Walk Softly and Carry an Orange Stick, Part I
This may be a two-parter b/c Nashville Star is on in twenty and I am not missing a minute of it.
Well. After staying up til almost 4 am last night blogging myself up to date, rising before 10 just wasn't an option. Besides, it's Saturday! I woke up around 11:30 and hoped that someone had the foresight to put WF out despite my affirmative response to Karen last night when she asked if I wanted her left in. (Someone did, so WF got out around 12:30.) I rolled into the barn around 2:00. The lot was full! I actually had to park on the grass. Everyone and their brother was there and a couple people trailered in their friends. Very busy day.
Nicole was playing with Makona in the round pen. Julie was playing with Doc in the neighboring barn's corral (no mares). Beth and Erika were waiting for Rita and Nora to return from riding Beth and Erika's horses (Benny and Ransom). Nic's daughter Sara was playing with Weapon (Bruce M's horse). Bruce was out. Karen was out. All kinds of people. So I figured I'd have a long wait for the pen. Didn't matter. Yesterday went so well I didn't feel the need to worry today.
So today was more like a Barn Social for me. I talked horses with Beth and Erika until Rita and Nora arrived back safely. Nora is looking for a horse to part-lease. I went and got Cheerios for her to meet. Because so much was going on, I just didn't feel right saddling him up for a try-out so she just got to be around him for a while. She'll have to come out during the week when it's less crowded so it's more safe. I talked with her for quite awhile to garner her level of savvy. Hmm. She might have some jumping lessons under her belt, but honestly, judging just by her stories, and these were recent events, she may not be the kind of rider for him. (A lot of people think they know how to ride, or know horses, but don't know that they really don't. "You don't know what you don't know—but horses know what you don't know."
I'll have to wait and observe how she handles him in hand and under saddle before I can make that determination. Talking to her, I have my doubts. But I'll keep an open mind until then. She hasn't even said for sure she wants to do it.
After they all left, I took Cheerios with me to watch Nic play with Weapon. It was a good experience for both of us. Weapon has a "you and what army" attitude about moving his feet; he is very stubborn, aggressive, and has been known to strike out and rear when he doesn't want to do something. Bruce M, his owner, wears spurs to ride in b/c he didn't think he could get Weapon to walk on unless he had them on and used them. Bruce also "lets Weapon decide where he wants to go and how fast". So Bruce doesn't really ask much of Weapon and Weapon walks all over him. Bruce had a lesson earlier this week on how to ride bareback w/o spurs and how to ask your horse politely to go and stop and it's had a positive effect on his riding. However, he's still got that male pride thing going and isn't ready to own up to what he doesn't know.
Anyway, the whole point to that is to highlight Weapon's attitude. Nic had to use a very strong Phase 4 to get a response from Weapon. That meant the carrot stick was slicing through the air with a very audible aggressive whipping sound—the exact thing that makes Cheerios' eyes bug out and makes him lose it. So it was quite a test to be standing inside the barn, peering over the gate, calmly stroking Cheerios' neck and acting as if the sound meant nothing and breathing deeply to counteract that awful vibrating butterfly feeling I get in my solar plexus when his nerves kick in. It's so tangible you can almost touch his fear. I allowed him to drift backwards but kept stroking him. He did ok, he didn't try to bolt or run me over, but he wasn't happy about it.
So Nic finished up with Weapon and asked if I was gonna play with Cheerios. I said "Actually, I was hoping YOU might want to." She happily agreed.
Nashville Star is about to begin so I will continue this later.