Monday, February 4, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Arabian Horse Breeder

I am trying to get back to working my Arabian horses after this two months that I have been off sick. It seems like every thing I think I'm ready to give it a try again, I end up pushing myself to hard to fast and something happens. I either get sick again or get hurt.

So I am starting off slow, or slower anyway. Today I went to the barn and lunged all six horses. They are really out of shape and full of attitude which isn't the best combination. Attitude easily translates to energy. Too much energy normally means horses that aren't really listening all that well. The best way I've found to deal with that is by going back to square one.

I like my horses to turn and face me when I walk into the stall. If they don't, I usually will cluck at them until they do. If clucking doesn't get their attention, then I toss the soft end of the lead rope their direction. Normally the horse's hind end is my target, but that's not always available. The minute the horse looks my direction, I stop clucking and take a step back rewarding the desired behavior.

Most of the time I never have to even take this first step but two months of little if any work definitely changes things. While all of my horses are friendly and want to come up for attention. Paying attention was last on their minds. I think I had to ask all six horses to move off and turn and face me before I even hung a halter on their pretty faces.

Each horse has its own distinct personality. So each has its own way of expressing their displeasure because they feel like I've neglected them. It was certainly a common theme as I worked through my horses today.

I started off with Vee and she just plain shook her head at me. She wouldn't back up for me to enter the stall. She just stood there looking at me shaking her head up and down over and over, actually making me a bit dizzy! I clucked and she halfway cocker her head and then went back to shaking it again. Only as I reached for the leadrope did she step back and face me, putting her nose down into the halter and blowing crisply through her nostrils spraying mucous all over my glasses. But she made her point.

Once in the arena, Vee went off on the lunge line like a perfect little lady until who knows what got her flying around like the devil himself was after that mare. Swapping her leads and changing up her speed, it was clear that she wasn't listening to me.

On the lunge line, I like to just jiggle that line when I want something. Sooner or later they get annoyed and pay attention to me. For Vee, it was sooner. The horse put on the brakes sliding to a stop and turned to face me. Then she lowered her head and blew another big blast, clearly stating, "WHAT?"

I sent her back off at a nice easy lope and the devil jumped up again and off she went. This time she hit a slick spot as she dug in those hind legs of her. Instead of propelling her forward, it sent her down in a heap.

My heart always stops for a moment whenever a horse falls. This time was no exception as I waited for the horse to get up.......but she didn't. She was glat out on her side with her back facing me. I couldn't see her face and I didn't see her move. My heart stopped for another brief instant as the possibilities flooded my mind. Then the mare started to roll.

Relieved, I laughed at the horse as I sent her on her way. With a crack of the whip she was up and running again. Shaking off the dirt, tossing her head and, of course, voicing her displeasure because I'd interfered with a nice roll in the dirt!

I gave the mare a few more minutes that direction and then reversed her. I let her run until she finally got some of that energy out. Ten minutes total and she was ready to quit. A steaming mess the mare had to be handwalked before I could even tie her to dry. It was obvious it was going to be a long morning lunging horses. The bigger attitudes were yet to come. Geez, it's good to be back!

To be continued..........

Part 2

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  1. Thank heavens your horse was just down to roll. That would have scared me, too. Silly horse!

    It sounds like you have your hands full now. But, I bet before you know it, they'll all be back into their old routines.

  2. Oh, but to have a covered space in which to lunge six horses...or even two! I actually worked briefly with both girls here today and was rather proud of myself for that, but now I feel like a wimp!

  3. These horses are just beautiful to behold.

  4. Goodness...ya had ME scared for a bit there. Rolling though...LOL! I don't know if I would have been able to pick myself off the ground fast enough from laughing so hard...LOL! Dang...that must have been a sight!

  5. I used to ride a horse that would blow snot on me if he hadn't been ridden enough. He was clever. He would lift his had when we were cantering, blow out a bunch of snot and listen with glee as I said "oh, gross", "uck". I had somebody try to tell me once that horses don't have a sense of humor. Yeah......... right.

  6. When my horses fall, I react the same way you did. And actually, it's very reassuring to realize that all horses exhibit the same attitudes and behaviors when they have "cabin fever". My two went nuts today when I turned them out. Good thing to work off that energy since it's pouring rain right now and will be for the next two days.

  7. I like how you ask them to look at you when you approach them. It's not only good safety practice but it's respectful!

    I have, in the past, hated lungeing. Hate, hate, hated it. Since getting some good lessons I have a much different attitude towards it.

    but I have to say, I am so relieved to hear that your mare was just goofing off and wasn't hurt!

    I haven't done anything with mine all winter other than scratch their foreheads and brush them and pick out their hooves. It's either mud or ice in the yard. At my coach's barn I've done as much riding as possible, as long as the snow gets blown out of her corral. I'm really looking forward to the month of May...

  8. Kaswyn should have plenty of pent-up energy the next few days because the weather will be too crappy for turnout. I don't like lunging him due to his injury so I just suck it up and try to contain the firecracker!

  9. Good Grief! Glad she didn't hurt herself. They are funny, their individual personalities. Misty knows what is expected of her on the lunge line. I really have to work with Kola, because she doesn't get it. At all!

  10. Wow, it must be lunging day! I got to ride today after being off for a week and half due to the weather! Rode my mare-she was trying my patience, then our bay gelding didn't want to do go away from the mare. So I say okay, just wait! I go get the lunge line and off we go and we are doing real good and wham! He slips and falls and then jumps right up and looks at me like what? I didn't fall! LOL! Horses defintely have a sense of humor and totally different personalities! Glad you got to work with them. I know I was having withdrawls!!

  11. Great stories as always!
    I got my "Trouble" mug from your Zazzle shop yesterday - it is precious!

  12. Yikes! rolling...oh my, I was shook for a sec.

    Since Scooter has become older, I worry about his sure-footedness (is that a word?)

    He occasionally stumbles, not near as much as he did when he wore shoes all the time. I do lope and gallop him when we trail ride, but always on a sandy lane that is clear of obstacles.

  13. Well it certainly is always an adventure working with horses, isn't it.

  14. Hi MiKael

    Have finally caught up on your blog and and look forward to updates on his progress.


  15. Okay, chickie poo...better call the doctor, if you know what I mean...bwaaa haaaa haaaa!!!

  16. Horse falling? Now, you scared me there.

    That always makes my heart skip a beat. I even check to be sure I have my cell phone ... you know, calling the vet. How calm is that?

    I'm sure they know mom is back! They are all such beauties!

  17. jolynna, she about scared me to death with that fall.

    tracey, yes the covered space has been nice for a change. This is the first time I have had that luxury. The footing sucks but at least it's dry.

    abraham, I'b glad you like them. Now if I could just learn to take pictures as well as you, I'd be set.

    equinespirit, I know she scared me too. I was so relieved to see she was all right. But ticked she scared me because she was thinking about a roll! LOL

    lovelee, I think some of them do have a sense of humor and blow just to get our goat.

    victoria, I think all horses don't like cabin fever anymore than we do. They are sure fun to watch when they have been cooped up.

    heidi, I normally don't get to work mine through the winter. This is really a treat.

    dressagemom, I'm not big on lunging either. I rarely do it. But I was wanting to leg me up probably more than the horses.

    I can see why you wouldn't want to lunge Kaswyn. I sure hope this all works out for you two.

    callie, it is really intersting how they can all be so different. You just never know.

    kwdhorses, don't you love it when they give you that look because they feel stupid!

    arthist99, I'm glad you got your mug. And glad to know who bought it. lol

    barngoddess, it is a word to me! LOL I worry about the older horses too. Lindsay's gelding is the same age as your Scooter. You take such good care of him.

    grey horse matters, yes you never know what you're going to get.

    lori, updates on rhythm, geez I need to do those too.

    marvel, it really scared me too. What a way to start off my day!