Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Love-Hate Relationship

Mental age: 3
Actual age: 16 in April
Oh, my boy Red.  It was one of those days, wasn't it?  All I desired was a happy little ride, just to enjoy the day and the amazing weather in the 50s on February 16 in Duluth! I didn't think that was asking too much. Apparently I was wrong...

I knew as soon as Red & Rusty "The Instigator" wheeled and took off after coming to me & receiving their baby carrots that I was in for it today.  There are approximately 3 days every year when I cannot catch my horse.  I usually have no idea they're coming, and there hasn't been a pattern or trigger that I can tell.  Today was Day 1 for 2011.  The snow is still over hock-deep in their pasture, and its pristine expanse attests to the fact that they have been sticking to the compacted areas and not wandering around much.  I guess if you're not going to let me catch you, you can get a nice workout by trotting & cantering & galloping through that deep snow.  It was a great theory which I presumed would lead to efficiently obtaining control of my pony.  Not so much...  He and Rusty managed to cavort, kick up their heels, show me the whites of their eyes, froth & sweat, and generally flip me the bird for at least 15 minutes, at which point they were both breathing through hugely flared nostrils, sounding like monstrous bellows.  Red took one last half-hearted romp into the pasture from the paddock, realized Rusty wasn't following him, and then turned and walked right up to me.  Yep, that's my boy.  Ridiculous, really - and, I admit, kind of fun to watch them run.  Of course I had left my camera in the car at this point.

Once I had my sweaty horse in hand, I thought I might have a nice ride, since he'd already expended so much energy.  Oh, was I wrong!  I saddled (yep, SADDLED, BRIDLED, and used his MARTINGALE), walked to the end of the driveway, checked the girth, and hopped up (oh! what a stretch!  one side effect of riding in the bareback pad all winter, with which I require an elevated mounting device to get on, is that my legs aren't used to the  s_t_r_e_t_c_h  to get up to that stirrup.) We set off down the paved road, as it was mostly clear, and I wondered how the ride would go, given that Red has issues with "splashing" noises, as from cars driving through the melted snow puddles.  Well, splashing didn't even register on his radar today... but seeing a horse in the distance sure did!  Mind you, this is the same horse that has lived in the same pasture the entire 7 years that Red has lived at this barn.  Today, however, he slammed to a stiff halt, threw his head up as high as it will go, and snorted for all he was worth.  Alarm-snorted, over, and over, and over again.  He refused to budge.  Those hooves were absolutely glued to the ground.  I quickly realized that asking, telling, and demanding that he go forward was utterly pointless, so I dismounted, unclipped the martingale and reins so I could use the reins as a lead, and lunged him right there on the stinking road.  Useless exercise in this case, but it vented a little of my frustration with him so that I could proceed to hand-walk him the mile to my farm.
Here we are frozen as if by an alien ray-beam as he alarm-snorts and stares fixedly at a horse in the distance. Yes, a horse. In fact, the same horse that is ALWAYS here! The same road, pond, & pasture which we traverse countless times every year, for the past 7 years.  Really.  
Once we got past the freakishly scary HORSES, the gravel road was still solid ice, so I stayed on foot for safety's sake.  Once at the farm, he got to lunge in the arena for a while, until he was sweaty and huffing yet again.  Then, we set off through the deep snow toward home.  The snow is the texture of mashed potatoes (thanks, Christine, for that analogy - it's perfect!) and quite passable, though requiring a lot of effort to do so.  He was willing to move at this point (going home attitude), but also used the thinnest of excuses to rush, bolt, spook, and punctuate it all with yet more alarm-snorting.  We did make it home, unscathed.  I wish I'd had the heart rate monitor on him to know which got his heart pumping fastest - his pretend spooking at familiar things, or surging through that deep, wet, thick snow.
Ok, I love this view between my horse's ears even on a "bad" ride day (is there really such a thing?  At least I was out there!)
I love my horse, really I do.  I trust that he's not going to misbehave in a dangerous way.  I love 54 degrees in February with the sun shining.  But I hate these spring rides with a mentally unstable horse, and often iffy footing conditions that really require obedience and attention to one's hooves.  Trying to get his head screwed on straight while keeping us both safe is not exactly fun and certainly not relaxing. I'm exhausted.


  1. This was hilarious! I have to say, as someone new to the animal ownership world, I get a kick out of observing these kinds of behaviors in Louis. The other day, I brought him out to the dining room for breakfast just like usual, but instead of fluffing up his feathers and diving into his food, he stretched out his neck and slicked his feathers down and pumped his wings to show that he was very, very afraid of something. I could not quite figure out what that something was, but whatever it was (iron? pile of clothing? scattered newspaper sections?), there's no question he'd seen it before. It's just that this time, it took on a whole new menace!

  2. I'm glad you found it amusing! I was not amused. 1200 pounds of horse afraid of his own shadow is not pretty & cute like Louis!