Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My 850-pound toddler

I haven't ridden since my lesson last Thursday, when we worked on obstacle training.  With Mother's Day and a whole lot of other things, I've just been too busy.  I had a farrier appointment yesterday, and I really thought about riding afterward, but I ultimately decided I wasn't feeling like it.  The wind was up and so was Panama, and I just wasn't in a mood to deal with that.

I wanted to share a funny story, though.  I often say that having a horse is like having a thousand-pound toddler (or 850 pounds, in my case, as Panama is a small horse).  Yesterday I discovered yet another way in which this is true.

I was on the phone with Michael while Panama was in the cross ties, and he was fussing and fretting all over the place: pawing at the ground, whinnying, shuffling around, pooping, you name it.  It was after the farrier appointment and I think he was pretty tired of standing around in the cross ties.

He is often fussy when I talk to someone while he's in the cross ties, and one of the things I do is to hold a handful of small rocks and tossing them in his direction if he starts pawing or rearing and stops responding to "Quit."  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not throwing them hard enough to hurt or scare him, just enough to ping his shoulder or make a little noise when they hit the wall.  If I have my gloves in my hand sometimes I'll chuck one of them at him instead.  It works -- he'll usually stop fussing and stand there quietly for a few minutes.

Yesterday, though, none of that was working.  Like I said, I think he'd just reached the end of his patience.  I hung up with my husband, put away the phone...

...and Panama immediately quieted and stood nicely, ears pricked expectantly, in the cross ties.

Now, I know that he doesn't understand telephones or anything, but this is the same behavior I get when I'm chatting with someone who's right there, so I think he probably does understand from my voice and lack of attention on him that it's a similar situation.  Panama seems to feel that when he is in the cross ties, he ought to be the focus of my attention, and all of those behaviors are the equivalent of a toddler acting out when Mom is on the phone.  In fact, I suspect he even poops in the cross ties in order to get my attention, because he knows I'll have to come clean it up.  It's just too coincidental that he poops any time I walk away for a few minutes!

Horses are such funny creatures, aren't they?



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