Friday, February 15, 2008


Apparently, I've been providing great amusement for all with my over-energized horse.

See, he's been being a brat lately. Not like "Mom I'm going to buck and snort and try to kill you" brat, but more like "Mom, I don't really feel like behaving completely, so I'm going to throw one crow hop at you while we're loping. It's ok though, I won't miss a stride." or "Mom, I feel like spooking at thin air, so hang on because we're going to make an abrupt right turn right there, and you know, I think I'll throw in a spin to show off how pretty I've gotten at them."

No, really. One jump at the lope, he never missed a stride. And the spinning, well, that's getting annoying. That and sidepassing are becoming his behaviors of choice when he doesn't want to do what I tell him to do. Although he is getting really good at the spin to the right, and I got a compliment from Marilyn for sitting in the middle of him during one of those episodes the other day.

Day before yesterday, I reached the end of my rope on it. So I went to the barn and borrowed a lunge whip, and we went to the round pen, and he got to run.

Well, apparently I looked a little angry. Here are some comments I got from the instructors yesterday:

"I could see the steam coming out of your ears from here!"

"You looked a little frustrated. And by a little frustrated I mean mad enough to spit nails."

"I saw you stomping off with your club."

My answer to the last one.... "I didn't beat the horse. I just reminded him who was in charge."

Of course, after a couple of false starts I didn't even need the whip until he started wearing down a bit. He listens pretty well in the round pen to voice commands and body language. Which frustrates the hell out of another girl in the class who has her horse trained to lunge outside the round pen, but has pretty much no control when she does.

Sure, her horse will go the direction she wants and lope, and she'll turn around when the girl wants... but she has no fine control. She can't slow the horse down, she can't trot or walk, and stopping is a matter of pulling on the line until the horse faces in to her. She was in the round pens yesterday when I was warming the brat up, and I caught her watching me as I worked him. The only times the tip of my whip came off the ground were when he would try to be lazy, or when I was turning him. We're still working on turning.

But, I can move him out at a walk, up to a trot, back to a walk, up to a lope, stop him and hold him in place on the fence, and then turn him, all while dragging the tip of the whip on the ground.
He won't lunge without the pen, but I've tried that exactly once. And, I can push him into a lope, and if he's on the wrong lead, I can bring him back into a trot and correct it, in the round pen.

Working Monkey across from that girl working her horse makes me feel better about the brat. He may not be the best conformed horse in the world, but he does learn quickly. It only took me about three days to get the basics of round pen work on him last semester, and we've been refining ever since.