Saturday, November 17, 2007

Monkey Vs Sparky, Rounds 2 & 3

And, why it sucks to be a know-it-all.

So, the day Monkey went home, Sparky got his second crack at riding him.

And got dumped... again. This time I got to watch.

Sparky saddled him up, got the bit in his mouth, led him to the arena, everything was fine. When Sparky went to mount up, Monkey started acting nervy, tensing up and backing. Sparky got into the saddle, and Monkey sidestepped.

Here's where things started to get hairy. See, Sparky hadn't gotten his right stirrup yet, and in his nerves, not wanting to cue the horse forward and set off a rodeo, he relaxed his legs just a wee bit much, and his right foot flopped against Monkey's side just a bit. Which made Monkey jump sideways. Which, since Spark was trying to be so careful about not setting him off, tossed Sparky to the side a little, which startled Monkey because, well, I don't do that, and he's not used to it.

These fairly minor errors were compounded by the fact that Sparky, being a nice guy, gave Monkey a lot of rein when he was mounting up, and since Monkey started going neurotic as soon as Sparky's posterior hit the saddle, well, Sparky didn't have a chance to gather the reins.

So, Monkey crow hopped a couple of times, and Sparky flopped around in the saddle looking a bit like a rag doll, and Monkey started to break in two. Sparky hung on until Monkey made the turn at the corner of the arena, where, apparently (I was at the wrong angle to see this) Sparky's foot got caught in the fence and he was pretty much dragged out of the saddle. Which sent Monkey hightailing it to the other end of the arena.

Well, I hopped off the fence and called Monkey, and he came trotting back over... until the kid that was there for an interview for the program decided to come "help," that is. New person, nervous about this horse that he'd just seen unload someone, Monkey wasn't coming anywhere near him. So I asked him to stay where he was, walked about ten feet away and called my horse. He came right up to me, (snicker) I grabbed the reins, and asked Sparky if he was ok. He kind of shook himself all over and said yeah, I checked Monkey's legs, cause it had looked like he was gimping, but it was just a bit of a muscle strain from getting so excited when he wasn't warmed up, so I asked Sparky if he wanted another shot right away, or if he wanted me to throw a leg over first.

He asked me to ride first, and I set the reins (a lot shorter than he'd had them, while explaining why you always have a short rein on a horse you don't know, especially if you know the horse might blow up on you.) Of course, Monkey was wound and decided to back away when I went for the stirrup, so I kept him backing until I was satisfied, and made it my idea. Then I mounted up, and Monkey went all nervy again. I didn't bother with my other stirrup, just told Monkey to quit his shit, his ears swiveled back and he realized who was on him, and he relaxed all over. (snicker)

We loped a couple of circles, he chilled out a little, and I rode back to let Sparky get on again.

Lets review. Sparky has been on Monkey a total of two times. Both times Monkey managed to get him off. Monkey is, at heart, a pain in the ass. You have to convince him that he's not going to intimidate you, or get you off, or even if he does, he's going to have to work twice as hard when you get back on.

Yep, Monkey tried him again, and in between laughing I called advice to Sparky.

"Bwahahahaha! Hey! Get his head up! Pull on them reins, boy! He's not gonna listen if you don't get mean about it, he thinks he's got your number! Snort! Chuckle! Stick with him! Don't let him do that shit! Kick his ribs in, make him run instead of bucking! That's it! Hahahahahaha! Hey, wait! Don't yank on his head when he's rearing! You'll haul him over on top of you! Good! Now kick hell out of him, make him flat out run for the other end of the arena! Pull him up now.... now trot.... now walk. Good."

Sparky won, finally, and we all got a good laugh.

Then I went to find Ed, since he'd said he'd ride Monkey to see if it was just Sparky, or all men. When he offered, he was fairly relaxed about the prospect, since he'd witnessed Monkey taking a cow up the rear hard enough to lift his back feet off the ground, and not blink an eye. Once I told him Sparky got dumped again, Ed was a little more nervous.

He made me hold my horse when he mounted up. He then proceeded to take Monkey around the arena a few times, tell me how hard mouthed he is (hey, he's better than he was!) and dismount, shaking his head that Sparky got thrown, and muttering about "this horse doesn't buck."

Then I rode Monkey some more, to give him a good work out, and got cautioned by one of the HTM sophomores "Don't run him to death!"

This is the same kid that told us, when we were working with Diablo on loading in S's tiny trailer, that we needed to push him in. Since we'd already established that when pushed from the rear or pulled from the front too vigorously, he simply refuses, and we were working on making him want to go in the trailer, we thanked him for his advice and sent him on his way.

On this occasion I simply stopped Monkey (A beautiful stop, if I do say so myself) turned him in a circle, sidepassed, stopped, looked at the kid and said "Take a look at this horse. Is he breathing hard? Is he sweaty? Does it look even remotely like he is getting tired, let alone being run to death?"

"Well, no."

"This horse moved cows for over eight hours, going a good fifteen, twenty miles, in the process. At the end of the day his main concern was that he was hungry. I've been riding this horse all semester, he's gotten at least a half hour more exercise than the rest of the horses in the class, and more often an hour more, and I do mean exercise, and he still wasn't tired at the end of it. I think I know more about what my horse is capable of than someone who has watched me ride two or three times."

Monkey helped me get my point across, since half way through the speech he decided to start dancing in place, eager to keep going. I don't let him flat out run much. It's a treat for him, even in the arena. We made about four more circuits and he started slowing down on his own, so I pulled him to a slow lope, and started cooling him out. The know-it-all in question was watching, so before I dismounted, I gave him a couple of nice, shiny roll backs, nice and snappy, to prove that Monkey wasn't dead, and we exited the arena with dignity.

Which I spoiled by giggling when I heard Mr. Know-it-all say to the other person in the arena "That horse wasn't even breathing hard, and she ran the shit out of him!"

Thank you, thank you. Someday, Monkey and I are going to enter an endurance race, and kick some ass.

Cleaning House Today!

Today I will be cleaning the apartment, and getting it ready for me to be gone for a week. Cleaning out the fridge, getting rid of trash, triple checking all the window locks, clearing out the DVR so that I don't run out of room, and all that stuff.

I've decided to be a typical college student and take my laundry with me to the Old Homestead, and do it there for free, rather than pay two fifty a load here (a dollar twenty five for the washer, a dollar twenty five for the dryer).

So, that eases up the amount of stuff I have to do, but I still have a kitchen full of dishes, and a carpet full of tracked in dirt and wood shavings from the barn. Plus I need to get ahold of my old boss today and find out exactly when she's planning on selling the mare she wants me to ride through the sale, and discuss the plan for that, because frankly I need the money.

I've done pretty well with my financial aid money, I think. I've made it most of the way through the semester on just what was left over after my classes, but, what with food, and rent, and food, I'm just running out of money. I'm probably going to spend part of my time over the break throwing the smackdown on Red, so that I can sell him when the mare goes through.

He's a challenge that I was happy to accept when I had the money to spare, and if I knew someone would be there that was capable of riding him next semester, I'd keep him and let the program use him, but Sparky has decided to switch tracks and abandon us, so I can't guarantee that anyone else would have the skill required. So, unless he undergoes a major personality change when I start working with him every day, he'll be going back to the sale, hopefully to net me more money than I paid for him, since I plan to make him show better than he did when I bought him.

In the mean time I'll be bringing Legs up for next semester, and getting her rode down some so that she's useful to work.

What with Ed training Etta, by mid-spring or so we should have three horses that are rideable, and won't give too much trouble. Although, I want to do some watching and some extra curricular training on Monkey before I pronounce him trained, since I've discovered that he simply doesn't like Sparky. More on that in another post, it's too entertaining to tag on the end of this one.