Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Region 5 Championships.......More on Settling in.....Rhet's Way

Part 1

As I've mentioned before the weather was unseasonably warm during the Region 5 All Arabian Horse Championships. The portable barn that my Arabian colt was in were facing the afternoon sun. Like most portable barns I've seen there is no overhang on the roof. That means the sun shines directly into the stall and facing the afternoon sun the horses can get pretty warm.

Because Rhet has trouble in new surroundings I was checking on him quite a bit. Then when the sun would begin shining into his stall, I stepped up those checks even more. Imagine my surprise to find that Rhet had figured his own way to deal with the heat.

In the hottest part of the day as I was coming to make my usual check, I looked across the open space to see the heat rising in waves off the hot sand. I wondered how poor Rhet was doing in the stall in that kind of heat. Looking towards the stall there was no sign of Rhet. I panicked just a bit wondering if he'd decided to make his escape through the newly modified opening he created in the back wall.

When I got up to the stall and peered in, I found my horse tucked tightly up against the sidewall standing in the shade. I went in to check him to find some evidence of sweat but very little considering how the heat was radiating off the sand outside.

On a later inspection, I found the horse laying on the ground in the coolest part of the stall. Rhet arose when he saw me but laid back down as soon as I backed off just a bit. That's pretty much what the horse did each day during the heat. There was no standing in front of that hot door for Rhet.

Sometime Thursday afternoon, I spotted Jesse Saldana at the show. He was coming back to school the horse that had brought him to Region 5. I'd thought Jesse was arriving on Friday but as it turned out, it was the class he was riding that was scheduled for Friday. We exchanged cell numbers and he told me he'd give me a call when he was ready to school Rhet. Then I went to the horse trailer to retrieve my schooling halter and my halter whip. I wanted it to be handy whenever Jesse was ready since I knew it was going to take me a little finagling to get that halter on Rhet.

When Jesse did call, I was up at the arena and he told me he'd meet me at Rhet's stall. I made a beeline out to get the colt ready. I didn't really want to wrestle with Rhet with Jesse standing there waiting. It's stressful enough by myself without onlookers.

I hoped the horse would have resolved his issues with the schooling halter. I'd been working with him at home and he was doing much better. But the new surroundings and the resulting stress made the colt leery of pretty much everything. Even when I came up with the stable halter in hand, the colt went flying back to the wall trying to escape.

The scariest part for me is always the throwing of his head. Since the horse broke my nose I've gotten pretty gun shy about his head anywhere near my face. And of course when Rhet gets stressed the first thing he does is start to throw that head. Trying to keep my tension level down so it doesn't affect the horse is a trick in itself.

Once I got my arm around the horse's neck, he quit trying to escape but he sure didn't relax. He stood there with his nose up in the rafters hoping I couldn't reach to get his nose into that halter. When I did get the nose band slide up into place, Rhet dropped his head just a little but he still was braced badly at the poll.

There wasn't much chance putting the schooling halter on was going to be easy. I buckled the stable halter and then threaded the schooling halter over my left hand. Once it was in place, I grabbed the colt's nose with my left hand and held on tight. I gave the colt a minute for the hormones from the hand twitch to hit. Then I carefully tried to pull the schooling halter up onto his face and over his poll.

Rhet was having none of it. He went flying backwards straight into the corner. Standing with his butt in the corner would give me a barrier to keep the colt still while I positioned the halter. I was careful as I followed him back not to leave the colt an opening to escape.

Rhet is smart and escaping that corner was already running through his ming. He tried swinging his hip out into me to make the turn around the corner but I was ready for him and managed to keep him trapped. Once he stopped against the wall, I shook my left hand at him just a little to remind him he needed to stand still if he didn't want that hold on his nose to get tighter.

Rhet isn't dumb and he doesn't like pain or the twitch. As soon as I reminded him the colt sighed a small sigh and came down just a bit........not much.......but just enough to let go of some of the tension in his body. As I slide that halter up his face he looked at me. I could see his wheels turning. If I could get the halter over his poll and beyond quickly enough, the colt would quit fighting all together. I took a deep breathe and I went for it in one fast but smooth move. Catching an eye or an ear would surely result in a major temper tantrum.

Whenever I'm in that kind of a situation, I try and take a deep breathe before I even start the move. I think that action settles my horse some as well as me and it gives me a better chance at pulling the maneuver off. Even though I've gotten lots of practice on this tactic with Rhet, it doesn't always go well.

This first time while Jesse was waiting for me it took a couple of tries before I finally got the schooling halter in place. By this time I was drenched in sweat. I had sweat in my eyes and my armpits were swimming with my shirt sticking to me clear down to my waist. Just the way I want to look when presenting a colt like Rhet to a trainer like Jesse Saldana........

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


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  1. I hate it when the heat is like that. I hope you and Rhet were able to stay hydrated!
    I hope things went well with the handler!

  2. Oh, the heat. Those silly arabs aren't affected at all are they? Plenty of spunk to be difficult about a halter : )

  3. Whew, I'm captivated!
    You write such suspenseful events, even 'putting on a halter'. I feel like I'm there behind you.

    Thanks and keep it up.

    Oh, and best wishes!

  4. im staying tuned.... since i have my arabian on deck also... tho he drops his head real nice...

    you should write a novel... seriously