"Smile! It keeps your brain from falling out when you're frustrated!" - Clinton Anderson (Downunder Horsemanship)

"They say boys never grow up, their toys just get bigger. I say I never grew up, my 'My Little Ponies' just got bigger!" - Me

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lady, Where Is Your Brain Today?

Lady definitely had a not so typical Lady kind of day yesterday. Yes, even the most quiet steady eddie has one of those days from time to time. Thankfully for Lady, they are usually few and far between, maybe one or two a year, but yesterday was definitely one of them. Not really sure why, but I think she checked her brain at the arena door and picked it up on the way out.

Saddled her up yesterday and headed to the indoor arena with both of my girls. I usually take Cody with us and tie her up along the wall while I work Lady. Good tying and patience practice for Cody, she used to be a bad puller and a very impatient horse when tied, usually standing there digging to China the whole time. She's gotten MUCH better over the years, but still, might as well kill two birds with one stone and train both girls at the same time. It usually draws some odd questions or comments from newer boarders that aren't used to me doing this. I mean, why on earth would you tie your lame unridable just had knee surgery horse up in the arena while you ride the sound one? I usually just shrug and say "Moral support for Lady."

Fall 2010

But anywho, we made it to the indoor arena and tied Cody in her usual spot, then walked over to close the monster heavy overhead door that usually requires my entire 125 pounds hanging off it to eventually get it pulled down. Lady's bug eyed stare and steps backward as I wrestled with the overhead door should have been my first indication that she'd checked her brain at the door. Score a point for my mecate reins, Lady was able to take a couple steps back to a "safe distance" and I still had plenty of lead line draped over my arm in case she did decide to take off so I could continue wrestling with the door, which was particularly stubborn yesterday.

Door finally closed, I discovered someone had left a jump set up kind of close to the wall. No biggie, but I decided to move it so I could work on the rail without having to squeeze between jump and wall and risk getting my knees banged into something every time I went by. So lead line draped over my arm, I set the rails down on the ground. Lady took a step back. I picked up one of the jump standards to carry it out of the way, and Lady freaked. Big snort, eyes wide, flying backwards several steps. Another point for the mecate reins, Lady retreated to a safe distance and I still had ahold of her and the jump standard. And it's obvious now that Lady is definitely having one of those really rare off days, because I can't count the number of times I have picked up and/or dragged those jump standards around to move them out of the way with her lead line just draped over my arm or shoulder because they require two hands to move, and Lady following along behind me like a half asleep puppy dog. And while she did follow along behind me, it was at a very bug eyed distance, making full use of that 12 foot of mecate lead line, no half asleep puppy dog yesterday!

One standard moved, and we go get the second one, and same reaction when I picked it up. Ok, I should probably desensitize her to it at this point, but those standards are way too blasted heavy to stand there picking them up over and over to desensitize my horse, and I realize Lady is just having one of those rare off days, she'll most likely be over it and be back to her old self next time I have to do this, like she normally does when she has a bad day, but if she's not, I'll worry about it then rather than throwing my back out lifting these heavy things when it probably won't even phase her on any other day. Pick your battles.

Winter 2006

So standards moved, and we headed back to move the rails, which I decided to leave down as ground poles along the wall for her to walk and trot over. I picked one pole up to move it where I want it, and Lady spooks. I picked the other pole up and moved it, and Lady spooks. This could be an interesting ride. I walked Lady up to one of the poles and she's watching it wearily, and as soon as her front feet get about a foot away from it, her eyes go wide, and she's rocked back on her haunches and shifting lightly on her front feet, standing there like a cutting horse waiting for a cow to move. Ok Lady, now this is getting a bit silly. Eventually she reaches down to sniff it, snorting at it loudly, and when her snorting blew dirt on it, she went flying backwards again. OMG, it made a noise!!! Well, good thing I didn't get out the tarp to work with like I had considered doing, that would have really blown her mind!

Ok, time to pull out the Clinton Anderson groundwork and get her using the thinking side of her brain! And score another point for the mecate reins, I don't need to go get a lunge line out of the barn, because I already have a 12 foot one in my hand! So we work on lunging for respect and the sending exercise over the ground poles. At first she was stopping wide eyed in front of the pole every time, then jumping over it, then she'd finally keep going, but would still jump over it, eventually she was finally tip toeing over them, making sure to lift her feet extra high.

Eventually she pretty well clamed down about the ground poles, thinking rather than reacting, but I noticed she looked a little foot sore on her front feet. Lady's feet grow like wild fire between trimmings, even in the winter, so my farrier always has to trim her a little on the short side when he does her feet to prevent her from getting just way too long and out of balance between trimmings, and when she doesn't have shoes on in the winter, she can be a little tender footed for a couple days if I don't use her easy boots. She did just get her feet trimmed on Thursday, and I thought she would be ok without her boots, but apparently I was wrong, and her easy boots were down in the barn. Score yet another point for the mecate reins, because there is a certain way you can loop and tie them so that they become a neck rope that won't pull on the bit if the horse pulls back, and enables you to safely tie your horse with a bridle on. So mecate rigged up for tying, I tied Lady to the wall next to Cody and headed off to the barn to get her easy boots, grumbling the whole way because, in my opinion, easy boots are anything but easy to put on, but I haven't found any other boots that work on her feet without rubbing her raw.

As I returned to the arena with "easy" boots in hand and the tools required to up them on with (hoof pick and nylon strap), I started talking to let the girls know I'm coming, because Cody tends to spook if the people door suddenly flies open unexpectedly. Well, this time it was Lady who did the spook in place and bug eyed stare when the door opened, while Cody merely shifted her head to look then went back to her nap, one back foot still cocked. Maybe Cody's holding Lady's brain for her today?

Ten minutes and a few curse words later, and Lady was finally sporting her easy boot epics on her front feet and looking more comfortable as she moved. But in the time it had taken to retrieve her boots and put them on, and get on her back, the ground poles had apparently grown teeth again. Seriously, Lady?!? Score still another point for the mecate reins as back down to the ground I go, unlooping the lead line from the saddle horn, and back to the groundwork we went.

Summer 2004
Eventually I got back on her, and had a decent short little ride, though she was still a little extra attentive of those ground poles every time we went over them, but she kept her theatrics in check. Even still, I didn't do too much with her in the saddle. Mainly some flexing, some collecting at the walk and trot, some backing (as long as we weren't backing too close in the direction of those evil ground poles, then her feet got a little glued to the ground), and trotted some of the clover leaf pattern. But her brain obviously wasn't there yesterday, so wasn't much point in doing too much with her, she'd already worked quite a bit on the ground, and I do have to be careful of the arthritis in her hocks, she's not a spring chicken anymore.

So again standing at a bug eyed distance as I rolled my eyes at her and wrestled and grunted to open the overhead door, we collected Cody and headed for the barn. And I guess she found her brain again upon exiting the arena, because she was back to her old self in the barn, standing there half asleep, back leg cocked as I unsaddled, took off her polos and put her blanket back on. So I guess it was just one of those odd days for Lady. I hope so anyway, since she has a riding lesson to give tonight!

Oh Lady, you're such a silly girl sometimes!


  1. This time of year is great for making the steady horses go a little bonkers. C.A. is great for getting their brains back in their heads. I have mecate reins on a rope hackamore that I haven't ridden in for a while. Are those yours in the first picture? You'll have to pardon the stupidity, but where on the bridle do they attach to?

  2. We all have off days. :-) I am going to have to look up those mecate reins you mention. Love the pics. She's a lovely girl and is aging quite nicely!

  3. LOL Lady, you nut! Of course it's not funny at the time, but it makes for good reading:) I can't believe she spooked at ground poles of all things. Not all the scary equipment, or the corners, but...ground poles:) I hope she was good for the kids tonight:)

    That door is going to be the death of me...SOOOO heavy!

    Finally, your Holiday card was beautiful. Gorgeous picture of Wayne.

  4. Dom, yup, the tan ones in the picture are my mecate reins. I have a couple sets of them, two on snaffle bridles (one for Lady, one for Cody) and one set on a bosal bridle. I had never used them before until I started playing around with some of the CA stuff a couple years ago, now I'm hooked, I really like them, and very handy. lol! You attach them to a bridle using a set of leather slobber straps, those are the leather straps on her bit, and the reins run through them.

    Wolfie, thanks Lady is a sweetheart! I really like the mecate reins. You can get them in either nylon rope or braided horse hair. You see them on bosal bridles a lot, but I definitely like them on the snaffle bits too.

    Sarah, isn't that a hoot? And so NOT like Lady! And yeah, ground poles?!?!? I couldn't help but laugh at her. Thankfully she was a good girl tonight, and walked right over the ground poles like they weren't even there. Never batted an eye at them!

  5. Lady sure is pretty though..her coloring changes so much! 2 or 3 times a year she acts like this...wow, jealous! :)

  6. She's actually a liver chestnut, but she sun bleaches really bad. So she goes from a liver color in the spring when she sheds, and gets lighter all summer till she's really bleached out and almost matches her mane, then come fall she start getting dark again. lol! She definitely has a wide range of colors!