I posted this guy’s head shot before because he’s cute, now I’m posting it because he’s the newest addition to the herd:
I guess we should wait and see what his personality is like before giving him a name, but I was dying to call him Tater. His racing name includes “Yam” and his mom was “Sweetpotatopie,” plus I really like the word “tater.” In any case he travelled all the way down to NC yesterday to live at the near Southern Pines location, along with Cecil who is going to the trainer down there.
The other new arrival is a very tall and lanky fellow we’re going to call Palmer. At least, he actually came with a built-in “nickname” so may as well keep it. He’s by Quiet American, has twelve starts and last raced April 2. I think the owner had taken him back to the farm for a bit before he came to us, as he’s already barefoot and has the look of a TB who has not adjusted to being out of training. He has lost some weight and is a little shell shocked. Like most newer horses off the track, he doesn’t have the world’s best social skills. So he keeps finding himself pushed around by the other horses and has to figure out how to fit in. He also doesn’t want much to do with people, which is just fine, as it’s fairly normal and we find that after a month or two they turn around and start wanting attention again.
Of course, while I know that it’s totally normal for them to not want to be around people (especially when turned out on 40 acres full of delicious grass and lovely wallowing spots), the part of me that’s twelve does not accept this. Back when I was a kid I was often convinced (as many horse crazy kids are), that I had some special and unique ability to win horses over with Love. Like, of course he will be my friend! I will win his trust! He will come around and learn to looooove me! Nowadays we call this “Black Stallion Syndrome” – but as much as I sometimes mock it, I still have this disease, and to prove it I spent about twenty minutes wandering around the field with Palmer yesterday, intent on getting my hands on him.
I might be the world’s biggest dork, but I did it by just sort of staying in his space but at a comfortable distance. Chattering at him like a moron, I would crouch down and pick dandelions, or turn around and pet other horses, always working my way closer till that comfortable distance wasn’t too large. A couple times he got interested in me but then would turn around like, “no, lady, people always want stuff from me, and right now all I want is calories.”
Pfft. No self-respecting sufferer of BSS would take that as the final answer.
In any case at one point I found myself close enough to touch his shoulder, which I did, and he didn’t move. So I started looking for itchy spots (any true sufferer of BSS knows that’s the way to a horse’s heart, even more so than treats). A couple times he turned and looked down his nose at me, an almost surprised look upon his face (BSS sufferers are also prone to anthropomorphism). He seemed to enjoy a couple spots on his neck being rubbed so I concentrated on those, and then eventually on his forehead, which he seemed to like. After a few minutes, though, he turned his head and wandered off, and I, fresh from my success at creating a magickal bond, let him walk off. He’ll be a cuddler in no time, I’ll make sure of that. 🙂
The two fillies from last weekend seem to be adjusting very well to life on the farm. The young bay filly, who is now being called “Lily,” is already an attention hound in the field, coming right up to you as soon as you walk out into the group. The last few months of attention seem to have spoiled her a little. 🙂 While it’s nice, we do also have to occasionally remind her of the bubble of personal space surrounding us. She’s sweet, but she’s a big girl and is going to mature HUGE, so when she gets a little too close – while it’s cute now – it could be a problem (especially as she had a few brain freeze moments on Saturday that had her rearing up in the air – no intention to land on us or anything, but she’ll need to mature a little mentally I think! And she may be a bit of a handful to get started).
The other filly (actually she’s 5, so I should call her a mare) has definitely figured out group dynamics and seems pretty comfortable with the other horses (I don’t know if this is easier for mares than it is for geldings? She’s definitely not suffering the way Palmer is, and seems to have inserted herself right in the middle of the pecking order, and isn’t freaked out by getting pushed around). That said, she still wants no real part of people. She’ll stand and pose, and act interested, but is out of town if she thinks you want to catch her.
I’m sensing this girl may be another princess type, like Sister. Speaking of which, sort of by surprise, I ended up spending some quality time with Sister over the weekend as well. We’ve had lots of requests for more video of her, under saddle and on the ground, free jumping, etc. For some reason we get more inquiries about her than any other horse in the program. But because she can be a little difficult at times, I need at least one extra set of hands to do any video or pictures of her, and I’m careful about when I ride her. Sometimes, like yesterday, circumstances don’t feel right. There weren’t many people around and it was a blustery and windy day, and all the horses were a little goofy.
At the same time I felt like I at least needed to work on some things so when we did get a good day to work on this, we’d be ready. So I brought her in, found a lungeline and some jump equipment, and we had a little work session. First we worked on basic lunging – walk, trot, and halt in both directions. She seems to go into defensive mode very easily (for instance, if she didn’t listen to “whoa” and I was a little sharper with the next attempt, she’d get close to acting out). So I made a point of rewarding her as much as possible for the right answers. After about ten minutes she was listening pretty well to voice commands and acting like she was listening and attentive, so she got lots of pats.
The next thing I wanted to try was a little free jumping, or at least an introduction to the idea. With limited equipment it’s hard to build a chute, so I was limited to a single small jump with some guide rails. Sister wanted nothing to do with this, even when it was just a pole on the ground. The space is a little large and difficult to work with, so I reattached the lunge line, and practiced leading her over the pole, then lunging her over it.
I eventually put the jump up (very small) and we just worked in hand on walking over it and then trotting over it, as well as going and stopping with me, without me having to use the lead rope too much. What’s interesting is that by the end of our little in-hand obstacle course session she seemed genuinely attentive and interested, in a sort of “what’s next?” sort of way. She’s definitely a very smart mare, and because she pays so much attention it becomes even more critical to be super consistent and very clear with her.
Before putting her back out I had to take care of a cut on her hind left pastern. Wound care is one of Sister’s hot button issues. She does NOT like you touching or cleaning or messing with something that hurts already. In the past this has resulted in half-cleaned wounds and no wrapping due to me wanting to keep all my parts intact. I must reiterate that she’s NOT aggressive – she just wants no part of it and if she can’t get away by trying to move away from you, she’ll switch tactics and try to move INTO you.
So I grabbed a tub of antibiotic ointment, got her standing, and moved back to her hind leg. Before I’d even crouched down to get near it, she spun away and began backing up. Instead of chasing her backwards I moved to her side and got after her to move forward instead, until she was circling me at a pretty brisk trot. When I asked her to stand she immediately tried backing up again, so we had to repeat the process a few times. Finally I asked her to stand and she stood still. I went back to her back leg and felt her start to shift her weight, so I growled at her (which may sound funny coming from me, but she listened to it). When I applied the ointment she did lift her back leg, but made no move to kick. I held her foot for a second and rubbed around the injury, then put it down and gave her loads of pats and praise. So I’m thinking we made some progress. 🙂
Unfortunately I have no idea when I’ll be able to work with her again or get video. We leave for Rolex in a few days, and the few days I have left are pretty booked solid as I have friends in town visiting and various other obligations. Always busybusy…