Sunday, June 22, 2008

Horse Stories/Sonita


Before I drift off into Sonita land, I thought I'd fill you in on my latest "Well, how about that?" moment. That would be the eye opener you finally get when everybody around you has known it for years.
We went to our favorite local riding club to do a little reining on Saturday.
We had just come off a very successful show at a bigger venue the week before.
Were we cocky?
I hope not. I'd like to think we're above that.
We were pretty casual about our warm ups, but the horses were quiet and mostly well behaved.
My yellow mare had some 'tude, but she gets that way.
Wacko Regumate Girl was pretty nickery, but that's how she gets.
Studboy was kinda snorty, but he'd been bred that morning, so we were expecting that.
Little Zoey was distracted, but it's her first show season.
Do you see what's coming here?
They were poop heads. Every stinking one of them.
The stud was probably the best, but we never let our guard down with him. When you have a stallion it's your responsibility to make sure everyone else around him is safe. Always. We take that responsibility seriously.
What finally soaked into my fat head?
If I'm not serious, my horses won't be either.
We were having fun, laughing and goofing, visiting with friends.
Obviously, so were the ponies. The little pixies.
If yellow mare shakes her head, and fusses at the bit in practice, I had better fix it. If I make excuses or ignore it, she'll smack me down in the show pen.
If Regumate queen flips her head even an inch during a practice run down, I promise she'll about come over backwards during her stop in front of the judge.
If the distracted little filly is goofy in the warm up, how do you think she'll be showing alone in the arena?
What it comes down to is, showing easy should never mean showing sloppy.
I owe it to the horses to treat every run, every arena, in a professional manner. They owe me the same. Even if I plan to lope through a simple pattern, the horse needs to be properly prepared, and in return, should behave itself.
I can have fun and take an easy day, but my horses still have to mind. Their release can come from a relaxed performance, or not showing at all, but I can't ignore warning signals like the ones I was getting.
If my body language tells them they can fart around at this arena, what's going to happen when I'm nervous and distracted at my next world show?

So on to Sonita.
I sort of got Sonita on a trade. I was working for a barn that stood a dun stallion and competed in all around at IBHA shows.
To make a little cash I was picking up an inexpensive project horse here and there, putting some time on them and selling them.
I had bought a three year old Western Pleasure prospect. He had Impressive on his papers more than once, so I agreed to buy him if his HYPP tests came back N/N. I was assured he'd be fine, but he wanted him sold. If I wanted the test done and anything turned out wrong, he'd gladly reimburse me.
So up and coming horse mogul that I was, I bought him.
Of course his tests came back N/H.
The man I had bought him from took him back, and offered me the pick of a group of long yearlings he had just brought in.
"I bought a started three year old, and you want to trade me for a baby?"
I was starting to get a feel for this horse trading thing.
"None of these go back to Impressive." He said.
"None of them are broke." I replied.
"I'm being pretty nice about this." He hooked his thumbs in the top of his jeans. "You bought that horse you know. I don't have to trade nothing."
"I rode him, put 100 ponds on him, and paid for his shots, worming, and that damn test."
"Those colts are all I've got."
"Those shoes he's wearing weren't free you know."
"So keep him."
I sighed and walked over to look at the scruffy bunch of youngsters.
They were all papered, chestnut, and wild eyed. A little ribby, but the feet were reasonable, the legs were straight for the most part, and the heads were pretty enough.
"Where'd these come from?"
"A ranch south of Pueblo."
"Are they all bred the same?"
"Pretty much."
This goober had been a lot chattier when I'd been buying the N/H colt.
I sat on the rail and looked them over for a while.
"How about that big blazed filly over there?" I asked.
I liked the way she kept watching me. She seemed to be checking me out as much as I was her.
She had a beautiful shoulder, a short strong back and a good hip.
"She's a lively one."
"That's all right, I like them lively."
Never the sharpest tool in the shed, I didn't realize that was as close to a warning as I was going to get out of this guy.
"What's the scar on her forearm?" It was an ugly, half healed, four inch slice.
"I dunno, she came with it."
"Will you bring her when you come pick up the colt?"
"For a fee."
"I paid when you delivered the colt. Don't you think this one should be on you?"
"I ain't charging you for picking up the colt."
Ha! I had him!
"Just charging for delivering the filly."
The next day I got a call.
My new filly was hurt. It seemed she had taken offence at being split off from her herd mates. In an attempt to get back to them she had cleared a five strand barbwire fence. That one went fine, but when she went over the second one she tore up her forearm.
Yes. That would be the one with the scar.
"I feel real bad about this." The trader told me. "If you still want her, I'll doctor her up and bring her to you no charge."
"I'm still feeding your other colt."
"I said I wouldn't charge you." The goober sounded peeved.
"Let me come out and look at her again."
I drove out the next day. The pretty filly was in the round pen now. She had a huge chunk of meat out of her forearm. She anxiously trotted around the pen, whinnying to her herd mates.
Chickens were scattered around the pen, dodging in and out at the remnants of her breakfast.White streaks of dried salt down her flanks and neck told me she'd been at it a while.
"It doesn't seem to affect her movement." I commented.
"The vet said it was high enough on her leg not to ruin her."
"I guess it's OK. I'll still take her."
I walked closer to the pen to get a better look at my new horse. She stopped pacing and looked me over. Same friendly, unafraid look in her eye. She was a deep cherry red with a heavy sprinkling of roan hairs through her flanks.
A chicken pecked at the ground on the other side of the round pen. The filly flattened her ears and swung her head toward the oblivious chicken. She shot across the pen, head low, raccoon tail snapping, and smashed the chicken flat.
She snorted, shook her head, and trotted back to me. She extended her nose for a friendly sniff at my fingers. There was mu shu chicken all over her hooves.
"Woo Hoo! That's the third one in two days!" The trader slapped his belly."My wife is going to be so pissed! Those are her best laying hens."
"My God." I was horrified. I happen to like chickens.
"You bought yourself a good un'. " Goober was real friendly now that the deal was done. "I'll bring her by in a week or two."
Gotta go read Fugs. More on Sonita tomorrow...


  1. Mu shu chicken .... :) I could just picture her stomping that chicken. I had a colt that used to try, but never seriously. Boy....glad it's you horse trading and not me. I have a hard time doing the stupid back and forth dance at the car dealer.

  2. I was sitting here reading your entry while my husband was watching tv. I got to the part about the mu shu and snorted through my nose. My husband made me read it to him. He thought it was pretty funny too.

  3. Sounds like a fire cracker! That poor chicken...I'm excited to hear what she was like after you got her home :)

  4. Ha ha. Sounds like Papillon, if its not a horse or a human it needs to get the hell out of her way and out of her sight. She loves to chase dogs and coyotes. A couple of goats got loose recently and she pitched a fit! We're still not quite sure how she broke the pipe to her automatic waterer (above the shutoff valve, of course) but it sure scared the goats.

    On the other hand she takes care of her rider like no other horse on the farm. (I'm guessing sonita was like that too, am I right?) Maybe its some sort of wildly exaggerated protective instinct. God knows those chickens can be pretty dangerous. ;)

  5. LMFAO! The chicken.
    I have seen horses chase cats, dogs, children, ponies and the occasional toy but never chickens XD

    My mare Indigo HATES cats. She tries to bite or smusherate one any chance she can. I have no clue why. She loves dogs though.
    Just yesterday my man was holding her as I took her harness off after a long drive. We just brought these destructive house cats to the barn. My man is inexperienced with horses. All at once the cat come up, Indigo stomped a fly and THE CAT! Cat screamed bloody murder, Indigo jumped and stomped mr.kitty again which caused him to use his claws on her leg like a pin cushion, she lunged ahead nearly trampling my poor wide eyed "WOOOOAHHHH!!" screaming man a third time and knocked over a whole wall of shovels and brooms creating a loud crashing noise. The cat attempted an escape and Indigo booted it on it's escape.
    Everyone outside the barn pokes their head in the door and was like WTF IS GOING ON!? I guess it sounded like WW3. I couldn't help but stand there and laugh. The cat was just spooked and horse had a pin hole in her leg that bled for a few minutes and BF will probably never come back out to the barn again with me :(

  6. OMG! I have had the worst day today and you post something like that! I can't stop laughing. I can just picture the chicken squished flat and her happy look when she came back to you.

    I had a horse that hated goats and he killed 3~ well, I guess the cat wanted in on the action but Hickory was not gonna let that happen. I went out to catch him and he had a cut on his ear that was pretty bad. I could not figure out for the life of me what happened. Took him up and doctored him and went on my merry way only to have the cat walk by with a crooked tail. Yep, it was broke about an inch down from the tip. Took me a minute to really "see" it and have it register, the cat liked to rub on the horses feet and I guess Hickory grabbed him by the tail and launched him. I started laughing and went on. The next day I was at the barn and that darn cat wove between Hickory's feet and he grabbed him by his back, reared up and slammed him in the ground. Good thing I was there or he would have killed that cat like he did the goats. He rears and smashes em to the ground and then rubs his head on em then rears again, smashin em down again untill they die. I think that cat ran away.

  7. It absolutely blows my mind to think how much we love these murderous little fiends......

  8. Heh heh heh. My mare regularly tries to kill my timid border collie dog. As in flat out gallop with trampling intent towards him. Luckily he's thus far stayed close enough to the fence to beat a hasty retreat.

    Mugwump, I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog and I'm learning heaps from it. I'm a big fan of "good horsemanship" (I loathe calling it "natural horsemanship" too...I honestly think some people get into Parelli coz they don't ever want to "hit" Fluffy. ie, if my mare makes out that she's going to bite me, I'll send an elbow in her direction pretty quick smart. If she'd tried to bite the alpha mare in a herd, she'd have been kicked and driven away. Same difference no? but apparently I'm a sadist that enjoys beating on my horse.

    Anyway, due to my own lack of experience, I am having some fairly interesting issues with my mare (she's almost 4, I've has her for the last 3 years..yeah yeah, bad idea I + green = black + blue and all that. If she didn;t have the attitude issue we wouldn't have any dramas at all I spose). Our groundwork seems to be going great (mostly) but it just isn't translating well into the ridden work. I have a bloke I see regularly enough for lessons (he's Clinton Anderson trained I believe) but I also like getting a couple of opinions of what people think is going on. I would love to be able to email/post some of our bigger issues and get your take on it, if you didn't mind?

  9. Thankfully none of my horses have had murderous tendencies!

    The OTTB that I used to have would get beet pulp with corn oil mixed in, and one time he was eating it and the barn kittens (all five of them) decided they liked the corn oil. I looked in his stall and there they were, all lapping up the oily water as he munched on his beet pulp. He was not happy about it and was making all kinds of ugly faces, grinding his teeth, even bumping them with his nose, but he didn't bite and they didn't budge!