Monday, January 25, 2010

Mouthy Mondays-

The mind meld is going to be fun. This will be an exercise in patience for all of us.I'll start the new blog sometime this week (in all my copious spare time) and we'll start shaping up this project.

I hope everybody will be willing to put their two cents in. I'm sure you guys know I'm not a Parelli fan or real big on the clicker training.

It doesn't mean I don't acknowledge these methods as legitimate ways to train a horse. Their simply not my methods.

So I'm encouraging all types of thoughts and how-to's. I'll fit them into the piece we're working on and offer them as an option. This is about giving each other the best we have to offer so please join in.

In the meantime, here's a fun, fun post. I could sooooo relate to this one.

My blog is

A Reminder of My Misspent Youth

Today was a gorgeous day. A little breezy, in the 70s, the sun shining. I got to the barn around noonish.

I groomed Dusty first, giving him a long work over with the rubber mitt, really massaging his withers and shoulder and butt. He made the horse faces of appreciation.

I also wormed him, and he made the horse faces of disapproval: tense lips and chin, ears half-back, the hairy eyeball... completely disgusted. As usual, he would sniff but refused any and all treats for about 15-20 minutes afterwards. Shuffling carrot bits and Kashi Bar crumbs around in his grain bucket, he was a pitiable picture. But he got over it - they were gone when it was time to be turned out.

Tico'd been doing his usual jealousy faces at Dusty while I'd been giving Dusty attention, seesaw bucking in his stall: butt up, shoulder up, butt up, shoulder up, ears back, threatening to kick the wall (he's been seriously screamed at when he DOES kick the wall so he doesn't do it that often anymore).

He got growled at a bunch of times today, and each time - my attention now on him - his ears would go forward and he'd give my his angelic face, "Who, me? Wha?" and poke his nose out through the hole by the grain bucket, mugging for a treat. Brat. Sometimes, he got them. OK, most of the time. I'm a sucker for a cute face.

I put Dusty away and got Tico out. I brushed him, cleaned his feet, put on his leg wraps, saddled him up, coated him in fly spray, and headed outside. Of course, this all took more than an hour - I'm a slow groomer, and easily distracted - I like to play with him: tickle and kiss his nose, scritch his ears, make him move his legs by pointing at them, have him do silly tricks, for which he earns carrot bits, so he's a more than willing participant.

I mounted up in the indoor and we headed out the back door. About 5 steps out, he stopped.

Sometimes I indulge him. He likes to sight-see, so I sat still in the saddle while, head high, he gazed fixedly to the right. One of the trailers usually parked there was gone, maybe he was noticing that, I'm not sure. Then, turning to the left, he looked over in the direction of some of the turnouts, where horses were standing around, heads down, ignoring each other. Then again, to the right; then straight ahead.

I was getting a bit tired of the view, so I nudged him. He didn't budge. I nudged again. Nothing. I poked with the spurs and he woke up and started walking, just as Elaine, one of the other boarders, was walking towards us. "He's practicing to be a statue today", I said to Elaine, and she chuckled.

We wove on down the path between the turnouts, heading to the gate to the back field. The clover along side the turnouts was calling to him, I was preventing him from eating it, and so we sort of oozed along from one side of the path to the other, eventually making it to the back ring. Once there our path was a bit straighter - no grass to tempt him, and he knew that in that back field there was a lot of taller grass he could snipe a grab at walking along.

Have I mentioned that he's a pig?

Anyway, we got out to the back field finally, and started walking along. There are paths out there that go alongside the power lines, I was heading out to follow them. I had no other plan in mind - I considered going on the trails in the woods but I'd done that yesterday. I thought I might just take it easy - the view was wonderful, with some trees already turning red and yellow, and the taller golden stalks of grass waving with the easy breeze, the sun shining down... a perfect early fall day.

When we got to the part of the path that paralleled the power lines, I thought I'd ask for a trot. Tico willingly went into it, then up into a canter.

The wind was whistling by my ears, almost deafening, as he went into a full gallop. Wheeee! We galloped from the far end of the field up to where the path gets gravelly; that's where I asked him to stop. He did, eventually - my fat boy whose favorite gait is usually "whoa" had his head up, ears pricked, and actually pranced! He'd enjoyed himself.

I turned him around and we galloped off again, down the same path, until we got to where someone had dropped a tree across the path. I pulled him up (him still reluctant to stop), and we did it again. And again. Up and back.

I felt both afraid (he was, after all, the horse who helped me to invent the "Superman Emergency Dismount" and super-alive. The wind whipped my face, stinging my cheeks. I know I'm 54 and shouldn't be riding like this. I know it's crazy and it's dangerous, and most importantly I know I'm mortal. The last time I rode a horse like this, I was an indestructible teen. And Dusty, in sedate hand-gallops, never felt this wild, this close to untamed.

On the final gallop, from the graveled area to the downed tree, I thought "I wonder if he's tired?" He's in better shape than he used to be, but if pressed to describe what kind of shape he was in, it's still pretty much "round".

I reached forward with the reins, midway up his neck, and leaned a bit forward. I never touched him with my legs; just the opposite, I was trying Very Hard NOT to touch him with the spurs at all.

He shifted into Sixth Gear. I could feel him both coil up and stretch out, close to the ground, flying. Oh. My.God. OH. MY. F------G. GOD!!!!!!! Yeah!!!!

About 20 feet before the downed tree, I started to yell "whoa" and sit back. He galloped on. I sat back more, really trying to grind my butt into the saddle, and took hold of the reins. We turned off to circle to the right, at a *slightly* slower gallop. I finally got him stopped about 20 feet from the gate back to the barn.

He walked a couple of steps, then jogged, and tried to go faster again. "No, no, we're done for the day", I said, and walked him on past the gate to the track on the other side of the field, to get him walked down a bit.

I let him stop and nosh a few times, too. He'd given me an incredible adrenaline rush, it was the least I could do.


  1. I could SOOOOO relate to this one as well!!!
    We won't grow old as long as we have the horses, will we??
    Go girl, take the tree next time!

  2. OH how much fun was that story! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Mugs, (sorry not related to post) I am so FREAKING excited... Got a coming 4 year old smart little lena (top and bottom) coming to be MINE this wednesday. HUGE issues. Scaredy cat, scared of his own shadow, people, super reactive and sensitive, feely, I could go on and on, BUT, he has a years worth of reining training on him so he has BUTTONS!!!

    I think I have a Sonita type gelding coming my way and I am super super excited....

    (sorry for hijacking the comments and not being related to post! had to share)

  4. HorseOfCourse - the tree was about 2 feet in diameter with 2 foot long spikes from branches that hadn't been removed very cleanly. Maybe if it hadn't had the spikes... :)

  5. Way to go! You're my hero! I've just recently begun to let my pony run occasionally, but haven't let her run flat out. There's always that little niggling "what if we fall at this speed?" going on in the back of my head.

  6. Wow, I haven't felt the rush of adrenaline like that since I was in my teens. Thank you for sharing this story!

  7. Sometimes. . . you just have to feel like a kid again, don't you? Fearless and jacking up your stirrups to play jockey and doing stuff your adult brain says you shouldn't. Good times.

    Natalie Keller Reinert
    Retired Racehorse Blog

  8. Sounds like both you and your horse had some energy to discharge. I'll bet it was fun.

  9. I will very occasionally do this on my mare. The green one, the one that likes to buck. There is very reaqly fear, but she is FAST and it's the best way to forget your worries... thanks for posting, I like your blog. :)

  10. :)

    Took Starlette to an indoor and played with running one barrel. The first two times we cantered..then the third, after the turn, I asked her for some speed! She dug in and it was a blast! I gotta do more of that...I need gallop time! She dug in so fast I lurched around!

    Yeah for us over a half-century and still riding...and fast!

  11. Eek I love that adrenaline rush. I used to board at a barn with a track behind it. I like to keep my rides a little different every time, so I'd alternate between flatwork, jumping, just a hang out buck/fart/run freelunge, hacking, polework, etc. and once a week or so I'd take my gelding out back to the track.

    We'd warm up w/t/c, do some leg yielding etc. 'real work' and then after a walk break I'd just let him loose. He was a big boy, pushing 17hh, some sort of TB X, and boy could he run. I was always worried of the 'what if', since falling at that speed would be a decent injury without a doubt. But he really loved having a chance to just GO, and let off some steam. I think everyone should try at least once in their lifetime to really let their horse go, no holding back, just to know what it feels like to be going at that speed, and how terrifying it is when they find another gear, after you already thought they were giving everything. Quite the thrill!

  12. Badges- I'm really happy for you and hope your new horse works out.
    Please bear something in mind. Sonita has an enormous flight response, but also the heart of a lion.
    She wasn't afraid of much.
    I think you have a different kind of horse here, but possibly every bit as cool.

  13. can't wait for your first post on the mind meld. I am already following!

  14. Hey Mugs,
    I read your blog constantly but rarely comment(like twice since the inception of the blog I think). I saw something that I would like to send to you as a small Thank You for your generous gift of writing for all of us. Is the address (P.O. Box) listed where one can order Christmas cards an appropriate one to use?

  15. This brings back such fun memories. We also had an old racetrack we could hack to; it was unused but the sand footing was still good for a safe gallop. My old TB would just light up when we'd set foot on it (tho he wasn't that old back then) and we'd just FLY. Fun!

  16. Hey Mugs, I was hoping to get some advice for a horse who has one more chance before she ends up with a bullet in the head. She's a BLM mustang with limited sight in one eye who's really nervous about being ridden. Nervous is an understatement. She's rodeo bronc, trying to jump 6 foot fence panels, blind panic, scared. One minute she's nervous but coping, and the next minute... wow. Do you have any advice for a situation like this? Have you ever seen a horse like this work out of that kind of fear? Have you ever sedated a horse to help them overcome an issue like this? She's been worked with stuff hanging off of her, etc, and it's the same routine. Thanks for anyone's help who may have an idea here. We are pretty desperate!

  17. Anon.- Thanks for the support. I let the P.O. box lapse. I should probably take the page down for the time being.
    My poor studio is a bit dusty.
    Red Horse - Be really careful. If I have explosions with a horse like this I back way off.
    I would round pen this horse, very quietly but firmly.
    This is the horse I would want to be touching all over before I ever put a halter on her.
    Gttyup has a rope on a pole system that should work with a horse like this, I'd go to her blog and ask her some questions.
    Be very, very careful. This kind of horse will take you out without ever knowing you're there.

  18. Hey Mugs,
    Yes, I shall pester you. Is there an acceptable P.O. box or work address I could use? Ya gotta get fanmail by now! Lol!

  19. Thanks for the advice Mugs; I'll head over and bug her a bit, but after another terrible session tonight (after a year of terrible sessions) looks like she'll be going back to the BLM. I'm so excited to follow this mind meld through the training process!

  20. (reposting as i posted in the wrong spot!)

    GAWD! I was up until midnight last night reading through the sonita stories again so I could get some ideas for my new boy Mugs.. Sheesh..

    First plan of action: Ride him and turn his head loose! he is going to probably panic!

  21. This was an AMAZING story. Thank you so very much for sharing. It's inspirational really. You've got a few years on me but I've got some very new pieces of metal in my spine. It's good to know that you are able to drown out the voice in your head telling you "this could hurt and I know I'm mortal". Gives me hope that I can do that, too, in a few months when I'm allowed back on my horse.
    And when I am allowed to.... Mugs, do you have any advice for dealing with a very dull-sided mare? She's incredibly responsive to the bit, is 8 yrs old and just had 30 days with a trainer for her first under saddle training. Super quiet, no ooomph, and dull sided. Trainer rode her with blunt spurs. ??


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