jumped".
Not that there's anything wrong with that:)
What, did I lose ya with my last comment?
No surprise there.
Jumpers haz MorE jump.


horspoor said...

The birds made my student standing by the rail start too. She laughed and said, "They scared me too."

Yeah, that movie scared the crap out of me when I was little. Sometimes if there are a bunch lining the powerlines it'll give me a shiver. Birds kind of freak me out anyway. You know, the ones people have as pets, and fly around the house, and at you. I worked in a pet store as a kid. I know how 'un-nice' birds can be.

OH, I probably will go all DQ on him. He'll get to go trail riding and down the beach though. I'm not that DQ. I'm the poor relation. lol

nccatnip said...

Now flying monkeys- those scare me.

I loves Top.

kestrel said...

Top just gets more and more interesting! Wow!

I have a theory that: after a horse finally looks outside the wall of fear that made them lock down completely, the personality that emerges is the same age as the one that they had, before they brain fried into traumatic stress syndrome. Some older horses act like green babies mentally, even if they're older. (And we wonder whether wE forget details when we're stressed~)

GoLightly said...


Gawd, NCC cracks me up.

I agree, kestrel, as usual. He is green, but, thank goodness, his rider isn't. Thank the lucky star that watched over Top, when he found his HP.

Do you guys have flying squirrels?
Better watch out for them too.

A pheasant scared the crap out of me once, okay not literally, on a walk with old red dog several years ago.
Not that's a scary noise. Bloody machine gun, rattlin' away from you.

Top is amazing. So is his rider.
What great work you've done!
The "Book" is glowing...
with pride.

horspoor said...

I was riding Daf one day. A rooster had been at the barns for a week or so. Somebody dumped it. It was like a pet. Very social friendly guy.

It followed Daf and I into the arena. I was riding Daf. We came along the long side, and the rooster was right in front of us. Daf stopped. The rooster is maybe 10ft away. I'm sitting on a very green, very unpredictable filly that Daf was at the time. She was uhmmmmm, volatile.

So Daf is looking at the rooster, the rooster is looking at Daf. It starts to stretch up. What runs through my mind is, "Oh, this is going to hurt." I start to pull up my legs, and curl into an almost fetal position. (Yeah brilliant move, I know. I'd yell at a student). The rooster flaps his wings. (My mind is now thinking...this is going to be so bad). And the bastard CROWS!

Daf's ears are forward looking at the rooster. Her attitude was, "Look, it's my rooster." I started to slowly unfold, and look around, hoping no one had witnessed by display of stupid chicken behavior. Patted her on the neck. Told her she was brilliant, and went back to work. lol

horspoor said...

Rode Top today. He was super good. Even with a loose foal running around. Got a bit snorty about it, but maintained.

Rode the diamond to start. Worked on spiraling in and out of a 20m circle. The on bend, counterbend, figure 8's. He was good.

GoLightly said...

Hah, that's funny, HP.

What a brave Daf;)

The "Book" is now ticking...

kestrel said...

I am in awe of a horse's ability tho let the whole past go once they decide it's safe to do so.

You've provided Top with a mental place that is so safe that he's baaack! Mr. Awesome has reentered the building...yesss!

horspoor said...

I just hope his 'new' attitude holds. I really hope we don't revisit the old issues. We'll keep going along calm and quiet, and quietly raising the bar and see if he maintains.

nccatnip said...

Daf's rooster! How cute.

fernvalley01 said...

Some how I missed this!~ Way to go Top!! This is so cool reading about him , sure seems to have turned the corner for you ! And he looks terrific!

kestrel said...

I find that once they turn the corner they tend to stay forward mentally, unless they go back to the situation that made them nuts. It's almost as if they never want to go back to being a deranged whack case!

I have worked with some horses that just will never be able to handle a show ring ever again, but I had a few that went back into the ring and loved it, and are showing still. I had one QH mare that was a lovely WP horse, but every time we passed a certain spot in the arena she'd look over and snort. That turned out to be where her previous owners instructor usually stood!

horspoor said...

OH man...where the instructor stood. That is telling. How awful.

I took him to the indoor today, and he was very good. Little snorty to start, but he settled.

Bonnie said...

been a lurker for a while, but i had to say YAY FOR TOP! and YAY for you!

it's inspiring, really.

also - he does look like an arab... ;)

kestrel said...

Woohoo, the fact that he can mentally come back from 'snorty' is a huge breakthrough!

autumnblaze said...

Happy dance for Top! I'm with Kestrel on the rehab of his brain. I've seen some horses good people gave the time and space to figure out it was safe again and they were SO awesome. I bet he'll end up a pretty steady Eddy. Time and someone with some sense are what he needed and was lucky enough to find. Go Hp!!

bhm said...

Top looks really good. What a handsome boy. Amazing job with Top's new personality.