Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jewel -- 09/16/08

I just don't know what to do with this mare. I've been nothing but kind and gentle with her and she remains distrusting and explosive. She's been lunging so well lately (I don't journal every night of lunging, cause how boring would that be) that tonight I thought I might try lunging her with a saddle. I was told she'd has the saddle on before, but had bucked like a bronco so no one ever got on her. Can't say that I blame them, I'm not sure I'm crazy enough to get on a bucking bronc either. But things have got to progress at some point, or this mare will never find a good riding home. And she's simply too young and healthy to sit around being a pasture ornament for the rest of her life.

I always try to take the approach of pretending nothing is out of the ordinary. Don't coddle. Don't move slow like there's something to be afraid of. Just act normal, like the horse has done this "new" thing 1,000 times already. This didn't work tonight when it came to walking up to Jewel with the saddle pad in my hand. I had her tied with a slipknot to a sturdy fence post where we haven't put up new fence yet, so there was nothing for her to get caught up in if she panicked. At 10' away the whites of her eyes started to show. At 7' she started tossing her head spraying spittle everywhere. At 4' she reared up and fell over backwards. Wow.

Once she stood up, I stepped away and gave her a few minutes to calm down. I put the saddle pad down and approached without it. Still that wild-eyed look of distrust, but she let me approach and I have her a pat and a head rub. Then walked away. Approached again. The whites of her eyes were now gone and she was starting to calm. One more approach without the saddle pad, then I picked it up again. But this time before approaching I tried the ancient and traditional Indian Saddle Blanket dance. About 15' away I started dancing around and tossing the pad up in the air, making much fuss and noise as I did. I completely circled around a few times and mostly she just looked at me like I was an idiot. Without stopping I started moving my circle closer and closer until I was about 5' away. She was dancing a bit, maybe in tune to my hiya hiya hoya hi Indian chant. By the way, it looks like it's going to rain. I may be on to something.

At that range I keyed down my blanket tossing and just moved it from hand to hand as I circled. I made an effort not to look her in the eye the whole time, as I did not want to be the predator. I just wanted to be some crazy human chanting for rain. I think I accomplished that. I kept my eyes to the ground (which was more of an effort to keep my klutzy self from tripping than anything else) and eventually made it to her head and stopped holding the pad up to her nose. She took a step back and snorted at me, then stepped towards me again and sniffed the pad. While she was still inhaling the pad smells I backed away and went back to my rain dance at about 10'. This time she was more curious than afraid and even risked life and limb to take her eyes off of me a few times. You never know, the crazy human could have launched a saddle pad attack at any time.

We did this four times. FOUR. But by the fourth time she was bored. She didn't even want to sniff the pad, so I just put it on her back. Simple as that. I gave her a pat and a treat, took the pad off, put it back on. Pat and a treat. Took it off, put it back on. Pat. Took it off, let her go back to eating hay. I'm sure tomorrow I'll only have to do the rain dance three times. Maybe by next week, I'll be rain dancing with the saddle. All I can say, is that I'm thankful none of the neighbors can see our place.

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