Monday, June 25, 2012

Mouthy Monday


Alexis, I gotta tell you, you're a woman after my own heart -- Mugs

Goofy Barrel Horses~
from Alexis


I've been able to ride for the last few weeks. Older kids had played outside while my husband took care of our littlest one. The practice pen was pretty soggy, so I've been long trotting the fence line of our hay meadow. Just building up his air, trying to get him legged up again. He's an easy keeper in more than one aspect. Carry a bucket of feed by him, he'll gain ten pounds. Ride him consistently, he'll get fit and stay that way for months at a time.  Consistent is not always a term used to describe a barrel horse, but it fits him to a T. He had  been turned out for over a year, before I got back on him a month ago. Turns out, sometimes geldings get maternity leave, too!!


He's spastic. Cribs. Kicks the fence or stall wall when he eats, but only if there is another horse too close. Plays with everything, ruins buckets on a regular basis if he can get to them. He has a large "bubble", as I describe it, he likes his own personal space and hates for other horses to crowd him. Whether in the pens or in a warm up arena, he wants his bubble unobstructed. Sitting on him can be problematic for those who don't pay attention...he'll bite, he'll kick. He squeals, curls his lip at other horses that get in his bubble. Most folks wouldn't put up with that much nonsense from a horse, but I do.


 I know I can leg him up, haul him to a jackpot and make a solid run. He'll make the same run every time as long as I do my job. Sit up, hustle. Give him a good pocket, don't pick at his face and let him work. He loves it. I stay off of him until 2 or 3 runners before us, my nerves give me away. Either he picks up on my nerves, or he knows my name when it's called!


A few circles to the left, one or two to the right. This is the only horse I've ever owned that can be warmed up in less than 10 minutes. Anything past the 10 minute mark and he starts to worry. A long warm up scatters his mind, the shorter the warm up, the sharper he'll be when we run. He's quiet as I pick his feet out, put on his boots. No nonsense now, it's go time and he knows it. I tighten my cinches and he begins to get antsy. We stay close to the alley, but don't face it or turn directly toward it. My hands get damp as I listen to the other horses come in and out of the alley, go through the gate. It's our turn. I walk him on foot to the alley to keep him quiet. They call my name and I swing up on his back, screwing down tight. He knows what's up. His heart is beating so hard I can feel it through the seat of my saddle. He tucks his nose when I ask him to collect, but scatters side ways as we go....he wants to leave the world behind and run. 
He straightens out as I bump his side with my foot and aim him up the alley. Those around me probably think I'm nutty as can be, an unbroken stream of words come from my mouth, talking to him the whole time. "Not yet...not yet. Easy babe, easy, easy, not yet, not yet, shhhhhh..." He's popping up and down, not from pain or from being sour, just from the anticipation. 
Three more strides with all four feet on the ground and we're through the gate. Reins as far forward as they go, smooch, kick, hustle hustle hustle. First barrel, tell him "Eeeaaaassssyyyyyy" at our rate spot, sit as deep as I can, push my hand to his ears, leave his mouth alone, he's got this! He digs deep and flings himself forward, reaching for the second barrel, running hard, stretching out all he can, it's a big pen. Rates good, slips a little going into his turn but takes an extra stride and saves us both.
 I can hear my little boy yelling, "Go momma go momma!" 
We turn the third barrel in text book style, a perfect pocket, no wasted motion at all. He hurtles away from the last barrel, running for the thrill of it, because he wants to, not because he's been made to. I keep my eyes up, watching for the timer line, hustling him all the way until we cross it. I ask him to slow down as we cross the line, sitting deep in my saddle, talking to him again. 
He slows to a trot, then a walk. Heaves a huge sigh, then walks back down the alley like we do this all the time. Back to the edge of the warm up pen, I step off. Loosen cinches, unwrap legs and take off boots. I can hear my kids coming. I throw my six year old son up on him, and he cools my horse off for me. Looks are thrown my way that clearly question my motives, but they're misdirected. Now that his job is done, he drops his head and walk off like an old plow horse, uninterested and uncaring. 


Some wouldn't put up with his nonsense, but I will. Till the day he dies.  

22 comments:

colleen said...

Wow!! Now that is some dynamite writing.

mrscravitz said...

Very good post! Had me running those barrels with you in the story!

PonyFan said...

I loved this story. Isn't it amazing how often we expect our horses to accept our quirks, our faults, our mistakes, and our bad habits, and are so intolerant of theirs? I'm always looking for the line between Dictator/Disciplinarian and Overprotective/Indulgent - this is a partnership I aspire to.

Anonymous said...

I have an appy mare that has cancer, she is kinda the same way. She knows when I get on her it is time to work and I will push her when we practice and she will kick out throw a buckbor 2, but when I ask her for a good soild run she gives it to me with all her heart. She knows the difference between practice and show time. When I'm finished I put kids on her to cool her down and she loves kids. People that have seen her buck thinks I'm stupid for putting kids on her. Some how she knows not to act up with them.

Half Dozen Farm said...

Ah, now I love him too! Great writing!

Scamp said...

I loved this story! Great writing, I felt as if I was right there.

A said...

Thanks Mugs, that means alot to me!

Thanks yall, I'm pretty passionate about this horse.
This guy had bounced around between a few different owners before I ended up with him, I promised him that he'd not have to fool with getting used to another owner ever again. I think sometimes horses deserve a chance at *forever*, if that makes sense? He's a goober, I'd run out of room in this comment box before I could fully describe the full spectrum of his personality.

He makes it fun for me. He may not ever take me to the NFR, I may never win another dime on him. But he tries his heart out for me, and that's worth alot in my book.

redhorse said...

I like personality in horses. And I love people who keep their promises to their horses.

PalominoPalOfMine said...

aw,I loved this! I am a barrel racer "in progress" (just got started teaching myself and my mare last fall). Haven't competed yet, but we will. Sometimes when I hear of people selling a horse for this or that vice, I don't really get it. My horses are my "kids" and I'll love 'em forever.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward said...

Dayum. Sounds like one hell of a good horse!

Slippin said...

My mare that I cut on was similar to him...not many people would put up with her because she Weaved, kicked the walls and crow hopped if you didn't warm her up long enough. She would test you every step of the way especially when we are working the cows...I had to be sharp, otherwise she would get away with murder, like slamming the front end in the ground when we stopped with the cow! OUCH!! I did win a little over $5000 on her though...

wyofaith said...

This was a GREAT post and a neat look into an often misunderstood sport.

wyofaith said...

This was a GREAT post and a neat look into an often misunderstood sport.

Albigears said...

That was FANTASTIC. Thank you!

Lori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori said...

I loved this post. Brought back memories of the sport and the quirky horses that sometimes excel at it. It was like riding 2 different horses when I B-raced. I was a kid so was not as sure of myself. Had a guy tell me he could show my horse and me a few tricks. Oh boy, bad mistake. He had spurs.... My horse dumped him, ran down the alley and had a perfect pattern came back and did a sliding stop in front of me. Would have won too if he had a rider.

MichelleL said...

Lucky boy to have a relationship like that with his person.

cdncowgirl said...

I loved this!
If you ask me, that "nonsense" is personality ;)
And for a horse that tries like that and is such a good guy after, I'd sure as heck put up with it too.

Heidi the Hick said...

That's exactly it - when he's do good at his job and gives you all he's got, that horse is a keeper! You'll be willing to put up with some quirks and irritations for it. That's a lot different than tolerating outright bad behavior.

Really loved this story!!! Now I wanna barrel race again!!

We were never good at it but enjoyed it. And yeah, after a run I'd put a kid on him too because he knew the difference. I put up with some goofiness for that. I love goofy geldings. Thanks for sharing!

Clancy said...

:) I'm with Redhorse.

Janice said...

Hmm, sounds hauntingly familiar.

Breathe said...

Beautifully written and it's the joy of horse's to know them this well.

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