Wednesday, March 26, 2008

That horse has the devil in him

My horse had a session with his trainer today — the first one in about two weeks, I think. Evidently, having to "work" again after two weeks off made him lose his mind, because he was a royal pain in the you-know-what.

Because he still seemed a little sore from yesterday, my trainer just lunged Panama. It turned out to be a good thing, because he was a devil-horse at first: He just cantered in circles around her on the lunge line for a good five minutes, without heeding her commands at all. Eventually he got tired of the line getting yanked when he didn't listen, so he calmed down and started following directions.

When she finished lunging him, my trainer unhooked him and chased him around a bit. He ran like the wind! By the time my trainer let him stop, he was the sweatiest I've ever seen him after a training session. (The warm weather — 70 degrees today &mdash probably contributed to that, too.)

We still had some time left, so we decided to take Panama for a walk. The barn where I have him stabled is literally 50 feet away from access to horse trails, so we walked him down the trail a ways. I'd like to get him out on the trails this summer, so we've been acclimating him to crossing the road and other unfamiliar things, such as bridges and streams and cyclists. So far he seems to really like being out on the trails, which are as close as you can get to complete wilderness in the suburbs of a big city like Denver.

After an ear mite incident — which I'll explain in a future post — I put Panama in his stall and gave him a handful of hay. This is part of our routine — he always gets a snack when I'm done messing with him, and before I return him to the pasture. While he ate, I talked to the stable owner, who was cleaning stalls.

Unfortunately, Panama chose this moment to experiment with a little more naughty behavior: He finished eating and was impatient to go back out to the pasture, so he started pawing and kicking the wall of his stall. I know where he got that from, because a horse that recently left used to do it. But I don't want my horse picking up bad habits like that, so all it earned him was a smack on the nose and a sharp, "No!"

The first time you discipline a horse it almost never sinks in, so we repeated this routine — kick, smack, "No!" — several times before he quit. I left him there for a few more minutes as I put his brushes away; he was standing stock-still, ears forward, watching me and waiting patiently, so I praised him (a lot) and took him out to the pasture.

I am going to try to get down there tomorrow too, since it seems he needs considerably more attention than he's been getting lately. Besides, I have his ear mites to take care of!

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