Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bombay Meets a Llama

My horses and I had the whole day ahead of us. I wanted to trailer Bombay to the canyon to go on his first trail ride, but not alone, and my boys weren't in the mood to go for a hike. It's my hobby, and I don't want to force my husband and son to be my training wheels on this goal of mine. I decided to just ride Bombay in the round pen for a bit and think about what to do next.

My options were to trailer Bombay to the canyon by myself and ride him there on his first trail ride (not wise nor safe), trailer Bombay to the Fairgrounds by myself and ride him there (not knowing if there's some event going on), or bribe my husband to come with me to the canyon and help me chase away unrestrained dogs. (I have been asking around about that bear-grade pepper spray that Mrs. Mom recommended, but haven't found any place locally that sells it yet.)

I hadn't made up my mind yet and was loping Bombay in circles (while my mind went around in circles on how to spend the day) when my neighbor invited me to come ride on her property. She is truly a very generous and thoughtful person, but I hate to use her land all the time. I decided that was the way to go since she seemed interested in having my company while the boys preferred to remain home bound. It would save me the trouble of trailering and I'd still get to ride in a big area.

Upon reaching my neighbor's gate, we were greeted by two rambunctious weanling colts galloping all over the place, rearing and bucking. They were loose so that they could graze, so I had to be careful about opening the gate. I didn't want them to bust out. Bombay was on alert, but well behaved. I quickly opened the gate, sent Bombay through, and then turned around to swing it shut and latch it. One of the colts reared up and got his leg stuck over a fence on his way down. I made a sound of fear and exclaimed, "Oh no!"

Bombay stiffened up and became a ball of nerves. Amazingly, the colt was so agile that he just stayed upright on his hind legs until he was able to get his leg unhooked, and then he came down on all four legs and bolted to the other side of the property. I walked Bombay to the back paddock and lunged him lightly so that he could get used to the sound of those colts galloping around. The colts ended up just hanging out by us while grazing, and my neighbor sat down to watch me ride.

I put Bombay to work right away keeping his head in frame since he had plenty of time to look around when I lunged him. My neighbor's dog got annoyed when one of the colts tried to play with it, and the dog growled and barked, causing the colts to take off. Bombay didn't even flinch. Not so long ago he would have bolted and asked questions later.

My husband came over to watch me ride for a while. My neighbor's property is so relaxing. It is up on a cliff overlooking a llama farm. She breeds and shows Arabians, so there are beautiful horses everywhere you look. My husband just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery while I rode and demonstrated a few things I learned from my equitation lessons.

I was cooling Bombay down when I noticed a pretty brown llama standing tall on the other side of the fence. It was investigating what was going on. I think llamas are fascinating animals, so I was watching it while we were walking along. It suddenly hit me that Bombay hadn't seen the llama yet. The thing about llamas is that they can stand still as statues, and this one was doing just that. It blended in with its surroundings. I knew that all it had to do was turn its head, and that movement could take my horse by surprise.

I turned Bombay toward it and talked to the llama, trying to get it to move so that Bombay would spot it. He was still in frame chewing on his bit. The llama took a step toward us and whammo! Bombay's head shot straight up into the air and those ears were pinned forward. He had never seen a llama close up before.

I urged him to take a few steps toward it, which he did. The llama then took a few cautious steps toward us. This went on for a couple of minutes until both Bombay and the llama got bored with one another. The llama headed back down the hill to its friends while Bombay and I finished our cool down.

On our way out, the colts approached Bombay with their mouths clapping in submission. One of them kept poking its nose into his nose. Bombay looked like Goliath next to those little weanlings. My horse was gentleman and let the baby poke him without attempting to nip back. I then remembered (a little too late) that these colts had been sick. I didn't want Bombay to catch the lung infection, so I led him away. The colts followed. I couldn't risk opening the gate with them so close by, knowing how lightning fast they are. I tied Bombay to a post by the gate and shooed the colts away by waving my arms and clucking.

On the way back home I forced Bombay to walk through a puddle that he kept skirting around. He stepped right in on the third try. Perhaps some day we will be crossing streams together, but that first step has to start somewhere.

As usual, I didn't have my camera with me, so I'm just posting an old photo of Bombay, but it almost replicates the expression on his face when he first spotted that llama. Picture his head straight up in the air and his eyes and nostrils wide as can be.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

lol! I bet you know I'd be straight over here at the mention of a llama, eh?

Did you happen to to see the llama standing behind Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live?
I have the link to it on my blog. Too funny. :)

I'm glad you had a good day with Bombay :)


Train Wreck said...

Oh I love your story of your day. What a great neighbor! How nice of her to invite you over. Too bad about the photos! I would love to see all you were describing!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

You have been "ghosted" my dear Nuzzling Muzzles...come on over and pick up your tag.;)

Callie said...

You must feel great, making such progress! LOL, On the llama! I think those creatures are so cool!

Katee said...

I think the best part of this post is that you put Bombay to work right away. That helped him so much, I'm sure. Being asked to focus on keeping his head in a relaxed position and doing what you were asking him to do allowed him to NOT focus on those colts. Sometimes making our horses work is the best thing we can do for them.

Rising Rainbow said...

Dandy just got his first look at a llama here too and he was quite comical. I'll bet the photographer would really like to have seen such expression on his face during the photo shoot. So I know exactly the expression you mean.LOL

ranchette said...

haha. I got a good chuckle out of the mental image of Bombay and the Llama.

Jenn said...

I've noticed that my horses generally hate walking through puddles but will cross creeks and streams without an issue. I don't know what the difference is, but it almost seems like they know they have the option of dry feet with the puddle and know they don't with the creek.

Good on you (and Bombay!) for handling all the distractions so very well. What a big difference in him.

My personal horse "bugaboo" is a local sheep herd. They sheep aren't an issue as individuals, the horses ignore them. It's when the individuals become a big ole "sheep amoeba" and start moving towards us a one big ole baa'ing mass that the horses go fruit loops! Sheep are very curious critters and gather themselves up to check us out as we ride by. I never knew a horse could canter backwards up an embankment until we came face to face with the sheep amoeba!

Andrea said...

I think it's so funny how horses are so observent. How they don't naturally like llamas!! bombay sounds like he is doing awesome! All those lessons are paying off!

Le Cheval Endiablé said...

I was very interested in your post. It's rare a horse can meet a llama here.You have acted very well with Bombay.

Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

Lester saw his first llama at Auburn Unv. when he had his colic surgery over a year ago. The poor llama had a broken leg I think.

Less was actually more afraid of the cows than the llama though.:-)

Shirley said...

You and Bombay are doing great! It sure would be good if you had somewhere safe to ride, and a buddy to ride with. I know that feeling of trying to figure out what to do and where to go. There is only so much you can do riding in pasture without boring you and your horse to tears. I have no one to ride with here, but fortunately I love to ride by myself; just me and my little black horse and my two collies, hitting the trails is a good day for me.