Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sizing Things Up

When I posted Wrapping Up a Difficult Summer
I had just gotten the Arabian horse, Scandalous Storm, back. I decided I'd just let the horse enjoy some turnout time and give him some time to adjust before I put him to work so it was a full week before I even got on his back.

Although court papers had stated the horse was in training, his condition implied otherwise. The Arabian horse had absolutely no tone in his hip. There was nothing about the rest of his overall body condition that suggested it was anymore used than his hip. Flabby and out of shape was definitely a more accurate description than a horse on a regular training schedule, I'm afraid. Whatever I did with Storm I would have to start off light and work my way up as his strength improved.

Not knowing how long it had been since the horse had received any kind of work out and also knowing it was common practice in that barn for horses to spend more time on the lunge line that I prefer, I decided I would only lightly lunge the horse before trying to mount. I would do my usual testing of his "temperature" and go from there.

Storm went out on the end of that line pretty much like I thought he would. At first he acted a bit concerned about my intentions but quickly settled into a trance expecting to be going for a while. After just a few laps I asked the horse to stop so he could change directions. I had to break through the horse's zoned out state to get him to listen to me. Shaking the line at him startled Storm and he pulled up abruptly snorting and looking confused. As I sent him off the other direction, I could see the horse really wasn't sure what to think.

This time instead of settling into that other world, he watched me closely to see what was coming next. With just a couple of laps I asked him to "Whoa!" and this time the horse was right there with me. Storm sat on his b*tt like a reiner and looked at me waiting to see what I wanted next. As I walked towards the stallion, coiling up my lunge line, the horse gave off a deep sigh and dropped his head knowing he was at least "done" for the moment.

After setting the lunging equipment aside, I put on the horse's bridle and got ready to ride. I figured since the man had tried to put both Percy and Louie in more bit way too early for me, Storm had probably been ridden in some kind of twisted snaffle. I wasn't convinced that the horse needed that kind of equipment so I chose my regular Greg Darnell smooth futurity snaffle that I use to school my young horses. This horse had always been so sensitive about everything, I really couldn't imagine he'd need much more. Storm mouthed that bit running his tongue back and forth over it's smooth surface like a horse will when it feels something strange in it's mouth making me think my suspicions about what kind of bit he'd been wearing were probably right.

With my reins run through the rings of the martingale, I tried to line the horse up with the mounting block. This should have been no problem since I'd been using a block to mount since about the fifth or sixth ride with this horse back when I started them but on this day Storm said, "NO WAY!, I'm not going near THAT thing!"

When I asked the horse to move up to that block again, the stallion shook his head at me and stomped his foot in a bold act of defiance. I hadn't seen such indications of stallion behavior from this horse since he was about two although I had seen a few signs since he'd come back home that suggested there might just be some issues there.

I had to remind the horse that such behavior would not be tolerated. He was already acting nervous enough about the changes in his life, I didn't want to make this correction more than necessary so I decided to just use my voice to see if he was still as sensitive as he'd been back then and I was right. It only took a harsh, "Quit!" for the horse to look at me and drop his head. Then he compliantly moved up next to the mounting block although I could tell he was still unsure about doing so.

Storm stood quietly next to the mounting block as I climbed up to the top step. The horse did not, however, stand quietly for me to mount. The moment I swung my leg going over the saddle the horse quickly walked off with his head high and his eye looking a bit frantic. It was clear the horse had been getting away with some things and that he was unsure about this new place.

I do not like to get on other's people's horses. Ever since my friend, Wendy, had talked me into riding her supposedly broke gelding and the horse had taken off with me, I just don't trust the evaluation of others about where a horse might be in its training. I didn't get hurt in that situation but I sure did get the beezesus scared out of me so now I just stay off of horses I don't know.

Now, I was feeling much the same way about Storm. He might be my horse but not having ridden him in nearly two years, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I could feel my adrenaline pumping as the realization washed over me this horse was not the horse I had known. Not knowing what to expect, my heart was in my throat.

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

A Little Hitch

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  1. Yikes! that sounds like a real unnerving first go, you trained him but clearly they have made soem failry big mistakes with this horse, hope they are all manageable

  2. I often prefer "never ridden" horses to trained ones because you just never know what they'll do when ridden. That's too bad you have to retrain him. It sounds like he's a smart one though so hopefully, it won't be long before he's back to where he was before you sold him.

  3. One thing about horses is their forgiving nature; he'll re-remember where he is, and trust can begin anew (you just have some damage control to do in the meantime :o\
    I made the mistake of taking someone at their word [or words] "dead broke trail horse" a few years ago. Ha. Never again - sheesh what a rodeo that was *grin*.

  4. What a sad account of a scared and confused horse. Hopefully you can get him back with you with kindness and patience.

  5. Oy, looks like you're back to square one with this guy. What a shame.

  6. Thank you for visiting my blog. Had to take a peek at yours! I will be back to learn more on how Storm is doing!

  7. Thanks for stopping by and the referral of Holly at DogsnHorses blog. What a beautiful guy you have there, hope it all goes well!

  8. Wow, I feel sorry for horses like that, they just dont know what to expect. Im sure after a few rides, he will remember you and become the horse you knew once again.

  9. Hi MiKael, thanks for stopping by my blog. It's fun to find another blogging horse person - I'll be stopping by a lot!