Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Yesterday I got to the barn about 4, after a big thunderstorm and cold front had moved in. (Cold = 50s instead of 70s. Love our climate.) I was determined to work with Quinn, so I spent three hours down there, mostly messing with her.

I'd gone by Home Depot and gotten some rope and clips, and I installed my very own set of crossties in front of my tack room. There's three other sets of crossties in my barn, but neither the horses nor I like them. Our aisle is maaaaybe six feet wide - a cooperative horse can turn around in the aisle, but just barely. And the other crossties are all in front of other horses' stalls, who can make nasty faces and lean out and try to bite my horses. So I wanted my very own crossties.

Anyway, I put Quinn in the new crossties and brushed her down. Then I brutally attacked her sprayed Show Sheen in her mane. But she was very clear that it was a brutal and unjustified attack. I got a good 2/3ds of her amazingly long silky mane very gently untangled and combed out, and she calmed down and seemed to enjoy it. Eventually, we were both bored with the mane thing and moved on to saddle work.

I tried about half of my amazing collection of random bits, but none of them seemed to suit her as well as the bit she's used to (double twisted wire curb wrapped in vetwrap). So I put the normal tack on and led her out into the dark and windy night to practice being calm. We spent about 15 frustrating minutes getting her to stand still for me to stand on my milk crate and mount up, then we did one lap around the arena and one lap up and down the driveway. Then I got back off, scritched her mane for a minute, and started trying to get her to stand again.

Eventually (I'm slow sometimes) I realized that Quinn did not know what I wanted. No one had ever taught her to stand to be mounted. She was most comfortable with me at her head, and not very happy about letting me stand at the stirrup - she wanted to turn and face me, or back up to put me near her head. But once I realize she just didn't know, things got a lot easier. I rewarded every little half-second of being still by scritching her mane, and immediately stopped scritching as soon as she moved. She was still very nervous about the whole thing, but she started displaying the nervousness by trying to stick her face between my arm and my torso, instead of trying to back away. I spent a while getting her to stand with me at her stirrup, then a while longer getting her to stand with me on my milk crate by her stirrup. Eventually, I mounted up and we did one more lap around the arena and then called it a night. It wasn't much of a workout, but we both learned a lot and we seemed to bond quite well.

This evening I spent three hours mucking two stalls. I proclaim the Stall Experiment to be finished. It's just way too much trouble for me to lock them up and ruin their feet. Tomorrow I'll get the other two stalls stripped and re-bedded, and I'll go back to only stalling them when it's very cold and raining.

This weekend I need to pick a horse and touch up its feet. I'm planning on getting back on the "one horse every Sunday" trimming schedule. Going to keep working with Quinn, both on the ground and in the saddle. I hope she calms down about me touching her soon so I can start trying to untangle her amazingly long silky tail. It's kind of fun having a beautiful horse with that picturesque flowing mane and tail, but it's kind of an awful lot of work too.

I am completely exhausted, and the kitten just knocked over a houseplant. Dirt everywhere in the kitchen. The poor plant (a pineapple plant that I grew from a fruit top) was half-dead from neglect anyway, so I suppose I'll just vacuum up the dirt and throw the plant out. Sigh. He has come to apologize by laying on my chest and purring, so I'm not too mad at him.

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