Friday, December 9, 2011

DixieAnne

It was my first "real' training job.

I was the official trainer and riding instructor at a small boarding and breeding barn in Green Mountain Falls CO.

The couple that owned the stable was friendly, outgoing and opinionated. The Chief and Madge were strong believers in the foundation lines of quarter horses and students of primitive color. They stood a buckskin stallion and bred for color.

The look of their horses was a familiar comfort and they were patient with my lack of experience in the current show world. I was good enough to run a small group of students, could start a nice colt, work with a rank broodmare and was more than willing to learn the ropes from the young trainer that was preparing their stud for the IBHA show circuit . We seemed a good fit.

One of my first duties was to work with Madge and her mare DixieAnne.

     "DixieAnne is a special case," the Chief told me. "She's a well bred mare, with plenty of Poco Bueno top and bottom. She seems to have some problems with her way of going. Madge is extremely fond of her and wants to show her, but they've got a long way to go before we can put them in the ring."

Madge came into the barn with a proud strut, leading a coarse, large boned mare with a pretty face and a bright expression. The mare's shaggy winter coat hid her so-so build, but her extreme cowhocks were a standout no matter what the season. Her tongue was in constant motion. It worked busily around her muzzle, reaching for the shanks of the mechanical hackamore, wiping out her nostrils, or just wagging back and forth, slinging a steady stream of slobber.

"This is my DixieAnne," Madge shouted. Her wizened, monkey face lit up as she slapped the pale dun mare's neck. "Isn't she something?"

I took a sip of my coffee in order to delay making any comments that could end my job before it had really started. I scrambled to find some suitable compliments. DixieAnne didn't seem bothered by Madge's habit of hollering every word that came out of her mouth. She even seemed to enjoy Madge petting her with the same enthusiasm, whacking her hard on the neck, shoulder and butt while cutting loose with her air horn praise, "Good girl, DixieAnne, good girl!"

"She seems like a nice, level headed horse." I managed.The mare stepped into me and used her bony head to whack my hand so hard she flipped my cup of very hot coffee back into my face. I was saved from being burned by the spit bath that covered me. The malicious gleam in DixieAnne's eye told it wasn't the first time she had played this little prank.

"Ha!" Madge cut loose with a pleased belly laugh."Isn't she something? I've always said, if DixieAnne came from a litter of puppies she'd be the funny spotted one."

"Uh, yeah, could you maybe back her off a step or two?" I asked. "Why don't you crawl up there and show me what she can do."

Madge led DixieAnne out into the arena and I watched her mount up. The mare stood with all four feet planted while Madge dragged herself up, but the tongue never let up. She rode off quiet and willing.

The Chief stayed with me in the center of the ring. DixieAnne had the weirdest hitch in her getalong I had ever seen. She wasn't limping, she was kind of rolling along, loose jointed and relaxed, yet all four legs were completely out of sync. She weaved and wobbled between the reins, every bit the stagger of an old drunk with one too many under his belt. Madge gathered up her reins and got ready to trot.

"Wait til' you see this," the Chief said with a grin.

DixieAnne wan't trotting, she had sped up her shambling walk, head bobbing first, her tongue began running over her muzzle even faster and foam began flying before she broke into a true, lateral pace. The pace had none of the flow of a Foxtrotter, the strides in the back were shorter than the front and her front legs moved out slightly out of sync with each other.

"What is she doing?" I was in absolute awe.

"We sure as hell don't know," Madge bellowed, "but let me tell you, it hurts!"

"We bought her as a broodmare," the Chief told me, "so her way of going shouldn't have been a problem, but then Madge took a shine to her and decided she wants to show her."

I had nothing. My mind refused to acknowledge what my eyes were seeing and my ears were hearing.

Madge brought DixieAnne up to us and yelled "Whoa!"

DixieAnne stopped a foot from my face and went in for the head butt. I was on to her now and jumped back before she got me. The Chief and Madge laughed with delight.

"Get on her and give her a whirl," the Chief said.

"You've got to feel it to believe it!" Madge shouted.

I was relieved when, other than a few friendly swipes of the tongue DixieAnne stood quiet while I adjusted my stirrups. There were manners in there somewhere.

We rode off at a walk and I couldn't believe what I was feeling. Everything moved out of sync, from the head bob, through her shoulders and hips to her legs.

When I asked for a trot the pace was bone rattling and my back began to seize in protest. After a few laps around the arena I sucked it up and cued for a lope.

I almost fell off.


I was riding an old hay truck, stuck in second gear, down a steep hill.

"Good God Almighty," I said. The Chief and Madge were laughing so hard they had to hold each other up.

We tried the other lead and I got more of the same. At least she was consistent.

I finally asked her to stop, well, maybe begged her to stop, and she parked it very nicely.

"What exactly do you want me to do with this horse?"

The Chief was suddenly all business. "Why, train her of course. Teach her to walk, trot and lope like she's supposed to."

"I'm going to need to have regular lessons too," Madge shouted. "I'm planning on cleaning up at the IBHA shows!"

My life flashed before my eyes.

29 comments:

SillyPony said...

"We bought her as a broodmare so her way of going shouldn't have been a problem..."

Of course! Mares will only pass on their traits you find appealing.

Glad to to have you back Mugs. I sure missed your regular posts.

Whywudyabreedit said...

Wow, just wow...

Congrats by the way on your newfound freedom from the fugly blog, looks like you chose a couple of good ones =)

Whywudyabreedit said...

They do sound hilarious, but how funny can it be when the impossible is being asked of you?

Thank goodness they took a shine to her rather than breeding her!

BritnieAnn said...

LOL, I cannot wait to hear more. Ended way too soon!!

mugwump said...

Whywudya----Oh, they bred her...and bred her...and bred her

Fetlock said...

Thanks for brightening up my very gray morning. Hilarious (as always)...can't wait to read more! Love the nice big header of you and your mare.

Anonymous said...

I knew a horse that was the opposite of DixieAnne on his gaits. I half-leased a Tennessee Walker for a while. He was a big, heavy-headed, lovable beast, more dog than horse.

He also didn't "walk". He didn't trot either. I was riding him in the arena one day, travelling in his not-walk/not-trot gait and the barn owner (who works with gaited horses) came out and said "what the hell is that horse doing?".

I answered "I haven't a clue, but it's incredibly smooth." Mind you, I'm a novice rider, but even I could tell it wasn't a walk, wasn't a trot, wasn't a TWH's flat walk, wasn't even a foxtrot...but wow, it really was smooth.

laundryca67 said...

more More MORE :)

shadowlake2005 said...

laundryca67 said it best, More, More MORE-- please!

MichelleL said...

So how did her foals move? Did they have her sparkling peronsality?

Just goes to show there is someone for everyone. Thank the Fates that DixieAnn found Madge.

Can't wait to hear how the show went. Did they get the ribbon for Biggest Train Wreck in Motion?

luvredponies said...

Yikes! I think I would rather have one that tries to take my head off - at least I would know where to start :) I can hardly wait for the next installation...

Kaitlyn said...

Hilarious. I can't wait to hear more!

GreyDrakkon said...

D:

wilsonc said...

I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Love the way you tell a story mugs. Looking forward to reading more of this one.

Mary said...

"DixieAnne didn't seem bothered by Madge's habit of hollering every word that came out of her mouth. She even seemed to enjoy Madge petting her with the same enthusiasm, whacking her hard on the neck, shoulder and butt while cutting loose with her air horn praise, "Good girl, DixieAnne, good girl!"....
Oh my god I laughed so hard when I read that I scared my dam dog. That's really funny. I can't wait to hear more. What I wouldn't give to see that horse in motion. Wow. Anyway, sounds like a great story a brewin'

(I like having you here a whole lot more than fugly, way too hostile over there, I am glad you made it through ok)

nagonmom said...

Cheering here!! Glad You're back. Great story too. I was thing EPM? Can a horse be that uncoordinated naturally?
Not surprised by the human uhh element.

Urban Zebu said...

Ok, now I'm dying of curiosity! Was this mare neurologic, or just unfortunate? Did her babies go the same way? Did you discover some fixable issue and she made it t the show ring? Inquiring minds want to know! =D

Heila said...

How did she move at liberty, not under saddle?

mugwump said...

heila, Urban Zebu,nagonmom-patience comes to those who wait...Bwah ha ha ha!

Heila said...

LOL, at least we appear to be asking intelligent questions then!

RHF said...

Almost sounds like they were pulling one over on the new kid.. can't wait to hear the rest. Mugs just loves keeping us on the edge of our seats!

redhorse said...

This is the funniest horse story I've ever read.

Erin said...

I want to follow this blog, but I want to be emailed with new entries...I just don't understand this 'blogger dashboard' crap! Can anyone help?

mugwump said...

Erin - if I can figure out how to make that happen I will....

Bif said...

Mugs,
Under design, you can go to Add a Gadget and add "Follow by Email".

Loved the story, add me to the list of uber curious and impatient readers!

I would imagine you could keep us entertained for years with the stories of some of your training projects!! Please do so... please?

mugwump said...

Thanks Bif! And I do like to talk horse....

gtyyup said...

Seems like the owners were testing you...or were they really that out of it?!? This will make some great reading@

Fyyahchild said...

LOVE. So happy you're back...

Witty Horse said...

The owner sounds like a happy sort. I suppose she cleaned up in the show pen when her smile told the judge "what an enjoyable ride" . Rather than the truthful "I'm absorbing the motion with my seat and might not last" grimace/smile.

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