Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wild, Crazy Horse

She's wild, she's nuts... she's... not quite dead.

Etta is a doll. I've been trying everything I can to get her to spook, or even show serious displeasure, and aside from a few "mare days" where she hasn't wanted to do anything, she's been an absolute dream.

The only thing I've found that makes her really unhappy (other than a stiff poke with the spurs, which is a no brainer, and only makes her hop) is water from the hose. She doesn't like the fly spray, but it doesn't totally freak her out. The water thing is easy enough to fix, there's a round pen with a hydrant next to it, and enough pressure on it to reach the far side. I'll just let her out in the round pen and spray her until she quits spazzing one of these weekends.

I can hang off the side of the saddle while she's walking... nada. I can whoop and holler, rattle the gates on the bucking chutes in the rodeo arena, swing a rein, slip behind the saddle and sit on her butt, lean forward over her neck, lean back on her butt (Mamaw has some pictures of me standing around in class, feet out of the stirrups and hands on her butt, if I get them, I'll share)... anything. As long as she's not having a colt/mare day (they're pretty much the same thing, one is from being young and the other is from being female, some of ya'll know what I mean) she doesn't care.

You can even ride double on her. This afternoon I was playing around and had one of the girls get on behind me. After I smarted off with "she doesn't buck hard, when she bucks" the girl decided we were closer friends than she thought, and wrapped both arms around me to hang on to the saddle horn, but other than keeping an eye on the proceedings (she climbed the fence to get on, rather than using the stirrup, since it's easier to go slow that way) Etta was pretty ok with it. She wasn't positive she was supposed to move, but with a little encouragement she stepped out and walked quite nicely.

I don't see us going doubles very often, she's just not big enough to do it very much, or for very long, but it can be quite useful if another horse goes lame to have one that will carry two, when you're out in the middle of nowhere.

Tomorrow or Saturday I'm gonna take her in the round pen and see if I can't get on her bareback. She's doing quite well with neck reining, as long as I'm paying attention and don't try to rein on top of the martingale.

She's also far more compact and nimble than I'm used to. Marilyn has been having us move our horses over by doing large circles, coming in to small circles, and then floating back out to the large circle again.

Lemme tell ya, Etta can do a small ass circle. Sometimes it feels like we did more of a roll back than a circle, and when you ask her for it, she really digs in and pushes with her hindquarters. It's another of those things that I'm not used to after riding Monkey, with his long strides and much less drive from the hind, and I never could get the Old Man to work quite that well... he didn't think I was ready for it, and he was probably right.

All in all, she's working really well for me, and Mamaw should be proud.