Monday, September 15, 2008

Hunter -- 09/14/08

I thought I was going to take today off from training Hunter due to soreness/laziness from the 5 hour trail ride yesterday, but an opportunity presented itself.

Up my driveway, on a 4 wheeler, came a kid. Not just any kid, but a TRAINED kid. I had saddle broke my niece, Veronica, 2 years ago at age 10. Although her mother, my sister, had just sent her over with sutures, I conscripted VV for training. Before going on, I should explain that my sis is a very good nurse, and my prime source of medical treatment due to me working on the farm with very little sense of mortality. In the past 3 years that I have lived across the way from her, I have broken a toe, greenfractured a leg, broken a pinkie, severely sprained 2 ankles and a number of other fairly minor injuries. Having saved me from these perils as well as the latest - cutting the tip of my thumb nearly off with a meat slicer -she forsightedly sent over sutures in case I ever needed stitches. Anyway, she just loves blood and gore so I am making her happy periodically.

I ask Veronica how much she weighs now. "I'm a fatty," she replies, "I must weigh a hundred now." Hmmm... half my size...don't talk about fat to me you little stringbean, I think. She gets a leg boost up bareback on Hunter, who by now is standing quietly tied. I'm glad I have been pulling his mane and otherwise training him for this moment. I am also glad I make new riders learn bareback because this was old hat for her. Hunter was interested, but not startled. He wasn't sure if he should actually walk with her on his back, but we took it easy and he hesitatingly, then with more confidence, moved with her astride. We stopped after only about 3 minutes of this, because he is still growing.

Next it was 'swarming' training. VV listened soberly as I instructed her. "I want you to act as if you have never seen a real, live horse before. Start over there and come at us all excited-like making noise. Then a few feet out , stop and come in quietly like you are supposed to, and pet him. OK? Go." Suddenly this kid comes squealing "A pony! A pony!", windmilling her arms and flopping her legs about. Central casting could not have given us a better actress. I don't know who was more surprised - me or Hunter. I swear if I had been sitting down, he would have jumped in my lap. But he never bolted or was out of control. He clearly trusted me to save him from this dervish if saving was proved necessary. I did my best to act like it was no big deal, but I wanted to laugh hysterically. Where's the video at times like this? We did this a number more times, each time with VV getting closer, and Hunter still somewhat shocked at this bizarre behavior but not misbehaving. Finally, she was able to run straight to him. I had her do it just once more and this time , unbidden, she flung her arms around his neck and buried her face in his mane. She was smiling like an angel, and he calmly turned his head toward her with dreamy eyes. OK, maybe the dreamy part was wishful hopes for his future, but the rest of the tale is the way it actually happened. I couldn't have scripted it better.

-- Anastasia

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