Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another Fall Show

Went to an open show today and saw some interesting things. My human and Lula and Voltare’s human have struck up a friendship and decided to go together to a show this weekend. Lucky’s human was invited too. We loaded up in the big four horse wheeled cave and headed over to the show grounds. We had been bathed and blanketed the night before and Voltare was simply an unbearable snob. I wanted to put my hoof in his head! Lula torments him mercilessly and it just drives him into a rage. Hard to believe they are half siblings. Lucky stays completely out of their arguments. He loves Lula but is too shy to even speak to her and Voltare scares him to death. Just to be ornery I always take Lula’s side, which makes Voltare even madder.

We arrived at the show and Lula’s human and his herdmate tacked up Lula and Voltare while my human and Lucky’s human tacked us up. Lucky and I were just going to school our humans at this show, so there were no major nerves. When we came from around our side of the trailer Lula and Voltare were tacked up and their human’s dressed for their events.

Lula was lovely. She does the saddled seat and her human looked very dapper in her three-piece outfit and funny little head covering. Lula’s flaxen mane and tail were all shiny and creamy. Lucky stood there, drooling and unable to move, looking at her like a besotted fool.

When I looked at Voltare I almost gasped. He was stunning. He was tacked up western, with a saddle that was loaded with shiny plates. His bridle and reins were covered in more shiny beads. His bright red mane and tail were no longer braided and wrapped, and instead hung down shimmering and wavy. If he were a mare I would have fallen in love! Even our humans whistled admiringly.

We set off for the show ring, stopping to talk with other horses and humans we knew. Lula was in the first classes, so we watched her show. Voltare took his human over to the warm up ring, so we didn’t have to endure his snide comments. When Lula came trotting in the ring, knees lifting high, white stockings flashing, I thought Lucky was going to fall over from yearning. Lula’s human is a very trim female and she is a brilliant rider. She offers support instead of dominance. Her hands were light on the required double reins and her seat was so secure she didn’t hinder Lula’s rapid trot in the slightest. It was a joy to watch them both. They won several classes and then did a combination class where the horses were ridden and then stripped off. I have to say that even after a few hours of riding Lula was just as brilliant.

After the saddled seat classes were over Lucky and I walked over to the warm up ring. There was a break in the show while the smoke monsters dragged the arena. We walked and trotted a bit, warming up our humans for our afternoon classes. We passed Voltare several times, but he was concentrating on his human and paid us no mind. I may be a tease, but even I know better than to distract a horse that is in training mode.

When the next classes were called it was for Voltare’s western classes. We wandered over to watch and met Lula and her human at the rail. Lula had been untacked and hosed off and she was so fresh and pretty looking! The first class came in and Voltare immediately stood out. Not only was he one of the few Arabians, but he was also one of the few horses with his head up high enough to see where he was going. Lucky and I glanced at each other in confusion, and he shrugged as if to say he had no idea what was going on. Voltare moved along at a sweeping jog, his head vertical and his human with a bare amount of contact. Most of the other western horses had their heads near their knees and had to look up through their eyelids in order to see where they were going. It was most disconcerting to watch.

When a canter was called for (by the funny western term “ lope” ) Voltare stepped right into a floaty rear-driven canter. Most of the rest of the class staggered around doing four beats and never really getting into a true canter. Some of the horses were even cantering with their hind ends two tracking inside of their fronts. It was hideous. And their poor mouths! Every other stride seemed to bring about a hard tug from their humans. Lucky and I glanced at each other in horror! If my human tugged on me like that she would find herself with a more than passing acquaintance with the ground!

While watching we paid some attention to what our humans were saying and came to understand that in some cases the judges did not like how Voltare moves and would placed the head dragging, canted horses over him. I was appalled. First for the poor horses and then for the fact that judges would reward such hideous movement.

Thankfully, it seemed that this was not one of those judges and Voltare won the class. Second place was a lovely Morgan fellow that was ridden by a young female human. We didn’t get to watch too many of the western classes, thank goodness, or I might have found myself with a sympathy colic going on, because we had to finally get ready for our hunt seat classes.

Lucky has come a long way since he arrived here last fall. He is now fat and shiny and has a quiet confidence that bespeaks his easy nature. His human has really bonded with him and has forsworn ever parting from him. He now looks like a very collected, showy hunter with a solid background. We watched him when his division came up and his human did him proud. He got his first blue ribbon! He was so proud and his human was crying up a storm. When the announcer relayed how he was a rescue horse he got a big round of applause!

After a few of Lucky’s classes, and right before my division started, tragedy struck. We were outside of the entrance gate when a big thoroughbred mare was having trouble with her human. The human kept sawing on the reins and the mare reared up, obviously trying to rid herself of the lout. The human responded by whipping her several times across the haunches and in defense the mare kicked out.

It happened so quickly that those of us near the gate could not get out of the way. My human had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of the kick. It was hard too; I felt it through her leg and the saddle. I jumped to the side and the mare swung the other way and lashed out again. By now I was just concerned with getting my human away because I could tell she was injured. Lucky’s human came running up and grabbed my reins, although why she thought I was panicking is beyond me.

Lula’s human came up leading Lucky and Lula and cleared the way around us. My human said she’d rather ride back to the trailer and Lucky’s human kept exclaiming over the hoofprint on her boot.

When we arrived at the trailer Voltare’s human helped mine down. She hobbled over and sat on the side of the wheeled cave. Lula and Lucky were quickly tied up, but I refused to leave my human’s side. Voltare’s human very carefully pulled her boot off and whistled when he saw the purple blotch on her leg. Lucky’s human finally gave in to the fact that I was not going to leave and untacked me where I stood. While we were waiting for Lula’s human to come back with some cold stuff the show manager came up and asked my human what happened. She got an earful. I almost turned roan when I heard the mare’s human described! His poor mother, whatever did she do to deserve such commentary?

Once the show manager got the report on the incident she left, saying some more roan inducing words and giving me the impression the mare’s rider was in serious trouble. Lula’s human returned with a bad of cold stuff and placed it on my human’s blotch. She moaned and I almost fainted in fear that she was dying! She must have realized how stricken I was because she reached over and patted my nose, telling me she was going to be fine. I finally let Lula lead me away to the other side of the trailer.

We returned home a somber group. By the time we arrived at the barn my human could barely hop out of the rattletrap. Lula’s human helped put Lucky and I away, while Voltare’s human unloaded the trailer. Lucky and my human left in one of the rattletraps, I hope to take my human to her stable for the night. I’m sure I’ll find out tomorrow. More later.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dealing with relatives

We are still in barn four while our barn is being re-floored. The barn manager decided once the aisles were level again that they needed to be covered in that black smelly tar stuff. I hope the smell goes away soo,n because the entire area reeks of it. It is so bad that even the cat beast has shown up in our barn, yowling in disgust and spitting at everyone that even looks at him. Nasty thing.

I had two strange revelations this weekend.
I am firmly convinced that humans that can be handled by horses are born and not made. They either have the capacity to interpret signals and understand body language or they don’t. If they don’t then they never acquire it later. For example: My human has a female sibling. This human is nice enough, a little flighty and very vocal. She “loves” me. It’s a good thing horses can’t barf or there’d be chewed hay all over my journal right now.

Anyhow, the human sibling came out to the barn with my human to visit. She does this a few times a season. Not only did she kiss my nose, but she also kissed Lucky, Trooper and Shorty. Trooper rolled his eyes like the snob he is, but since his human lavishes such affection on him all the time I know he was just putting on a show. Lucky looked bewildered at being grabbed and kissed by a strange human, but being a gentlehorse, like myself, he didn’t blow his nose in her face.

Of course I HAD to be brought out into the aisle and gushed over. My human and her sibling brushed me and chatted. It was hard to endure. Unlike the times when my human talks with Shorty’s or Trooper’s owners, where the main gist of the conversation is about us, or other horses, these two talked about NOTHING but other humans. Humans they knew, humans they didn’t know. Humans that star in MOO-VIES, whatever those are. Humans they liked, humans they hated. I’m surprised their tongues didn’t turn blue from over use. It made my ears hurt from the swiveling as they moved around me.

Once I was brushed my human saddled me and led e to the outer paddock. I knew what was coming. I was in for the horrendous chore of giving a ride to someone that has no knowledge of what riding is about. It’s bad enough when the herdmate rides me once in awhile, but the sibling is even worse. My human rode me first and the sibling shouted out non-stop comments about how pretty I was, how cute my human was, how wonderful the weather was. Ugh, I wanted to jump the fence and run away.

My human finally halted me next to her sibling and dismounted. Then she gave her sibling a leg up. Why is it that people that don’t ride always collapse onto the saddle like it is some kind of tree trunk to lean across? This means more weight on me, as well as pushing the saddle over towards the right side. The sibling finally pulled herself upright and poked her feet into the stirrups. Then she grabbed the reins like she was holding a live rat in each hand and was afraid to bring her hands closes to her body. She then clucked to me. I could not restrain the eye roll that had me viewing my own brain.

Off we went, my human walking not too far from my side, and shooting me warning looks that made it very clear to me that if I dumped her sibling I was going to be carrotless for the rest of my life. I sighed and ambled around like an old plow horse and we had no major incidences. Thankfully the sibling does not lug on the reins, instead she grips them tightly, but leaves about a foreleg’s worth of slack in them. I amused myself by imagining what my stable mates would do to her in a similar situation. Shorty and Lucky would probably tolerate her. Trooper and Pebbles would remove her from the human breeding pool.

Things were fairly boring until the sibling went to dismount. Instead of kicking her leg over the saddle and then kicking her other foot out of the stirrup and sliding down, as is proper, she kicked her leg over and stepped down. As her foot hit the ground I heard a loud ripping noise and then she shrieked. I did step to the side quickly and heard another rip, as well as feeling her tug on the stirrup. My human caught my reins and then hurried to help her sibling get her foot loose.

When the sibling was upright, and no longer attached to me, she looked back over her shoulder and wailed like the cat beast. She turned around to show my human her backside and my human almost fell over laughing. The entire rear of her butt covering was ripped open, showing a strange undergarment that was yellow and black tabby spotted and had strange writing on it. What does SEXY mean? We returned to the barn, the sibling trying to walk with her back to me, which was interesting to watch, but kind of creepy. She stopped at my human’s wheeled cave and got out an outer garment and tied it around her waist, letting the ends hang down over her rear. Odd look, but it did cover up the big rip. My human kept breaking into brays and had to stop and wipe her eyes a few times. Her sibling was not amused.

I was quickly untacked, brushed and put away. My human and her sibling kept talking about a dinner with their sire and dam, as well as some other siblings. I wondered if the rest of my human’s siblings were as backwards as this one, and then hoped I would never find out.

Once in my stall I was confronted by my OTHER relative problem. During my talks with Lula, the Arab mare, we discovered that we shared some of the same Arabian ancestors. She was delighted. I was too, until I realized that this made me related to Voltare. Her dam and my dam shared the same grandmother, a Polish mare (I had no idea I had Polish ancestors, I always just thought they were just Arabian) that was imported to this country from somewhere called EWEROPE. (I pray the cat beast does not find my journal, he will torture me mercilessly about my bad spelling if he sees it.) Lula was very interested in my Appaloosa ancestors, and even knew a great deal about them, from her talks with other horses. She stated that we were CUZZINS, which means we are related, but not as close as siblings. Voltare whickered at me nastily and stated that I was no relative of his; I was obviously adopted from a plow horse family. The snotty bugger needs his tail snapped off. My ancestors are just as good as his!
I resisted the urge to be snide back to him, after all, one of us had to show some breeding.

Lula told me to ignore him and that he had a bad case of “high head’ which I took to mean he’s very snobby. He is, and one day I’ll catch him in the turn out pen and show him what a horse descended from the horses that flourished in Old West can do to a delicate creature such as himself. Lula is much more friendly and behaves like most Arabs I know. Voltare must have suffered a few too many kicks to the head as a foal. More later.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moving day

This week has been filled with turmoil. The barn manager decided to re-floor the barn I stay in and all of us were moved over to barn four. My human came out on moving day and helped the barn manager and Lucky’s human move us over to the other barn. I was not happy. I have been in the same stall since I moved here two years ago.

Not only were we moved, but also our trunks and tack, as well as the kittens in their box. My human had brought her kitten out to visit his sister and brother. My human has named him Goblin, following the strange human begging tradition that Trick and Treat were named after. He has grown quite a bit and is now leggy and very fuzzy. All the kittens were placed in their half-a-trunk and they tumbled around like little beetles, mewing and being cute.

My human led me over to barn four and deposited me in a stall next to a tall chestnut Arab. I was distressed that I would not be between Shorty and Trooper. Instead I ended up next to Lucky and Trooper and Pebbles were on the other side of him, with Shorty across the aisles next to Kressa.

After we were settled in I tried to make conversation with the Arab next to me. I was “informed” that his name was Voltare and that he was “pure Polish”, whatever that meant. I was then regaled with his credentials and exploits and given the impression that he thought rather well of himself.

When he finished speaking the mare across the aisle gave a huge horselaugh. She informed me that her name was Lula and that Voltare was nothing but a snob and a pretender. He whickered at her evilly and kicked his back wall, but she just sneered at him. I decided that perhaps I could spend a few days separated from my previous stall mates, just to hear some juicy barn gossip.

Lula made some more cutting remarks and Voltare went into a rage and started banging his feeder. He then declared both of us cart horses and went into the far corner of his stall to sulk. Lula whickered again and leaned her head over her stall door to tell me more “dirt”.

By now Lucky was leaning over his door, intrigued with the gossip. I must say that Lula is quite a delightful looking mare. She is also Arabian and a bright golden red with a flaxen mane and tail. She was tall for an Arabian mare and very typey. Lucky couldn’t take his eyes off of her!

Lula informed us she was also Polish, but only half, and the other half was just plain old regular Arab. I told her about my Arabian ancestors and we had quite a nice discussion on family lines. Lucky remained enraptured and drooling, staring at Lula’s golden locks. Lula flirted with him a bit, but he was too bashful to even talk back to her. Lula then informed us that Voltare was her half brother; they have the same dam, but different sires. They co-owned the same human and had to share him. Lula snorted at this and stated that she knew she was the favorite. Voltare kicked his walls again and muttered something nasty about “sire was a plowhorse”. Lula snorted and called him a prig.

My human and Lucky’s human returned with more trunks and tack. I could see that it was going to be cluttered while we were staying there. From listening in on their conversation we found out barns one and two were being re-floored and the horses were all being moved into barns three and four. Some of the horses were going to be put in the pastures with sheds during the time the barns were closed and others were going to stay in temporary stalls in the indoor arena. I didn’t realize it was such a big job to re-surface the barn floor, but I guess the barn manager was going to make sure it was done properly.

Foot Ball came in with the last load of stuff and yipped hello to all of us. He sniffed around, slobbered on the kittens and then followed the humans back outside. This made me wonder what the cat-beast AKA Lollipop, was going to do while all the construction is going on. I hope he gets hit with a shovel! I must find a safe hiding place for my journal in this new stall. I must run for now, I can hear the feed carts rolling up. More later.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fun show day!

We went to a local show yesterday and it was really fun. I love it when my human is able to enjoy a show without the stuffy confines of formal dressage. We decided to show hunt seat and do a few fun classes.

Since this was an open show there were all kinds of breeds there, including the tiny little horses that call themselves “minis”. Some bigger horses don’t like minis, but I’ve never had a problem with them. We have two minis that live in barn four and they are cute little things. For the longest time I feared the wheeled monster that chases the grey pony around would get them, but so far they remain uneaten.

Since there was a group of us going we rode over in the barn manager’s huge wheeled cave. I hate this thing! The ramps are really high and you end up riding face to face with the next horse loaded. Trooper, Lucky, Pebbles, Shorty, Kressa and I were loaded in the front and back stalls and then Mariska and Flashy, the Arabs from barn four, were put in the middle stalls. I didn’t think we’d ever get going because Flashy was such an idiot about getting in the wheeled cave.

When we finally arrived it was close to start time so our humans scrambled around, whining and bumping into each other as humans do, and got us all brushed and saddled. Right before we were finished a small human led a pair of darling minis past us, between our wheeled cave and the next one, and Flashy went crazy, sat back and broke his lead, and went galloping off around the grounds. The minis were vastly insulted at his display of stupidity.

Shorty’s human finally caught Flashy and lead him back, sweaty and not the least bit contrite for causing trouble for the rest of us. Our humans mounted up and we headed over to the show rings. This show grounds is set up with two rings that have their rounded ends towards each other. If you stand in the grassy area between the rings you can watch what is going on in both. That is what we did.

Shorty’s human was doing western events; his herdmate had decided she was too nervous to try her English skills out at a show. We watched him do some reining patterns and this funny event where you run really fast around big metal trashcans. What an odd thing to do. Kressa won a few walk/trot western classes. I don’t see how anyone could beat her, she moves so slow moss could grow on her.

Lucky, Trooper, Pebbles and I went in the hunt seat classes. We were all so proud of Lucky when he placed second in a really big class, right behind Trooper. He’s come such a long way since he arrived starved and abused last year. I won a ladies hunter class and a few hunter over fences classes. Pebbles won all the open jumping classes, but then again, she always does. She's fast and has a scope of the fences that even Trooper can't match.

While we were waiting outside the ring for our classes to begin I was able to watch the other show ring. This was where they were having the pony and mini classes. I must say the ponies are outstanding jumpers; some of those small fellows can really pop over a fence and they have taught their humans to stick like ticks.

The minis were showing their humans in hand and it was really fun to watch them gait their humans out and show how well they could turn and stop. After the in hand classes they had an obstacle course class. I had never seen any like this before. The ring crew set up several obstacles; a bridge, a jump, some rails on the ground and a big circle drawn in chalk. The mini would then enter with his human and go through the course in a set pattern. I was amazed at the daring and skill of the minis! How on earth had they trained their humans to do such obstacles and remain so quiet and focused? There was one little palomino mini that had a darling little palomino haired human with him. You could tell he was very proud of her looks and abilities. He lead her through the course and she never put a single foot out of line, nor hesitated. When they finished the course by hopping over the fence they got a huge round of applause! I was so impressed. I must confess to wondering how difficult it is to train a human to work in hand. I doubt I’d have the patience.

Thankfully Flashy and his human stayed on the other side of the ring, so we had no more runaways. When we finally met up again the two Arabs had placed well in their classes, I think it’s called saddled seat, and were pleased with their riders. We were all pleased that our humans had done so well and had enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the show. Shorty did have a few harrowing moments though. His human had participated in something called a “greased pig” contest and as a result he smelled like a sty. Shorty was grateful beyond belief that his human had not won the contest, because he was NOT going to share his stall with a pig, even if it was a prize pig. All in all it was a pleasant day. More Later.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Dear Tuffy

I am writing to ask you a very personal question. I'm sure you've never heard this one before.
My human is spoiled rotten. I've spent so much time indulging her whims and giving her everything she wants that I just can't control her any more.
She asks for a lead change and she gets it. She asks for an extension and I immediately comply. I can't seem to say NO! I want to, but she is so cute and helpless that I give in every time.
Because of this I work almost every day. Yet I see other horses in the barn that get out of work by acting nasty, being stubborn and refusing fences.
What can I do? I need a break and I don't need the endless repetitive training.

Worn out and at the end of my rein

Dear Worn,

You need to grow a spine and stop being a stall matt. First off, you're making the rest of us look bad. We don't want to work that hard and neither do you. Secondly, our humans are going to see you and immediately want all of us to be just like you. It's not going to happen.

I have developed my own method for keeping my human respectful and on her toes. I call it Good Horse/Bad Horse and she never knows which one she's going to be dealing with from moment to moment. If I perceive that she is having a bad day I am usually Good Horse, because making her bad day worse means less treats for me. However, if she appears at the barn and is a bit too euphoric I immediately decided to dampen her enthusiasm. Why? So she'll appreciate my Good Horse days.
Because I'm a helpful horse I'll provide you with a few helpful hints to make your owner appreciate your good days and be respectful of when you want to have a bad day.

1) Miss a lead in front of a judge, and do it so it looks completely like rider error. This isn't difficult and makes a real impression on the rider and the judge.
2) Pretend you don't know what a transition it. Nothing like a good session of trotting around the arena like a chicken chasing a bug to make your human wish for one of your good collection days.
3) Lead ropes are for leading. So lead your human exactly where you want to go. Nothing like a good session of walking down the drive while your human tugs futilely on your lead while you graze and swish flies.
4) Remember horses are the rulers. Shun anyone that doesn't believe this.
5) Put the true meaning of lunge in lunging.
6) Forget what whoa means at least once a week.
7) Loading in the trailer is optional unless you're heading home.
8) Group rides mean larger opportunities to act in a manner that will embarass her to her toes. Do a good enough job and you'll never be subjected to another group ride again.
9) Water is a natural barrier as scary and inpenetrable as a wall of fire. Don't cross it unless you're heading home.
10) Bath time is a group sport.

I hope these tips will help you on the start of a new life. Remember the rest of us are counting on you to uphold our standards.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Meaning of Collection

We had a busy day today. The barn manager hosted a riding clinic for the beginner Dressage riders and I got to be used as a demo horse. Trooper’s human took him in the clinic, even though he is really an advanced horse, because she’s working on some of her issues, so Trooper didn’t mind. Lucky and Pebbles were also there, as well as some of the horses from barn four. The surprise entry was Shorty! We were stunned when he walked up.

Shorty is a dear horse. He’s a bit short and plump but has a good heart and he’s a bold fellow. He’s a good friend and a great trail companion. His human is what other humans call a “cow boy”, which is a term that confuses me because he looks nothing like a cow, or even a boy cow. This cow boy also has a new herdmate and she’s the reason Shorty arrived decked out in an English saddle to learn about Dressage. Shorty rolled his eyes at me and then looked stoically ahead. I could tell he was embarrassed, but willing to go along with the human on his back.
The human giving the clinic was unknown to me, but it seemed all the humans in our group recognized his name. He was a shorter human and had one of those funny pieces of hair over his lips. Odd custom, I can’t imagine how one would graze with such a thing.

We all started out on the rail, single file, at a walk. After several rounds of him yelling at all of us we started trotting and finally cantered. He really started picking on Shorty’s human and I could catch glimpses of Shorty’s ears pinning.

He finally pulled the class into the middle of the ring and had Trooper and I do demos of some lead changes and transitions. Trooper does the move beautiful downward transitions I’ve ever seen. I was proud of my human for getting on her cues on our lead changes. She really has come a long way. We returned to the center of the ring and the instructor started asking individual riders to go to the rail and work. Things went fairly well for a while. He was fixing riders’ legs and their hands or telling them how to cue their horse.

Then something I feared would happen occurred. Shorty and his human went out to the rail and the instructor immediately started complaining about the rider’s lack of contact. I cringed, as did Lucky standing next to me. Contact with the bit should be so minimal and such an illusion that the horse feels as if a thread were being pulled. If humans only realized how sensitive our mouths are and how much we feel just from a finger twitch. We watched in growing horror as the instructor kept shouting at Shorty’s rider to increase her contact and drive the horse forward.
The contact increase, but the drive was lacking, as Shorty got slower and slower. I felt my human shifting uncomfortably and realize she was not happy about the situation either.

Finally, the instructor called Shorty back in to the center and asked the human to dismount. He then announced that he would show her how to achieve proper contact. I heard Lucky’s human say a few roan-inducing words under her breath and mine tensed up so much I had to root the reins away from her.

The instructor mounted and turned Shorty back to the rail. He was explaining what he was going to do to the group of riders, all the while showing the different hand and leg positions. By now Shorty had dropped his head and his eye had a decidedly stubborn cast. I think people underestimate horses like Shorty a lot of times. They are smaller, but very strong and catty on their feet. And though they are small they cannot be bullied.

Once on the rail the instructor set his legs on Shorty’s sides and pushed him forward. Shorty extended a little, but his head was getting very stiff and he wasn’t really using his rear end. Had I been able to I would have covered my eyes with my hoofs. Every few steps Shorty would slow down and tuck his head. He’d also drop his hips. This resulted in a flurry of kicking from the instructor as he drove his seat into the saddle. He must have kicked too hard at one point, because Shorty lifted into a canter and went down the rail, head tucked, and tail wringing.

The instructor did what most humans do when confronted with a speeding horse; he snatched at the reins and sat back. Shorty stopped like a wall had dropped down in front of him. He sat down so hard I swear his hocks hit the dirt. The instructor went up on his neck with a thud and we could hear the air whoosh out of him. When he was finally able to sit back up he gathered the reins and made as if to pull Shorty away from the rail. He then found himself spinning like a small whirlwind, clinging to Shorty’s neck for dear life. We watched in horror as the poor human clung to the side of the quickly rotating horse, unable to stop the spin or let go for fear of being trampled. Shorty finally stopped spinning and then he proceeded to back several steps very quickly. The human was draped over his neck like a large rumpled horse blanket that has lost its leg bindings. Shorty had the decency to wait until the human was upright and in the saddle again and then he very sedately walked back to the group and stood next to his human’s herdmate.

The instructor, by now an alarming shade of red, dropped off the side of the horse, almost collapsing when his feet hit the ground. When he was able to stand upright he offered a one-sentence explanation for his failure to achieve collection: Reining Horse.
I could feel my human’s legs vibrating against me and knew she was silently braying. Lucky’s human had to slip off and pretend to check the girth she was so amused at the discomfiture of the instructor. The instructor finally recovered what was left of his dignity and sent us all back out to the rail. He offered a few words of advice to Shorty’s rider, but didn’t mention anything about contact again. Wonder why? (nicker)

We returned to the barn tired and sweaty and all of us got a refreshing rinse off. Shorty was fairly morose until his human’s herdmate kissed him on the nose and called him the best horse ever. He perked up considerably after that. We all got carrots and a lot of petting. Trooper’s human asked questions of the other riders about certain maneuvers. She really is a nice human and I’m glad Trooper has finally found someone he can get along with. I think his biggest problem is that he is so well trained, and most humans won’t listen to his advice. But isn’t this the problem with most horses that undertake training a human? More Later.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What's in a name?

The cat beast has been unbearable lately. He is incensed about the new kittens ( he rudely informed me of my misspelling after reading my journal over my shoulder). He has hissed and spat at them every time he sees them out. The barn manager has created a bed for them in an old tack trunk, which is too deep for them to climb out. The lid is missing so we can see into the bottom and watch them. The humans also take them out to play with when the horses are all in their stalls. They are cute little balls of fluff and very playful. The barn manager has named them Trick and Treat after some strange human custom. Trick is the solid black one and Treat is a light chestnut with stripes.

After the humans left this evening, and before it got too dark, we horses stood at the corners of our stalls and talked about the kittens and our humans. Trooper and I had our stall guards up, so we could see into the aisle. Pebbles has a stall door that is missing the grate, since one of the students tied her horse to it and then spooked it backwards. The grate has been removed, so Pebbles can stick her head out. Shorty and Lucky had to content themselves with peering through the bars.

While we were talking the Jack Rustle Terror dog came up and sat down outside of Pebble’s stall. This surprised me because he rarely talks to us, more often then not he is running around yapping and tormenting the cat beast or chasing the rattletraps down the drive way. He stood on his hind feet and looked into the kittens’ trunk, and I was afraid for them until he leaned down and licked their heads and yipped at them. They purred and seemed to enjoy his attentions so I ceased worrying.

We discussed their rather odd names and the Jack Rustle Terror Dog informed us that they were named after a human custom that involves going to different human dwellings and begging for treats. What strange behavior! I’m a rather accomplished beggar, but I can’t imagine going to another barn and asking a strange human for food. Shorty seemed very intrigued by the idea; I could see the greed in his eyes.

The dog yipped as he does when he finds something funny and then told us that his own name came from another human custom of chasing each other around and fighting over a ball. His name was Foot Ball. How strange humans can be, especially when owned by animals.
This led us to a discussion of our “registered” names and our barn names. My barn name is of course Tuffy, but my registered name, the one that tells my ancestry, is Coborr On The Spot. My grandsires were famous horses in the Arabian and Appaloosa breeds. I also have a smattering of Thoroughbred ancestry. Pebbles said that her barn name and registered name were not so different since her registered name is Sand Pebbles. Shorty spoke up and said his registered name was He’s Dun Magic, something that he gagged over every time he heard it announced. Trooper sighed and said his registered name was So Gallant. He despised it and liked his barn name much more. Lucky neighed and said he didn’t remember his registered name, and would probably have to wait until the next show to find out what it was. We all agreed that his human would probably use it at the next show and removed the mystery.

We heard some faint hissing and looked up in the rafters to find the cat beast staring down at us with disdain. The kittens huddled together and Foot Ball moved closer to them. The cat beast hissed again and Foot Ball yapped back at him, then he glanced around and asked us if we knew the cat beast’s real name. We were all blank, having never heard him called anything but Kitty, or various roan inducing words used when one of his “surprises” was found in someone’s tack trunk.

The cat beast yowled in a rage and hissed some more, which only set Foot Ball to yapping with amusement. He looked at all of us and said: His real name is Lollipop. We remained blank looking until Foot Ball explained that a lollipop is a human treat made out of sugary stuff, formed into a ball and put on a small white stick. He said the cat beast was such a fat kitten with such a long slender tail he looked like something round on a stick, so that is how he got the name. We all looked from the dog to the cat, each trying to picture the long rangy beast as a fat round kitten and I’m sure we all failed. He noticed our inquiring looks and hissed even louder, making threatening growls. He finally stalked off amid more threats and abuse. Foot Ball went off into a barrage of hysterical yaps and that set us off. I’m afraid we got quite noisy with our enjoyment of the cat beast’s ire; shameful to say the least. Shorty snorted several times and repeated “ Fat Lollipop”. I knew he was going to torment the cat with it. Well it was his hay manger at risk, so who was I to interfere? We finally settled down, each lost in his, or her, own thoughts, about humans and their vagaries. More later!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dear Tuffy,

I am almost embarrassed to write you, I'm sure no one else has this problem. My human is a complete dolt. She coddles me and baby talks to me and like a sugar cube addict I take everything she gives, but I don't respect her or listen to her. In fact I walk all over her and ignore most of the stuff she tells me. I am ashamed to admit it. I used to be so disciplined and a true competitor, but her slack ways have led me down the bridle path to gluttony and laziness.
The sad thing is that I can sense her frustration with me, but she keeps "feeding" my poor behavior by rewarding every bad thing I do, and trying to "reason" with me with no show of control. I love her, but I resent what she is enabling me to become. What should I do in order to fix my human before it is too late?

Out of Control and Hating It

Dear Out,

I suspect that the only fix for your human would be to lend her a spine or break her toes with a well placed foot. She's got to be taught that respect must be earned and it does not go hoof and hand with love. You have got to quit rewarding her bad behavior with slobbering greed and insincere affection. Buck up big guy and turn down a few carrots. Show that you are a horse with integrity and refuse to take the easy trail. If you don't you may find yourself getting shunted off to a very stern taskmaster and your easy life will truly be over. Just tell yourself everyday that there are 12 Hoofbeats to a Better Life. Every step you take towards solving your own dilemma will make you a happy healthier horse.
I also recommend you start nipping her when she hand feeds you. Nothing brings a human back to their senses like a few teeth marks.