Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scared or Mad/Tally 4

“Okay, let’s try an easy jog, relax your hands, let the tension run down your back, into your legs and out your toes,” I had choked down enough arena dust to keep me full until the next morning.

The school horses were about over the thrill of teaching kids to ride, as they shuffled past Annie wrinkled her nostril and glared at me, Brandy went so far as to shake her head until rings on her sidepull jingled.

They knew whose fault this third lesson was.

“OK girls, now we’re relaxed, we’re going to keep our legs loose, our seat balanced, chins up aaaaaaaand lope.”

The last lope around the arena was for Brandy’s benefit. If she hadn’t made that face I’d have let them quit.

The girls were giggling when they stopped and the two wise school horses headed for the tie-rail. They knew it was five-o-clock and they weren’t packing the squeakers for another single step.

Tally came up to the gate of her pen and watched the girls unsaddle the old mares. I walked past and went to sit in my chair in the corner.

She flicked an ear at me as I went by but kept her attention on the girls. Bill hobbled down the alleyway and sat down next to me. It was the first time I had seen him in six weeks.

“Hey Bill,” I said.

“Hey yourself,” he said.

We sat in a fairly friendly silence and watched the girls groom the horses.

“Are they too hot to put them up?” One of the girls asked with hope vibrating
in her voice.

“Maybe a little,” I answered, “why don’t you hop on them and walk
around awhile.”

The kids didn’t ask twice, they scrambled up bareback and rode off whispering and laughing, the mares walking in tandem with their heads low.

“Those mares ain’t hot,” Bill said with a laugh.

I reached out my boot and kicked him a little.

“They can ride around until their folks show up,” I told him, “ I like
those two.”

“You know they tell their folks to come late so they can ‘cool them
out’”, he said.

“It doesn’t hurt anything, besides they’ll feed for me. How’re you
feeling?” I asked.

“Pretty good, Dad says you’ve taken good care of my mare,” Bill said.

“I haven’t done anything,” I said, "she is quieting down some.”

“Can you touch her?”

“I haven’t tried,” I said, and got up stiff legged to dust off my jeans.

“C’mon girls,” I called out, “let’s go feed.”

I left Bill sitting in his chair, watching the bay mare. I saw her start
to pace around her small pen. The pressure from his steady gaze began to make her twitch like she had a fly.

The next morning I brought Sonita in to run off a little snort. She was full of pep and jigged a little at the end of the lead rope. She kept plenty of slack and didn’t try to pass my shoulder so I let her be, even when she kicked up a little.

She stood quiet while I untied her halter and walked out to the middle of the arena for a long luxurious roll. She exploded as she stood up and took off without taking the time to shake off the dust.

I leaned against the empty holding pen and watched her play. Tally twirled in place like a circus dog, so excited to see Sonita run she forgot to worry about me being so close.

“Hey you, hey, hey, I’d like to let you out,” I said in a low, quiet singsong, ”but I can’t.”

Tally glanced over at me and settled back at the gate.

She turned her attention to Sonita and watched her blast down the wall of the indoor. I walked out into the middle of the arena and Sonita charged, I ducked left and she buried her hocks into the ground to cut left. She lowered her head and bared her teeth. I dodged right and she moved with me. I took off running and she flew along side, blocking me neat as a pin. We kept it up until she started leaning into me.

“That’s enough,” I raised my hands and stood straight. Sonita could tell I was only mildly serious and snorted at me before taking off with a fart and a buck.

I went back to the fence and pulled my halter and lead off the pen.

Bill came around the corner. Tally spun off the gate and scrambled into the corner, her head low and her feet dancing.

“You’re mare has her all fired up,” he grumbled.

I went back to the middle of the arena and waited. Sonita trotted around me a few times with her tail flagged, snorting and inviting me to play. When she saw I was serious she stopped and waited for me to tie her halter back on.

I tied Sonita to the wall and went to get the first of my rides. When I came back Bill was in the pen with Tally. She stood with her head jammed tight between her front legs, shoved as far into her corner as she could get.

Bill stood next to her, murmuring and rubbing her back, neck and butt. Her feet drummed a steady rhythm and I could see the tremors ripple across her flanks.

The boss came in and stood watching Bill, his chest puffed with pride. He walked over to me and stood across from the filly I was currying.

“He’s a hand isn’t he,” he asked.

“He’s something,” I answered.

The boss stepped back and folded his arms. I watched the light cool in his eyes but managed to keep my gaze level. Something had shifted between us and I felt an uneasy knot tangle in my stomach.

Bills quiet murmurs cut through the dusty air.


Fyyahchild said...

Man, Janet, you are trying to kill us all with the anticipation, aren't you? Great stuff.

Bif said...

I've found NOT LOOKING at the skittish ones helps tremendously.

Stacey said...

Wow, Bill really had a death wish, didn't he?

stilllearning said...

So sad.
Tally is so afraid, and Bill is so wrong...

...and he doesn't have a clue.

How many horses suffer from well-meant ignorance?

lopinon4 said...

Oh, Lord....these cliffhangers are going to be the death of me!

Jennifer said...

I'm learning a lot, and I wanted to share your stories with my readers, too.

rheather said...

My first thought is, how did Bill do when Tally blew(again) in such a small space? Was he 'just' trampled(again) or was he killed this time? I imagine she's dead either way.

And since my brain decided to work finally-I need to use your method on one of my goat babies. She's the only one who wants nothing to do with me-usually you can get them over the icky people hump by holding and scritching, but not her. So it's time to back off and acclimate. Thanks Mugs!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mugs, you need to Tag this entry for Tally. I like to reread the whole lot once you finnish and it's easier to find if you tag them all. :) Thanks for such awesome stories, I really enjoy reading your blog.


Anonymous said...

Aaaahhhh, didn't want it to end!!!

Some parents really are blind when it comes to their kids aren't they. Wasn't bad enough that Bill was hurt pretty bad the first time but his pop's going to let him back at this mare doing the same thing again???!!! Yeesh

Anonymous said...

This isn't going to have a warm, fuzzy ending...

Jane A

crochetyolelady said...

allrighty then, WHEN is the next installment? Mugs, when I read a book, I read it from front to back, cant put it down, I dont deal with suspense very well! lol

Anonymous said...

Oh man.. some people just have NO instinct for how animals communicate. Very unfortunate.

Mugs, your stories are so killer. I check your blog every day in the hopes there will be a new post!

Shanster said...

Aw - this post left me feeling sad... poor Tally and poor Bill who just doesn't get it. And now the unraveling begins between you and your boss...

i know nothing said...

aaack. Working with my crazed mare that hears voices and is a bubble off center made me liken working with her to an opposite sex relationship. I'm thinking of stuff like someone who drools when he kisses, or reaches down your shirt the second he sees you. Stuff that maybe someone else doesn't mind or even likes, but you think is creepy. The keeper will take a hint and change to a more agreeable approach.

My mare despises being patted, only long strokes will do. And if you make too much eye contact with her while lunging, it's cause for squealing and bolting and changing directions. But then I have to add in the extra variable of what the voices are telling her that day. I know that she is the one who has to get over a lot of issues, but if she doesn't like drooly kisses, then so be it. We're all different.

Tally was speaking loudly and clearly. Bill was clueless.

Heidi the Hick said...

This is all sinking in very slowly for me... having finally been able to spend time with my horses every day, after so many years of weekends-only, I'm thinking a lot about how I handle them, how I relate to them physically.

I"ve dealt with a wild yearling situation. I was about 11. I sat on the cement trough in her stall for hours waiting for her to get hungry enough to reach for the hay. Of course I had to reach out and touch her and of course she backed off. But y'know, I was a kid and had zero self control. I guess some of us take longer to learn those lessons.

The thing is, now I am just way too old for that stuff. I almost can't even listen to stories about it. However I am reading this anxiously and with huge interest...

gtyyup said...

It really had to be tough working and having to see that, and not say anything. My tongue would have been bitten in half!

mugwump said...

Th thing is, this family had owned horses for years.
They were firm believers in the spirituality of the horses and the strength of their individuality.
They were mistaking their own sense of spirituality with the horses.
This is a very dangerous track to follow.
I was just as clueless when I started with horses. I met a few good horses, a few good adults, got a healthy dose of reality and was sheltered by sheer dumb luck.

mommyrides-Bill wasn't a kid.He was in his late 20's or early 30's while this was going on.

TalkTeke said...

If I were you, I don't know what would anger me more: Bill's clueless approach to Tally or the poor handling that led to Cupcake.

Right now I'm having a problem with my pushy 2 y/o. She is a very dominant filly, got spoiled in her boarded situation (she was the only cute foal). She got spoiled by other boarders and their friends and family, even though I asked for them to not touch or feed her. And now she is home with me and I cannot really get after her because I am 6 months preggers and not as fast or agile as I used to be. I'll have to send her to the trainer. Luckily I just found one that is similar views to me and suggested 2 weeks to work on ground manners and teach lounging. EXACTLY what I was thinking! But annoying I have to send her out!

I would try Mugwump Methods if I was able. Do some experimenting. Oh, well.

AngelsGrace said...

seriously....when are we gonna get a book out of you?!?!?!

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