Thursday, April 19, 2012

Horsin'

Hormones.

My mare made darn sure I remembered she's loaded with them yesterday.

She's in the middle of her first serious heat of the year.

She can barely walk.

Her obnoxiousness is amazing.

It should be a reminder to me why I prefer geldings.

EXCEPT

My lovely little gelding, Odin, has decided he is Odoriferous Cloud, the wild mustang Romeo of the West.

He is reminding me, on no uncertain terms, why it is a really bad idea to wait to geld a bilateral
cryptorchid until he is three, especially when he lives on pasture with a group of mares.

Even though my vet told me, once he finally found them during surgery, his testicles were underdeveloped and maybe the size of a grape, Odoriferous  has absolutely no sense of insecurity. He is sure every mare on the planet adores him. Madonna sure does.

My sweet little Baboo has been spending an awful lot of time on the tie rail lately. He has decided to spend his spring whinnying, striking and kicking at every gelding he thinks he can reach and mounting any willing mare that passes by.

So he stands tied, contemplating his horniness and plotting his little stud wannabe revenge.

I get to spend my time teaching Odin to behave like I would any hormonally charged colt, a job I swore I would never do again once I retired.

I don't like handling studs. They are pretty to watch if someone else is dealing with them, but, as far as I'm concerned, they are just too much work. I admit, there are good ones and bad ones, but I don't even like messing with the good ones.

Stallions are kept on the outskirts of the herd for a reason. It's the way they look at life that has them living on the borders. Their brain works like this, "Sex...eat...sex....eat....sex....FIGHT...sex...eat...sex...eat...PRETEND FIGHT...sex...eat...water...sex....PREDATOR....sex...eat...."

Mares on the other hand think, "Eat...eat...groom my girlfriend...eat...where's the baby?...eat...drink...kick the underlings...eat...sex? there, that's over with...eat...where's the baby?...eat...talk with the girls...eat...sheez, I'm weaning earlier next year...eat..."

So the girls bring in the boys as needed and then kick them back out when they need to think straight again.

It's controlling that non-stop stream of hope stallions carry with them, "Maybe now? How about now? Now?" that I don't want to deal with.

Now, of course, Karma's laughing hard at me and giving me a gelded Lothario to deal with.

So I'm back at it with colt training 101. Bleah.

Not too long ago I was talking with a friend about a trail ride she had been on.

"I made the stupid mistake of cutting in front of her stud with the mare I was riding," she said.

From what I recall, much mayhem ensued.

My reaction?

"Whoa there! Who was holding the reins on that stud? You or her?"

There's a simple rule of horsemanship that applies at all times with anyone riding a stallion. If you're on him, you're responsible. Period. It's not the responsibility of anyone around you to monitor your horse. If he's going to mount a horse with a rider while you're on him then you should not be out in public. Period.

So how am I approaching this with Odin? He started this spring by thinking he could jump on any mare who seemed willing. So he's now in the Mugwump  Boot Camp for Stud Wannabe's, big time.

Rule #1. He had better act like a 30-year-old due string horse after a 30-mile ride when I'm standing next to him. No matter who is tied near-by or might walk past.

How do I get this?

I tie him. Right next to a mare in heat. He can't get her, he can't kick her or be kicked, but he can yearn. He can flirt. He can sing her Barry white tunes, I don't care, as long as I'm not anywhere around.

When I am around he will get in as much trouble as it takes to get his attention on me, not the mare. His attention will be respectful too, maybe not happy, but it will stay on me.

I watch for signs of losing his focus. He can't flick an ear at his intended. He can't look at her. He can't take a step in her direction, much less sniff noses, nicker, paw, kick or strike.

With Odin it doesn't take much more than my disciplinary "Hey!" to get him back to me, but that's because he knows I have no problem whipping his butt if that's what it takes. When we started out this spring I had to thrash him pretty good once or twice over inappropriate stud behavior.

I don't beat him to death, but he got more than untying him and moving his feet. He got slapped pretty hard with a crop until he was jumping around at the end of the rope. My discipline was about knowing where I was at all times and respecting my space. When he moved away and focused I stopped. I didn't stay angry, didn't pick at him, I just got in, thumped on him and went back to what I was doing.

I am deadly earnest when it comes to horses forgetting how to behave when I'm on the ground with them. They absolutely may not crowd me. They have to accept me in their space at all times, allow me to handle whatever body part I need to handle and treat me as gentle as they would a kitten on the fence. There are lots of reasons, but it comes down to one pretty simple one.

Horses weigh 1000 pounds give or take and I don't.

Once I got the behavior I expected on the ground I went to ponying him.

Rule#2. He had better keep his mind on the job at hand and only the job, the entire time we are working.

The cool thing about ponying is it puts him in the same position a stallion likes to be when he's driving a mare. Right at flank nipping, romance creating level. So it's really tempting for a colt to get frisky.

Odin thought it was going to be great fun too. Madonna knows me too well, she stayed on task and we got busy.

We stayed in the arena, because I didn't want the distraction of the trail to add to the mix, even though I pony him often. Good thing too, because Odoriferous Cloud had decided it was time to really challenge the idea I had entertained since he was born, that I was his boss.

We took off at a strong trot and he moved along for maybe the first ten strides or so before he put his head over Madonna's butt and nickered. I cut her into him and yanked his head around, putting him back in position and off we went. Then we did it again every time he tried it again.

This worked for a while, but Odin decided we had run from him long enough and dove in, nipping at Madonna and about getting my leg instead. I booted him in the teeth, he squealed and pinned his ears, coming up off the ground with his head over the front of the saddle.

He made it way too easy, I popped him a good one with my fist right on the cute little diamond on his fuzzy, wuzzy head. Oops! Wasn't I worried I might make him head shy? Nope.

I circled him around a little and then went down the fence line, asking Madonna for some more speed.

She picked it up a notch and Odin tried to suck back, but Madonna dug in and we just dragged him along until he got with the program.

After that I got a bit more organized and kept the popper of my mecate ready.Every time he even thought about sticking his nose where it didn't belong, or made any noise besides the huff and puff of a tired youngster, I popped him a good one. I didn't aim, just swung. When he was good I let him be and gave him plenty of slack.

He got popped quite a few times before he quit.

I'm  guessing he was thinking, "Sex, OW!, sex, OW!, sex, OW!, sex..." for quite a while before he finally got to, "Sex, OW!, sex, wait a minute, this is gonna hurt, oh well, sex, OW!, sex, why does she keep doing that?"

Eventually he sorted things out and ponied along like the nice, quiet gelding I knew was in there somewhere. When he was acting like that 30-year-old dude horse I'm so fond of I quit for the day.

He was, and is, being very wary around me at the moment. Jumping when I go to saddle him, watching me like a newly caught mustang, but I'm ignoring him. He'll settle back in once he completely digests the situation and knows I'm only coming after him when he starts talking to the girls when he's on duty.

Yesterday, we did it again, while Madonna was in crazy girl, full blown heat. She still worked like she should, but with her tail over her back and a trickle of pee leaving a trail behind us.

Odin forgot the last lesson completely, for about thirty seconds, or as long as it took for me to crack him one good one with the end of my mecate. After that he behaved. He wasn't happy, he was pretty snorty, but he behaved.

The ropers were practicing so we weaved in and out of them while they warmed up and stood and watched when they roped. Odin stood, led, and minded his P's and Q's, with just a few "Hey!" reminders from me.

This will make dealing with him under saddle much easier. My point has been made. If he flicks an ear or starts humming Barry White while we're riding I'll just kick him forward with a pop of my reins on his butt and we'll go work until he remembers who he really is, a good, quiet gelding.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

SNORK! love the mare vs stallion thought process.... I think men and women might not be too far removed!

Anonymous said...

I love your half finished thought train. Was this a big ol oops?

mugwump said...

Yes indeedy.

Justaplainsam said...

Yes the gelding late can have its issues even when done for the best reasons! There is nothing better than a good stud for riding. But maybe I just like having to deal with unpredictable horses!

mugwump said...

True. We all know I only like the reliable, steady, super-broke predictable ones.

Reddunappy said...

Ha ha, Love it.

My mare gets the same when she is in season and being a dink!!

Becky said...

I laughed out loud at the mares vs stallions train of thought.

Can I just say that it seems monumentally unfair that you have to deal with owning a "stallion" without the benefit of the thick jowls and overly-shiny coat?

pony said...

I love you, Mugs! I think a certain level of get after for bad behavior is certainly appropriate, and kind of funny!

My mare is in heat right now too, and it's so obnoxious! We had to have an "it's spring, let's talk" convo on Tuesday, and it's been all business since but THPPPB. I miss my geldings.

MichelleL said...

I can remember going to a Play Day once where a couple of women, who had no business owning a horse let alone a squalling, calling, obnoxious Welsh pony stallion showed up to "visit". All they had to say for themselves regarding his total lack of manners and potentially dangerous ways was, "Oh, he's just excited!"

I packed up and left.

All I can say to your post Mugs is Amen!!

Jamethiel Crabb said...

Okay, I haven't read all of your posts, but this is the first one that I laughed so hard at the ancient cat sitting on my lap complained about it.
BOYS. So many boys.

maryka said...

Mugwump I feel your pain,my elderly highland was an unbroken not long cut 3yr old.He behaved like a stallion,including covering another livery's mare twice a day every day.Mortified doesn't cover it,made worse by the fact that he must have been a big boy as the loose skin left behind made him look entire.He was hell on wheels to handle,was willing to use his front feet & teeth on you followed by his back feet.Within a fortnight he had attacked friend on her entering his stable,had attacked the owner of the mare when she was trying to remove her mare from the field ( fortunately mare owner was a tough cookie & went in armed with a buggy whip,only had to use it the once )& ended up knocking me over trampling on me & dragging me the length of the yard.Life was a constant battle,you will do that,you won't do that all the time.He never has argued with me over his food ( he is still inclined to be aggressive around food )as the one time he did I blew snatched his feed off him & emptied it over the muck heap with him watching.A night without his nice bucket feed put that idea to rest straight away.
He's still an obnoxious little stinker when he's on one but is more reluctant to have a go than he was as I won't back down & he knows it.Picture it 13.3hh Highland built like the traditional brick s**t house glaring at angry & just as stubborn old woman glaring right back at him

Anonymous said...

"contemplating his horniness and plotting his little stud wannabe revenge"
Thank you for a good laugh I can just picture the looks your getting from the tie rail as he plots his revenge.

Cycle said...

My gelding fell in screaming, whirling, forgetting how to lead, pawing while tied love with a mare a few years ago. We worked it out about how you did with OC. Thankfully, he's never fallen that hard for a mare since.

redhorse said...

We're shopping for a new bull this week (not horses, I know, I should get on a bovine blog), Farmerman was in a pen with 20+ bull prospects discussing various points with the breeder, I stood off to one side until one of the bulls let me scratch him on the head. "I want this one," I yelled. All he said was "yeah, whatever." I was kinda serious, you think stallions are bad? Just let a mature bull give you the stink eye, it makes grown men run away squealing like little girls, except for the few who want to ride him.

Maryka, I'm so jealous, I would love a Highland pony, or a Fell. I'm too old to get on the tall ones anymore. A short, sturdy pony would be excellent, and the Fells look like miniature Fresians, it would fulfill the princess fantasy thing too.

ad0757fe-de1b-11e0-8c6c-000f20980440 said...

I just love how you can make this all so understandable, yet funny! This is exactly how we treat all of our horses. They get the whole winter off so there is sometimes some reminding to be done in the spring, even for the older guys who should know better. Especially the 12 year old who was an orphan, and has a few quirks of his own.
I completely agree that a couple seconds of thomping on them to remind them where their place is, is better than having to constantly correct them in a "nice" way.

mrscravitz said...

Mugwump, I was giggling thru most of your story, and yet, applauded you at the same time. You are making Odin a very good citizen and so much like kids, he may not like it now, but will appreciate it later. Loved it! Wished there was a video...I really tried to picture the disaplining...I AM amadextrous, but not as talented as you...."I" Would of fallen out of the saddle, and Odin would of had his way with that mare! LOL

Skittle said...

Redhorse - I hear you on the bulls, nothing scares me more then an angry/horny bull.

Fortunately my mares are pretty even tempered, even when in heat.

mugwump said...

Mrs. Cravitz - Not talent...luck

nagonmom said...

Once again, thanks for the laugh therapy. I will NEVER get another mare. NEVER. Always knew not to get a stallion. Geldings for me forever!! Sigh. Except for the one mare I already own.
The equine mind chatter is great too.
And Odin's train of thought was priceless. I just wonder what makes the light bulb go on? Sex? Owie? WTF? Work? Work OK? Work? Sex? Owie? Work? Work!

fortheloveofsanity said...

Now I think that is funny because my WB stallion is 4 now, and isn’t really all that interested in girls. He talks a bit under his breath when we walk past but he knows the rules. He lives with my geldings and is honestly at the bottom of the heard. He has bred two seasons now and as soon as I put him back with the boys he becomes a gelding no questions. It was odd because I read tons of this stuff on owning a stud before I even got him, and was all ready to train the crap out of him, but he just never tried anything. I would walk him past a mare and I would be all “don’t you talk to her” and he would look at me funny like “what the hell mom don’t get mad at me I wasn’t planning on talking to her gaaaawd”. Now on the other hand I have a WB mare that is in love with my stud, and anytime she is around him or sees him she runs the fence and calls to him. His response is generally to ignore her. It’s like he sees breeding as a job more than anything. In his mind you go in you breed the crazy screaming peeing thing, then you go back to eating with the boys. But man that mare is almost worse to handle then a rank stud when she is in heat. She pushes into me she steps over me, she tries to run off and drag me along. I got her as a 15 year old, so there was a lot of spoiled horse damage done before I got her, but still! I now finally have her so she just jigs and isn’t a total butt head about things, but I find this so funny because I have a studly mare and a mare like stud. ;)… Now on the other hand the coming 2 year old QH colt is driving me crazy trying to talk to girls. Needless to say he is getting chopped soon.

Becky said...

I'm jealous of Maryka, too. Highlands are awesome! I wish we had more of them in the states :(

Jill said...

I'm riding a very nicely mannered stallion right now, but I'm fairly certain he had to go through stud school at some point in his life to make him a good guy!

He mainly chunters away at girls, like 'huhhuh huh huhhuh huh' but it just takes a 'hey!' to get him back if he loses focus on me. If he manages to touch noses with one in the barn, there's an occasional slap across the nose, but on trails and in the arena with a mare leaving a pee-trail, he knows he's not having sexytime with a saddle on, so we've been good so far.

I was going to say 'I can't believe...' but had to stop myself. Unfortunately I CAN believe that people might think you mean for popping a raging hormonal full size horse in the face.

Surely with the way a horse thinks, they will only become headshy if you over-abuse or use force inappropriately, i.e. when there is no behaviour that they will relate a punishment to?

Good Hands said...

I love this post. There is no room for bad manners in 1000 lbs of anything, much less a hormone driven something.

I like Jill's comment. I have known a ton of super well mannered stallions but yep, they had to be taught and then maintained in order to keep them that way.

Good job, you guys.

Anonymous said...

My beauty of a fellow is an 8 year old golden dun desi (pakistani breed) stallion that is pretty good about leaving the mares alone (he has never been bred) but did do the scariest rear I've ever sat when a 2 yr old stud colt from the mare/foal herd cantered towards us at the start of a ride one time. Stallions are often beautiful to watch and fun to ride but there is definately a little bit more of a "I have to REALLY be alert to everything" when riding him or the other stallions as opposed to the geldings or mares.
I LOVED your story - made my day to be able to laugh and giggle so much at such great storytelling.

Anonymous said...

"He can sing her Barry white tunes." - classic and real funny :)

mysanity said...

When my mare started having a pissy attitude when riding with others, I took to riding with a small tree branch with a few leaves left on the end. And I would actually pop her on the poll whenever she did anything snarky. She could do a wicked witch face that scared horse and rider.

She was never head shy and knew exactly why she was being corrected. It was a phase, group rides were too slow for her.

Half Dozen Farm said...

I have a rescue pony who was in no shape to be gelded when I got him. So he was gelded at 4. He was really nippy before gelding, and I was actually amazed at how much better his biting was IMMEDIATELY after the procedure. I could almost trust him enough to turn my back to him (Almost!).
Now, he's better about nipping, but by no means is he safe to be around my little girls, which is who he is for.
This pony is pretty thick. I mean not much phases him at all. Sometimes he bites, then snatches his head away immediately because he knows he's going to get smacked. I have tried the "You have 3 seconds to make him think he's gonna die" thing. I've tried "roughing up" his nose if he puts it in my space, I've tried feeding treats (yes, I know) so he would learn to use his lips instead of his teeth, but I still can't get through to him that teeth = a big no, no!
Any other suggestions to try?

Half Dozen Farm said...

I have a rescue pony who was in no shape to be gelded when I got him. So he was gelded at 4. He was really nippy before gelding, and I was actually amazed at how much better his biting was IMMEDIATELY after the procedure. I could almost trust him enough to turn my back to him (Almost!).
Now, he's better about nipping, but by no means is he safe to be around my little girls, which is who he is for.
This pony is pretty thick. I mean not much phases him at all. Sometimes he bites, then snatches his head away immediately because he knows he's going to get smacked. I have tried the "You have 3 seconds to make him think he's gonna die" thing. I've tried "roughing up" his nose if he puts it in my space, I've tried feeding treats (yes, I know) so he would learn to use his lips instead of his teeth, but I still can't get through to him that teeth = a big no, no!
Any other suggestions to try?

HorsesAndTurbos said...

The first time I rode my mare on the trails when she was in season she had to stop & piss at every horse. Not good. Second time, I brought my crop...and after two good wallops, she is now totally focused on her job. That's a Mugwump solution for you!

I have two ex-stud minis - one gelded at 10, one gelded at 22. Neither were studdy before, and now no longer have to worry about my mare. Weird how that works with some horses - they could be going nuts over my full-sized mare, but just ignore her.

Jackie

Jill said...

Half Dozen Farm - unfortunately I don't have a solution but there are a couple I know that do the snakey face and/or bite and then immediately suck back into their stalls. And I haven't yet found a solution!

Should you just go after them anyway?! Water spray? if that bothers him? You don't have to be in the stall to do it, at least, so if he's run away, you can still squirt him.

IndyApp said...

Half Dozen Farm, This only works while being led. I had a 2 yr old that turned nipping into a game. How fast can I nip and get my nose out of range before she pops me? This is how I solved it. I found a way for him to punish himself before he nipped me. While leading him I would have one of those flimsy plastic forks in my hand along with the lead and when he turned his head into me, the fork would stab him in the muzzle. It must be one of the flimsy forks because if he turn his head in too quickly or with too much force you want the tines of the fork to break off. You don't want to injure him, but you do want it to hurt. My brat quickly figured out he was hurting himself and I had nothing to do with it.

Half Dozen Farm said...

IndyApp, that's a good idea! Will try that one - and that got me to thinking on other ways I can cause him to "punish himself".
Thx!

Half Dozen Farm said...

IndyApp, that's a good idea! Will try that one - and that got me to thinking on other ways I can cause him to "punish himself".
Thx!

Vivian said...

I have a mini stallion 5 yr old who is VERY aggressive with ALL other horses. I can handle him while on line but he can't be turned out with even my much bigger pony gelding. He bites, chases and kicks the crap out of him. He is also this way with the mini mares. What can I do other than gelding which I am not sure would change this behavior. Or do I keep him forever by himself??

mugwump said...

Vivian - geld, geld, geld

mugwump said...

Indy/App - I punish them for coming close enough to nip, not nipping. There is no getting out of range. Each interaction between me and this horse would be set up so he would be punished for coming into my space, period.
I want him to know he can't nip ME. Self punishment isn't going to explain things well enough.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Re: Nipping

When I watch my two ex-studs play, they nip back and forth at each other. Rocket snakes & nips, Cooper snakes & nips back.

In my opinion, when a horse nips at you, slapping back is just starting a horse game you don't want to play.

When my big gelding gets a little mouthy I get my "mare energy" up, squeal, and back him or chase him out of my space, just like my mare does when she's pissed off at him. That really works well, and I love their big eyes when I squeal like an angry mare.

And geld, geld, geld those mini-stallions...most are *not* breeding quality, why drive them crazy with urges they cannot or should not satisfy?

Jackie

Stormy said...

Bulls and stud horses...oh they can be fun...

I remember my mom taking me to the kill pen (she was a horse trader and trolled the kill pen for horses she could save-40 years before it was cool.) anyway, on a trip there she found the cutest little Shetland stud that she had to take home...quickly found out how he ended up there. He was so treacherous and hormone driven he could and would knock a full grown mare off her feet so he could breed her. To this day, almost 50 years later he ranks as the worst stud I have ever seen. He was gelded ASAP and on that front immediately became a solid citizen.

On the bull front I once milked cows for some folks who sorta ended up in the dairy business by accident. I think they were cow harders becuase they collected up a herd of 100 mostly dairy/beef cross heifers and then decided they could not part with them, didn't want to sell them for beef so they would milk them. I came to work for them a generation or two down the line so their milk herd was composed of cows that were usually mostly dairy bred but with a touch of beef. The cows, they were generally quite placid but the TEN pet bulls were a different story. Wandering around the rabbit warren of dairy sheds they had built at 3 in the morning was an exercise in survival trying to be on the look-out for some monstrous bull who would appear. (of course each and every one had been a bottle raised and loved pet) My last day working for them was the day that two bulls decided to double team me and ran me up on a combine parked in the cow yard. When they could not get me they decided it was time for a rumble and all ten bulls got in to a two hour epic fight while I cowered on the combine...That simply took all the fun out of milking cows.

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