Monday, May 30, 2011

The Rehabilitation of Storm....... Encountering a Troll.....

Part 1

Behind the horse barns there are two large camping areas that are for a couple of snowbirds who spend their summer months helping out at the park. They come with their huge RV's and park for free in exchange for hours worked keeping the park in order in the summertime. These spaces have been personalized by the people living there, more like small backyards than camping spots, really, with a low rail fence perimeter on three sides with an opening at the back for easy access to the woods.

To early in the season for the snowbirds to have returned, my friend decided to leave the woods through one of these spaces. She made her way through one of those openings in the fence on the back side. I looked at her line of travel and decided it was really too tight for the inexperienced Storm so I turned him through one space over. This opening was not only wider but it did not have the high bushes and trees on both sides like the other spot had. Although it was not completely devoid of fauna, there was a tree on the right side of the opening and some small bushes next to the tree.

We did pretty well going a different way than Dandy but Storm had his eyes on the big gelding the whole time. It was just as we went by that tree with it's bushes when it happened. Some strange troll in the form of a small shrub reached up and grabbed Storm by the hock. While the contact must have been brief you would have thought a real monster had grabbed the horse.

Storm leapt into the air and bolted. The force of his upward momentum threw me above the saddle and a startled utterance escaped my lips as my adrenaline spiked. I landed kiddywampus straddling the saddle with one leg actually up on the pummel. As the horse raced, I grabbed the horn and corrected my position. Luckily for me Storm ran right into the bit. The instant he felt the snaffle he rolled over and came down from the spook without much intervention from me because I was still busy fixing my seat.

The "bit" he hit was nothing more than the normal light contact I ride. When the horse threw his head into the air in terror, he hit that obstacle in my hands. Even though I was correcting my body position I had not relinquished hold of the reins and the dutiful horse responded in what I'd guess was about three strides from the feel of that contact. Considering the horse was in high gear, I'd say three strides was a pretty fast response from a terrified horse. It was over as quickly as it happened.

The only hint there'd been any problem was the sound of my friend laughing at my absurd utterance and Storm snorting and blowing and maybe the sound of my thumping heart. I turned the horse around to look at that troll and his eyes continued to bulge. I could feel the horse shaking between my legs just looking at that space. There was no way Storm was going through there again, or at least that's what his expression said.

When my friend could stop laughing, she asked if I wanted her to have Dandy lead the way. Knowing that would be the easiest way to get Storm back through there again, I agreed backing off just enough to give Dandy room. Of course, Dandy could have cared less about what had just happened, he walked on through that space more than happy to be heading back towards the trails.

Storm on the other hand, was not really sure what to do. He started to follow Dandy but it was like only his head and neck were following. His two back feet were planted firmly on the grown. As his body stretched forward, I squeezed my legs and Storm reluctantly stepped off from behind diving with his nose for Dandy's tail.

As we hit the actual spot where the troll had grabbed Storm, the horse scooched his butt underneath himself and scurried through the opening. My friend knew immediately what I wanted so she headed Dandy back through that space for Storm to follow.

This time I talked to him telling him to walk as we went through that opening. The horse crouched underneath me but walked as told although he did rush just a bit. This time I turned him around to walk through by himself and Storm accommodated the request although I'm pretty sure he wasn't all that happy about it. Three or four more times we walked through that place before we called it good.

I won't say that Storm totally relaxed because I don't think he really relaxed at all but it was as good as I was going to get. There was no point in pushing the horse for something that was probably going to take days to accomplished. We headed back to the horse trailer and got our horses untacked and headed home.

I don't think that Storm has ever been happier to see the inside of that horse trailer. Normally he's challenging whatever horse is inside making sure they know he's the man, screaming and striking. He just can't help himself. He knows he's going to get into trouble but he just has to push it until I chastise him.

But on this day, he sheepishly looked for Dandy to load behind him. Then I saw him nuzzle Dandy through the small opening where the feeder is and I heard a deep sigh. I'm pretty sure the big brave stallion was feeling more like an overwhelmed little boy looking for more comfort from the grumpy old gelding. Normally Dandy has no time for the foolishness of colts or stallions, but he must have sensed Storm's need so he quietly reassured Storm. There were no wild antics to correct. Just a very quiet trailer ride home.

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

Back to the Trail......

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  1. Congratulations for getting corrected and regaining your seat while still holding the reins! I think my heart would have been pounding, too.

  2. As exciting as it must have been GOOD BOY STORM!!! Wow! scared and royally buggered up as he was , he still responded nicely to the bit ! that says volumes about the horse and his worth, as well as his early training

  3. Stuff like that seems to stop just shy of heart attack, doesn't it? Glad you were able to keep your seat; and what a good boy to remember to "listen" even in mid-panic (it's because he's one of those supersmart Arabians, I'm sure ;o)

  4. Oh poor Storm and the monster bushes. I'm glad he worked his way through it for the day and maybe next time it won't be so dramatic.

    Where is someone with a camera when we wind up in positions like you were in at the spook. Glad you weren't hurt.Dandy is such a good horse for consoling him in the trailer.

  5. Great story. I'm really impressed Storm stopped so quickly when he was so frightened. And good for you for staying on and staying with the rein contact. Sounds like his training is coming along really well.

  6. Wow, that's some good training there for him to stop as soon as he hit the bit. Good job to both of you! Gotta watch out for those killer bushes.

    Dandy is a gem, he sounds like the kind of horse you want to make dozens of copies of.

  7. Good job in staying with it. Sometimes those are buggers too get righted when the horse is still in motion. No bruises from the pommel? Good coaching from Dandy!

  8. Oh my, those horrible horse eating bushes.... They are the bane of every horses existance you know.

    You might thank your lucky stars it wasn't here in the desert and not a cholla cactus. Because that would have grabbed him, then hung on. I know too well about those.

  9. Gotta hand it to the poor horse, at least he didn't keep going. :-O