Monday, September 17, 2007

My good horse

So, over the weekend, whilst I was on the old homestead helping (or, actually, attempting to help) Farmmom and Farmdad move the cattle, I had to have someone taking care of Bubbah.

I asked E to do it, and he agreed. Upon my arrival back, during our Horse Production class this morning, I asked E how he was. The response?

"That horse is psycho."

"My horse is not psycho."

"He's spooky, he pulled back when I went to untie him, he twitched every time I touched him..."

"When he spooked, did he try to run away?"

"No, he just jumped a little."

"I see. Did he pull on the lead when he jumped?"


"And when he was pulling back, was he fighting? Or was he just moving back a little when you came to his head?"

"Well no he wasn't fighting..."

"And when you touched him.. he didn't freak out, did he? He just twitched his skin a little?"


"You know, when I bought that horse he had about the same amount of rides on him that the colts do when they leave the program here. It was also the first time he'd ever been to town. He's been handled, to my knowledge, by a total of four people.. five, with you. This is the first time he's been handled by anyone but me, and for a few minutes, Miss C over there when I was hosing his legs down, since he came here."


"So, he's not psycho. He's young, he's inexperienced, and considering all of the facts I think he did pretty danged good with a brand new, never met him before handler, don't you?"

"Well, yeah, but you need to get lots of different people to handle him!"

"I know. But too many people are scared of him."

*Sigh* He's an excellent boy, he's doing as well as any of the other, supposedly "well broke" horses in the program these days, and better than a couple of them.

We did have one moment in class today where I wondered if he was going to listen.. and if he hadn't it would have been a Very Bad Thing.

See... over the weekend, E had tied Bubbah out at the hitching rail to clean his stall. Z proceeded to bring his horse out and tie him right next to Bubbah.

Z's horse has a reputation for kicking for no apparent reason.

Yep. Bubbah got kicked.

He's fine, no swelling or heat anywhere, so it didn't even bruise him, but he didn't like it.

Well, today in class we had all been gathered up to listen to instructions, and as I was letting the horses on either side of Bubbah peel away, up comes Z on his horse, right in front of us. And he's letting his horse push into Bubbah's personal space bubble.

Bubbah reared up a little, and held himself there for a few seconds, while I just tightened the reins a little, tried to keep him from striking out, and said in a calm, reasonable, soothing tone...

"Get that kickey piece of shit away from my horse before he starts a fight."

I can't blame Bubbah for challenging that flea bitten gray (no, really, that's what color he is) after he'd been kicked, and the gray did get into his space, so Bubbah didn't get reprimanded too hard.

But.. once he reared up, he'd started to strike, until I collected him. Once my hands were in contact with his mouth, he stopped. He didn't drop back to all fours until the gray was moving away from him, but he didn't strike out with his forelegs.

He ignored his instincts, which where screaming at him to use a measure of force to push this horse out of his space, this horse that had already kicked him when he was tied up and tried to assert its' dominance over him, and listened to me.

He's a good boy, and he's learning things nearly as fast as I can teach him.

But I couldn't ask for better manners, already.


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like you and Bubbah have a good relationship building.

I'm not sure I'd have called the other guy's horse a "kickey piece of shit" because I'm not in the habit of badmouthing horses. However, I'm not sure I wouldn't have cussed out the other horse's owner for creating a hazzard.

You know, all of us have a choice of where we go. You and the other riders and instructors can choose to be there and ride. The horses don't have a choice. So I have to wonder what the flea-bitten gray's owner was thinking in either incident.


Farmgirl said...

That horse is steadily proving himself to be a hazard. He's gorgeous, but he's got a bad attitude, both in the saddle and out of it, and the kid that's riding him only takes him to task for the crap he pulls when the kid is riding.

He also keeps tying him near other horses, even though he knows that the horse kicks. If Bubbah had had so much as a bruise on him I'd have beaten the little idiot.

But yes, due to rider neglect, and the horse's attitude, the horse is a piece of shit. Even for all of his great conformation and striking coloration, I wouldn't take him to work with unless someone was paying me for it, and I'm notorious about wanting to see if I can "fix" critters.

BTW, the gray is a "program" horse... someone donated him for the semester. We have more of those than owner ridden horses, around. Some people do it because they're that nice, and they send horses that are just pretty danged good. Some of them do it because while they're here, we work on fixing some of the little problems that can crop up, and they have hopes of getting back a better trained horse than they sent. So when I talk about a rider, that would usually be the kid that's riding that horse for the semester.

Anonymous said...

I started to say I thought if the program horses were owned by their riders, then the riders might take better care. Then I re-thought it because I can't tell you how many owners I see at the saddle club here who ruin their horses and don't even care. The barrel racers and gaited "exhibitors", as a group with exceptions, are the worst. FWIW, I have a habit of choosing who I hang around with based on two things: their attitudes and their horses.

Another thing I thought of... there's that old saying about "pretty is as pretty does". Two horses can both look real good and be like night and day. But then I go back to the owners I just mentioned, some of whom ruin their horses and try to justify it by saying "horses are dangerous". I recall reading Monty Roberts' book and he basically said the reason horses are dangerous is the people they're around. I say that realizing what you've said about Bubbah being young and from what you've been telling, he's realizing more and more that he can look to you and listen to you and you'll take care of him.

Whoever the gray's owner is, if they donated him for training, I'd guess they're going to be badly disapointed.

mustanger... again.

knitalot3 said...

Have you guys ever met a horse that was just so wild/angry/untrainable that it wasn't worth your time?

I bought a two year old filly once. She had only been halter broke and not handled much since. My mom and I got her into the trailer in about 30 min. just coaxing her. She went through 30 days of being "green broke". She was very ridable and sweet. A little mischievous, but not bad.

Her half sister was purchased at the same time by a friend. A group of about 4 people had to *put* her into the trailer. If I remember right, she banged herself up. After 30 days at the trainer, the trainer recommended another 30, but said she didn't have strong hopes.

I kind of lost contact with that friend and horse after we left the training stable. I did hear tales of her bucking, biting, and kicking though.

From what we were told, both of these horses had been together since birth and had experienced much the same environment.

I would have thought that couldn't be right, but I know the other filly received kind care from the trainer and my friend. It didn't seem to help.

ps. I always had to smile when my friend would brag that she got the "pick" of the two fillies. HA!

Holly said...

Sounds like Bubbah is responding to you and your training.
I'm no big horse-woman, but it sounds reasonable, from a psych point of view, for Bubbah to have responded like he did to the grey's intrusion into his space, based on their last encounter.

Sounds like that "kid" needs to pull his head out of his nether parts so he can see daylight and get a clue as to the effect his and his horse's actions are having on the other riders and horses.

Anonymous said...

knitalot, I'll be interested about Farmgirl's take on this one, but you know, every horse is different just like people are different. Some will respond differently to the same positive/negative treatment.

I recall this mustang mare I had... the trader I bought her from- he and his wife are friends of mine. She told me she tied her to the trailer and put the saddle on her to let her get used to wearing it. She stepped back and the horse came unwound... the saddle went flyin'. She told me that after the horse and I had already gotten comfortable together. My mare didn't like a lot of the personalities she was around and most of them didn't know how to deal with her personality. A lot of those are the horse ruiners I mentioned before. Now, granted, I didn't get to ride her before she had a fatal accident in July of her 5th year, but she was my best friend.

Now, between those two fillies... the two half sisters... if I were dealing with them, I might say one's a good one to ride and the other might be one I'd bet some of these idiots they can't ride. But that's just me and, in your horse's case, I wasn't there.