Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boys in a Locker Room

I had another crazy morning with all kinds of hassles and unexpected problems coming my way, so when I alerted on the fact that the "boys" were face-biting again, I grumbled in frustration.  When I'm running around trying to get stuff done, the last thing I need is to have to race down to the barn to discipline rowdy horses.  I bought them a new Jolly Ball last week and within an hour they had it flattened like all their old Jolly Balls.  My husband said, "They need an old towel to play Tug-of-War with."

So, I tossed them a towel, and this was the result:

Gabbrielle kept laying her head across Bombay's back.  She was playing the role of the girl who the two guys were showing off for, and she showered affection on the one who looked like he was winning the Tug of War.  She even occasionally tugged the towel in Bombay's direction to help, kind of like pulling on an arm during an arm-wrestling contest.

Bombay tried placing the towel on Rock's face like a blindfold.  They also liked to twirl it like boys in a locker room so that they can whip each other with it.

I've been doing a good job fattening up my boys and slimming down my girls this past month.  I suspect that Rock is still growing and filling out.  That's one reason why I've decided to hang onto that saddle even though  the tree is a little too wide.

The game only ended when my husband and I started knocking down hay.  Then Rock left the towel to stand at the fence to watch.  He's a bigger hay-monger than Lostine.  Bombay and Gabbrielle kept playing with the towel.  I guess they weren't hungry.

I rode Rock in the round pen again.  This time I mounted without my husband holding him, just to see if the horse would hold still on his own.  He did.  I'm taking it slow since he's an unknown horse to me.  He received glowing reviews from the seller and his previous owner, but I still don't trust what people say, especially when they are motivated by money.

Both my husband and I saw a noticeable improvement in Rock's responsiveness, which means we are working out our communication issues.  I have no idea how he was trained and ridden by his previous owners, so I just have to keep riding him and working out my own language with him.  As expected, he didn't move up to the trot easily.  That was actually one of the reasons why we liked him.  We wanted a horse that is content on just walking along the trails.

Still I wanted to see how he was when I needed him to speed up.  I don't like kicking, spurring and whipping horses, so I began by clucking and saying the word "trot".  He knew I wanted something, so he sped up his walk.  Then I added my legs by just flapping them against his sides.  At that point, he trotted a little and I praised him, but as soon as I released the pressure he slowed to a walk again.  When I increased the pressure by gently bumping my heels on him, he threw his head down.  I couldn't tell if he was going to buck or if that was just what he did before moving up to the trot, so I pulled his head up, which of course slowed him down.

I'll have to pay closer attention to when I lunge him.  If he throws his head down during lunging before moving up to the trot, then I won't worry about it and will just give him some rein and let him do it next time I ride him.  I just know from my experience riding Lostine back in her spunky days that when she threw her head down before launching into the lope, it meant I had to hang on because she was going to try to buck me off.  I also know that if a horse is going to test me, it will be the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th ride on him.  The only time I've ever seen Rock buck is when he's playing with Bombay or if he's scared because the other horses are chasing him away.  I haven't seen him buck while lunging him.  He has thrown his head around and kicked out during lunging, though, so I know he can cop an attitude.

I have two headstalls for Rock, both came free with saddles, one has a brow band that is too tight while the other has a chin strap that is too short, so I have to oil them and stretch them out.  I also need to move some dirt around in the pen, because there is one section where the horses keep tripping.  In fact, I suspect Rock throws his head down to examine the footing before moving up to a faster speed.

The work never ends around here, but what really worries me is my early onset of persistent memory lapses.  With everything I do, I suffer some negative consequence because I always forget something I should have done first.  Today I forgot to take the dogs out to do their business before riding Rock, so when I returned to the house I got slapped in the face by the stench of Scrappy's poopsident.  There just doesn't seem to be any end to the calamities around here.


Dreaming said...

I love seeing horses play! What fun!
I am enjoying reading about your rides.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

By evening the horses managed to shred the towel into a couple of dozen tiny pieces, but what's really interesting is that they buried each of the pieces in the sand. I had to walk around with a manure fork to dig them all up. I suspect they probably were stepping on the towel pieces while pulling with their teeth.

Cindy D. said...

I never in a million years would have thought to give my horses a towel to play tug of war with. It is brilliant.

I missed the post on the saddle, will have to go back and read it.

Sam said...

We know that feeling well! While our horses are doing well, we are so distracted by other incidents around the house that we forget about doing things!