Friday, February 8, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Arabian Horse Breeder - Part 5

Part 1

You might think that after as long as I have been doing this (which doesn't seem nearly as long to me as it does to other people) that I would know better that to think such things as It's a good thing the "easier" ones were the ones left. Just the mere thought sets me up. My Arabian horses just love to make a liar out of me.

The very next horse I worked was Hope. She is a very sweet seven year old mare. Normally she is pretty laid back about things. But wouldn't you know because this was my first day back to work and I was running out of steam that she would not be her usually quiet self.

The horse was good about getting her blanket off and being groomed. She stood quietly to get the polo wraps on her front legs. There really weren't any indications that anything out of the usual was going through her head until we got into the arena to lunge.

I sent the mare off on her circle. The horse started off ok but suddenly was charging in on the circle and snorting and blowing. Wouldn't you know it. There near the rail was this strange creasure the horse had never seen before. Absolutely never, not in her entire life, had she seen such a thing. Hope was sure it was going to eat her or at the very least grab her in some unexpected way.

Each time the horse circled around and got near this creature, she charged in on her circle and bolted. And all the time she's looking at me wondering what is my problem that I'm not protecting her from this thing. I could read the indignation on her face. She was clearly upset that I not only was NOT protecting her from this new monster in the arena, BUT I had the audacity to insist that she go right by it. What was I thinking!

Well, I was thinking, "You silly mare, it's a mounting block! Granted it's a NEW mounting block but a mounting block none the less. It's not going to eat you. Can't you see it hasn't even moved? Get over it, will you?"

There was no way this conversation was going to convince Hope that she was safe anywhere at this end of the arena. Once she got it into her mind that that mounting block was bad news, that was it. I had thought within a couple of laps give or take she would realize that it was OK. But clearly that was NOT the case. For the first time I can remember, Hope had decided to be a ditz!

I decided to drop the mare down to a walk to get her to go by this scary, scary thing. I shortened my lunge line so I could have better control. Then used the whip as an extension of my arm to form a barrier behind the mare. But she knew what I was thinking and just as I had about boxed her in, she wheeled around and sprinted off the other direction hitting the end of that lunge line like a fish hits a hook.

I supposed I could have wound the lunge line up to the length of a lead and just walked the mare by that way. But she is such a smart mare, that I figured she would just tune me out again when she got more rope to maneuver. I really wanted to give her some line and convince her she had no other choice but to walk by this terrible mounting block monster.

I stopped the mare on the rail just down from the offending obstacle. I did shorten my line some to get her into position between the rail and me. Then I moved the lunge whip up behind her while she stood still letting it rest lightly on her backside. Then I asked her to walk off.

With each step she took, I took one with her and one away from her at the same time. That way I gradually increased the length of the lunge line. As we got closer to the dreaded mounting block the mare began to snort. She
was moving her head up and down and hunching some looking for an escape route.

I just kept my eye on her making sure I could keep her exit blocked. The only opening I wanted available was right past the mounting block. The rail formed a solid boundary. The lunge whip touching her was convincing enough for the horse to think that was a solid boundary too. The only question was would she see me as a solid barrier too. My horses all know they are not supposed to go through me, but you never really know for sure.

With my right arm already extended holding the lunge whip, I moved my left arm (holding the lunge line) straight out away from my body towards the direction I wanted the mare to travel. That made my presence bigger and the route she was to travel clearer for the horse to see.

Hope looked at me. Then she looked at the mounting block and then back to me as she scooted through the opening breaking into a trot. I let her circle around. Then dropped her to a walk and repeated the procedure until she was less frantic. I even stopped her there and let her smell the darn thing.

The horse was still convinced there was a troll living underneath it or some such thing. I did get her to lunge both directions at all three gaits no longer charging in on the circle. Each time she got close to that mounting block her body tensed, her nostrils flared and her eyes popped but she went by it without changing speed, direction or line of travel. What more could I ask.

Ten minutes of this and I had another sweaty, heaving mess on my hands. It was time for more hand walking before I could tie this mare and move onto the next horse. By this point I was no longer making predicitions about how anything would go. I still had two more horses to work.

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

Part 6

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  1. I just noticed your blog posts about twins! I'll have to go read them since I caused you such shock with my title this morning... :)

    Interesting days in your life with the Arabians, too - thank for sharing the details.

  2. She is so beautiful that most trolls I've met would eat her first! Do Arabs tuck those tails when trolls are present?

  3. Interesting story. Is that her? She's pretty. As are all your horses.

  4. what?? spooked by a mounting block and YOU did not protect her??

    lol! Poor Hope.

    IS that her in the photo? beautiful horse. Wee One said, "oh mama, look at the horse flying her tail!" when he saw the photo over my shoulder.

    Scooter occasionally shies away at the goat ranchers mini windmill and their wind socks.

    Some days he does and some days he acts like they do not even exist.

  5. I have been enjoying reading through all your posts so far about your day of lunging and working with your horses. I have never owned an Arabian, but I think they are beautiful horses and I love their spirit. I have encountered the "scarey monster" many times and have learned that getting over it in one direction does not carry over to the other direction, or sometimes it wasn't scarey one way but seeing it at a different angle changes everything! I am looking forward to hearing about the remaining horses. I admire your cool under the stress and ability to see the humor - it is great entertainment as well as education for us!

  6. Just because you can't see the monsters doesn't mean they are not there. I've had a lot of experience with this sort of thing too.

  7. billie, yes, I did have twins, there is a reason for my "shock" about them. I haven't posted about them in a while. Guess it must be about time for an update.

    molly, Arabs do tuck their tails if they feel threatened from behind. They do the tuck and scoot boggies just like other horses. LOL

    scary, yes that is Hope. Guess I forgot to say that she is gray. I still can't figure out how to do a caption in blogger. I sure wish they would just make us a button on the tool bar.

    barngoddess, I am such a bad mother. I forced her to face the terrible thing and offered her no comfort whatsoever! Well, comfort, maybe, but I did laugh at her.

    Wee One sure is observant. Not much gets passed him, I've noticed.

    linda, I just love all the little quirky things that horses do. It's part of why I own them so getting to see it makes me feel blessed.

  8. Such characters they all are... :-)