Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hunter -- 09/28/08

Today was the worst day ever for Hunter and me. I am typing with a dislocated finger because of our travails. My name must be Earl, because I guess Karma caught up with us to even out yesterday's great day. Either that or it is Newton's third law. Or maybe the second law of thermodynamics. They are all in effect today.

It went like this:

The family that will probably adopt Meghan has hired me to train them all to be good horse owners. Especially, they want their two girls, age 10 and 14, to become competent riders. So they all came, Dad, Mom, the sisters. After I trained the girls to safely brush Hunter and move about a horse properly, I went to the house to get a penicillin injection for mare Keisha, who has been 'snotting' lately. I thought it was a unique opportunity for them to learn about giving an injection. I was gone only moments and the mom comes limping up, white-faced and bleeding from a gash in her leg. She had run against a metal stake that held a newly planted tree. I grabbed the first aid kit and Scott dashed off to get my sister the nurse. She returned to dress the wound to ready the lady for the hospital. Keisha did get her shot, one child did get to sit on her, but it was not the joyful day I had hoped for. The poor mom ended up with 8 stitches.

I thought my mind was on working with Hunter after they left, but I guess it was distracted by the accident. I made a huge mistake. As I worked Hunter for the first time on the lunge on his near side, I snapped the whip to keep him moving when he tried to stop. Didn't touch him, just unthinkingly treated him like one of the seasoned horses. SwoooooTOCK! went the whip. In the air went Hunter. He banged his nose hard on the stud chain, jerked the lead out of my hand and took off.

I never, ever wind the lead around my hand and I didn't this time either. It was a freak thing. I was holding the end of the lead (I had been lunging him only at a walk on a long lead strap, not a lunge line) and the end that had been folded over and sewn somehow came through my hand with such force as to dislocate my left middle finger at the last joint. I have a form of arthritis that attacks my cartilage. Had this happened to a normal person, I don't think they would have been staring at a finger that now canted at a 45 degree angle at the tip. In the meantime Hunter is desperately wanting back in the fence and stomping on the lead, thus banging his poor nose even more and running like the devil wanted a bite out of him. So I grabbed the finger, reset it...ow ow ow ow OW.... and walked after the poor boy.

I never chase a horse. Keisha would just think it was jolly fun. Joe, our old Appy would run because he would be trying to escape whatever I must be escaping from. Ike would run because he would think he was going to get a beating based on his past. No horse I ever met responds well to running after them. So I went slowly to catch him. Oh poor little Hunter! Whatever happened to you that made you think I would kill you if you got caught? I have never been anything but kind to him and you would have thought I beat him hourly as panicked as he was. I finally was able to get him and he was visibly relieved.

We could NOT end this on such a bad note. I led him back to the training area where we continued with lunging for a few minutes without further incident. I then went to things he knew well so there would be excuses for lots of petting and praise, finally leading him into the pasture where he did everything politely. I released him and he literally thundered back to the herd and the comfort of his own species.

It was then I saw blood on me. Whose blood???? The poor lady's, or Hunter's or mine? I haven't figured out whose. I am a reasonably competent horsewoman and I still got hurt. The lessons? Keep first aid supplies handy;you never know when you will really need them. When things go badly in training - and they will sometimes - always drop back to a topic in which the horse can reach success so you end on a good note. Never have your mind on something else when training a horse....even a very good horse. That is the lesson I forgot.

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