Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Region 5 Championships....... a Little More Waiting

Part 1

At least in this new location I had the use of a ready room. I took the colt into it to begin working on his feet. I think Angie came in to help me so I didn't have to cross tie Rhet. He was too fractious to trust trying that. Even though he doesn't know Angie well, Rhet stood for her ok while I applied the spray on polish.

The colt's hooves must have still had some moisture because the polish just wouldn't set. Then Rhet's fidgeting caused him to nick a hoof several times. Each time I'd have to apply more spray to touch it up.

The end result were hooves that looked covered with sagging nail polish. You know that look when you've touched the polish too early and it's smooshed up a bit. There was no fixing it.The look was just plain gross. But we were running out of time, I had to settle. There just wasn't time to strip them down and start over again.

Once the hooves were finally dry to the touch we put Rhet back into his stall to wait for our designated time. I don't know about him but I needed a break before we moved onto the next step in this process.

When it was time to catch the colt up, he was waiting for me. As I approached the stall he moved to the back with his eyes bugging right out of his head. You'd think from his expression I'd turned into one of those dreaded trolls that terrorizes him.

I took a deep breath as I stepped into his stall. I cast my eyes low and talked softly keeping the stable halter tight against my body as I approached. Rhet wasn't sure what to do, which way to go, all he knew was he wanted out of there........and not with me.

I managed to get close enough to catch him. The colt tentatively stood as I reached my arms around his neck. Yet when lifted up the stable halter Rhet raised up as well and threw himself backwards almost taking me to the ground. The frightened colt's eyes told the story as beads of sweat began to form on his neck. Catching Rhet was going to take some maneuvering.

I can't even remember all the specifics of what it took to get that stable halter on Rhet. But I clearly remember that sound as the colt threw himself into stall walls trying to escape sometimes taking me with him. Each time I prayed he wouldn't hurt himself and wondered what it was going to take to put the show halter on.

When I finally did get the horse haltered, I asked Richard to hold the colt as I tried to put the show halter over it. Of course, the stall door was closed so Rhet didn't get ideas about leaving as I went through my procedure of threading that halter over my arm so I could grab the horse by the nose to get the halter on his face.

At my first movement towards his lips, Rhet reared throwing himself backwards. Richard tried to block his movement but the colt was too fast. He slipped out behind me escaping to the opposite corner. It seems like this scenario played over and over as Richard and I figured out the colt's tactics. Each time he made a defensive move, we came up with a counter for our next attempt. There was lots of crashing and banging and more than once I nearly hit the floor but eventually we had the show halter on Rhet's face.

Considering the amount of fight the horse had used to avoid this halter, he was reasonably good about getting the stable halter removed from underneath. Not that I saw the horse relax but he did come down just a bit. Other than charging out the door, he walked pretty well up into the ready room.

There Angie helped me again. This time to groom the horse, and apply the grease. I'm pretty particular about how I like my show horses groomed but this day whatever we could get was going to have to do. I was already exhausted and sweaty and I still had to get the horse up to the ring. All I wanted was this job done.

Rhet was again reasonable..........that's not good...........just manageable, I guess going through this procedure. Wiping out his ears was tough and the colt really worked hard to stand for the body spray. It was clear the horse was trying but his eyes spoke of fear. I couldn't help but feel for Rhet. He was like a victim of war with post traumatic stress. How I wish I could go back to the day he was born to make this outcome different.

When the grooming was finally done, we put the stable halter back on over the top of the show halter. By now the colt was feeling caught with little fight against the added equipment. I got a rag to make sure I had no grease on my hands before I stepped with him out into the world. I positioned the leads to make sure I had a firm grip. I wasn't taking any chances of losing Rhet on the way to the ring. Someone handed me the halter whip as we headed out the door. We made the turn down the barn aisle headed for the ring.

Now Rhet's expression changed from one of fear to one of excitement. The transformation was almost instantaneous. I had to keep reminding the colt to stay with me instead of getting ahead. I did some heavy shanking to get the colt's attention. Then I had to follow up with lighter but continuous reminders. Rhet's entire attention was focused towards the arena.

As we stepped out of the permanent barn into the crisp night air the colt was energized. His tail flagged over his back as we made our way past the other barns to our designated place to meet Jesse Saldana. Still those light continuous reminders were enough to keep this horse in place beside me.

I couldn't help but think about the differences between this brave colt and the terrorized one back in the groom stall. His big but fragile ego evident. Also evident was his almost childlike willingness to please. Despite all the difficulties I was beginning to grow very fond of this colt.

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

The Colt's Class

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  1. You have much more strength and stamina than I. I think I would run, cowering, away from him, if he fought me like that. Kudus to you. And here's praying that you don't get hurt again.

    It's good to hear of his transformation going towards the arena. So many times the arena scares horses. He seems to thrive on it. Funny, isn't it? That he is so difficult with the norm and so great with new experiences?

    Was he handled much as a young colt? Is that what you meant, that you wished you could have imprinted him?

    It sounds like when he finally comes to trusting you he will be one hell of a good horse!

  2. Oh my! We're almost in the ring...finally. I can't wait.

    I suppose haltering Rhet everyday, all winter might be on the barn list. I'm so glad you didn't get hurt with all that thrashing.

  3. at this point how long had you owned him?

    My heart breaks for the colt and for you. I know you love your horses so this must have been nearly as traumatic for you as for him.

  4. I'm guessing that colt will be getting lots of groundwork this winter! I admire your determination to keep working with that colt and giving him the chance to be good and get it. I really hope you don't get hurt again though!

    It's good to hear that he gets excited and more confident when he knows he's heading to the show ring!

  5. Probably impossible, but it would be interesting to link the negative halter image with the positive reinforcement of the excitement of the show ring.