Sunday, May 25, 2008

Captain two

Our last new baby was born yesterday. A beautiful, straight legged sorrel filly. We only had three this year. Boss is only breeding two mares this year. Our hay guy called and said the last time he had fuel delivered it was 5.00 a gallon. The market for horse sales is slightly up around here. I wonder if it will crash again when first cutting prices come out?
It seems that the higher priced horses are selling just fine. It's the lower end ones that are stalling out. I guess that means to buy and breed top quality, or stay out of the business.
So getting back to the lower end of the horse biz....

Captain two

I stood and watched as Captain circled me, doing his happy dinner dance. I could tell he felt we had gotten a lot done that day. He had almost broken through my barrier of resistance. He was sure I was ready to join up and board his Horse + Woman + Ship. With his help he knew I could find the way of the horse. One look in my eye and Captain was positive I was going to find true unity, understand him to the depths his very soul, and leave him the hell alone.
Something inside me snapped.
I turned around and took him back to his tie spot. I tied him up securely and left him. I listened to him scream and holler while I went to do my chores. I chewed on the situation while I put up my other horses and fed the stock.
When I came back to my special friend, I brought two water buckets, a full hay bag, and an extra halter. I tied up the hay bag and the water buckets ten feet down, and around the corner from his usual spot. Then I got Captain, put the second halter on top of the first, and tied him to his new feeding station.
Captain assessed his new situation, and promptly struck at water bucket #1. Water flew everywhere. He looked at me with flattened ears and pawed at bucket #2.
I knocked on the Big Kahuna's door, and told him what I was up to.
"Make sure I can see him from the window." He growled.
I'm not going to come out and check on him all night."
Then I went home. As I drove away Captain was knocking his hay bag around with his head.
The next morning my little buddy was wailing with everything he had.
His hay was scattered all around his feet. I don't think he got a single bite.
One of the halters was undone and laying on the ground. It gave me a moments pause when I realized it was the halter underneath, not the one on top. One of his lead ropes was chewed through.
I ignored it all, filled his bucket, and gave him fresh hay.
He very gratefully drank his fill of water, and then went on to quietly munch his hay.
Score one for me.
When he was done, I moved him over to his usual spot.
Captain was horrified. He sucked back, he jumped, he kicked.
I left and started getting out my string of horses to ride.
About noon the Big Kahuna, aka Mr. Communication, loped past and grunted, nodding towards Captain.
He was standing with his hip cocked, dozing in the sun. Silent. OMG!
I rode over to him, crawled over the fence, and took him to his feeding station. I let him tank up and gave him a little lunch.
When he was done I took him back to his tie spot. He sighed, and licked his chops. I scratched his butt and went back to work.
At dinner time he threw a monumental fit. I ignored him until all my chores were done and then put him back at his feed station. With two halters and three lead ropes, all slathered with Chew Stop.
When I left him, he was eating his hay, ears flat back, and his tail wringing, but he was eating.
The next morning he nickered a greeting. He still had half a bucket of water. There was no hay thrown on the ground. He ate his breakfast, ears and tail relaxed. He watched peacefully as I worked my line of babies.
When I took him to his tie spot he immediately cocked his hip, dropped his head and got ready to nap.
So I saddled him.
He tolerated the saddle pad after about ten tries. I was polite the first five tries. Then I just threw it on him.
When I could drag the pad all over him with only mild freak outs, I picked up my colt saddle.
One look and he threw himself on the ground.
I stood and waited.
Then I put my saddle down, sat on it, and waited.
Captain got up.
I put the pad back on him, and picked up my saddle. Captain went down.
After the third throw down he quit. I got the saddle on and cinched without more quivering than any other normal horse.
I left him saddled for the rest of the day.
He bucked in place for awhile. Pawed his excavation pit a bit bigger.
He didn't suck back, or throw himself. No wailing.
He spent most of the afternoon alternately kicking each stirrup and turning to watch them swing.
That night when I put my other horses up and fed, Captain watched. He pawed a little, but stayed quiet.
He was afraid when I unsaddled him, but handled it.
When I took him to his hay bags he dove in. No muss, no fuss. I scratched his butt and left.
The next morning he nickered again. Politely led back and forth to his tie spots.
He only threw himself once when I saddled him.
He was quiet all day.
That night I led him to his stall. He was quiet on the lead rope. He whinnied to his barn buddies as we came in, but didn't pull on me once.
Score two for me.
The next morning he was still in his stall. He nickered to me. Faced up and let me put his halter on. Led out the perfect gentleman.
Got saddled like a grown up, with a minimum of flinching.
Every day for a week he stood saddled, quiet and polite.
It was time to start riding.
With most horses I would be doing lots of ground work at this point. Remember, Captain had spent 5 months with the Morgan trainer.
I knew he had learned something, because he would do that weird Morgan stretch every time he was worried. (It took forever to get rid of that one.)
I felt like I had to use the momentum I had going.
And I was tired of getting razzed by the guys at the barn.
We're cowboys. I had been dinking with Captain for almost 60 days and still wasn't on him. That is not the cowboy way.
So I took him into the indoor, longed the stink off him, and started my "get on the first time" ritual.
I pulled on the stirrups. I swung them back and forth. I pulled the saddle back and forth. I patted his butt. I pulled on the back cinch. I made sure he had a little give to the right and left with the side pull.
I put a little weight in the stirrup. All systems were go. Don't get me wrong, Captain had done his fair share of jumping and spooking. But none of it was out of the realm of manageable.
I took a light hold of my inside rein and bounced up and down in the stirrup. I stood up.
Captain took off.
His head flopped to the side, he took his shoulder and bolted across the arena. We hit the arena wall.
Captain stopped. I stepped off.
We took a breath, I led him to the middle of the arena and tried again.
As soon as I stood up he bolted again. With his head flopped over he was running blind. I could have sworn I was on one of Parelli's finest.We hit the wall again.
I stepped off, and looked at Captain.
He looked at me. Hmmm.
The Big Kahuna leaned in through the arena window.
"You OK? There's an awful lot of banging going on in here."
"He's taking his shoulder and bolting when I stand up in the stirrup." I said.
"Well step off and whack him."
"He gets going too fast. I can't get off."
"Turn him."
He has his head flopped to my knee."
"You're pulling to hard, give him his head."
The Big Kahuna is big on giving them their head. No matter what they're doing.
"I am NOT pulling." I was getting exasperated.
"Show me."
Like I wanted to do that. Sigh.
So I led him to the middle of the arena and stood up in the stirrup.
You know the drill. BANG!
"Well at least he hits first." Says the Big K.
"That's not helping." I replied.
"Tie him up."
"I am not getting on him tied. He'll beat me to death on the walls."
"Don't get on him. What kind of a fool are you? Sheesh. He's afraid of you standing over his head. Just step up and down until he can deal."
"OK." I felt a little dubious, but The Big K is usually right in these matters. Plus I had to do what he said. Always.
"And hurry up, you're behind on your rides."
At least I knew he cared.
After 20 or so tries at stepping up and down on both sides, Captain decided I wasn't going to kill him.
I took him back to the middle of the arena and completely gave him his head.
I stood up in the stirrup.
He shifted around, and slung his head, but he didn't run.
I didn't puke all over my saddle. It was all good.
I got on.
He started to chug. Feet going, but not really moving anywhere.
I lightly picked up his rein and he skittered in a circle.
He stopped.
I tried to remember how to breathe.
He sighed and I felt his back relax.
I scratched his neck, and made myself relax too.
I didn't barf.
He didn't bolt.
Score Three.
This is getting longer than I planned, so I guess I have to go to part three. See you next post.


HorseRedux said...

Wow, just wow ....

*bowing in your direction*

Anonymous said...

you're quickly becoming one of my favourite blogs. anxiously awaiting "Captain Three"... :D

Justaplainsam said...

great read, and my god you have more guts than I do!!

verylargecolt said...

The fact that he hit the wall first was actually very courteous of him! I had one that ran me into the wall deliberately and tried to crush my leg. Man, did I get FAST about whipping my leg up in the air!

This is a fascinating story. I only wish you had it on video!

barrelracingmom said...

Love it! Do you think it's certain bloodlines that tend to be more crazy than most? I have a few in mind that I think are!!

mugwump said...

Yes I do..but not this one. He was just a freak.
fugs-thank God I don't have it on video...I'm sure I'm much cooler in my mind than in reality!

loneplainsman said...

Very cool... sounds like you did everything right!

Can't wait for "Captain III"

Heidi the Hick said...

What a great story!

All horses test out patience... this is how we learn, right? But man! This guy was one hell of a teacher!

I'm so proud of you for not barfing. I know the feeling.

PlaysWithPonies said...

What a weird, weird little horse. This is fascinating.

Whywudyabreedit said...

Fantastic story! I'm hooked, you've kept me up past my bedtime =)

Keep it coming!

manymisadventures said...

What an interesting story! I haven't been able to stop myself from cracking up as I've read it. Especially the wailing.

I've been reading your blog for a little while now and I think it's wonderful! I can't wait to hear more stories and the continuation of Captain's saga.

fssunnysd said...

Can't wait for number 3 -- what a lesson in determination from both of you! I'm crossing my fingers for a happy ending.

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