Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things I Sometimes Take For Granted

There are some qualities that McKinna possesses that I am very grateful for, but sometimes forget to be. Things that she does that Bailey never did and possibly never would, just because of personality. Things that most horses will never do, perhaps because their owners wouldn't take the time. Stuff like that.

It's not that these are things I wouldn't normally expect of a horse -- because I would. It's just that I am grateful for so many of her traits, and I wanted to list a few of them!

So --

  • Never, ever pulls back when tied.
  • Never panics when she gets caught up in something.
  • Pretty much never bucks.
  • Leads perfectly. Stops on a dime, backs up, forehand turn, haunch turn, sidepass, whatever I want, she does it.
  • Stands (albeit with a long-suffering look on her face) like a statue when we spend an hour washing her entire body. Yes, owning a grey sucks.
  • Never offers an ears-pinned nasty face to a person for any reason.
  • Sound. Knocking on wood.
  • Neck reins. (My horses forevermore will neck rein, whether they're English horses to the gills or not.)
  • Cheerfully goes through water, over bridges, past all kinds of noisy motorized vehicles, etc.
  • Stops when I say ho.
  • Has no bad habits.
  • Actually enjoys being groomed (Bailey hated grooming, period. The only time he ever enjoyed it was when I was scratching a really good itch, and that was only when he was shedding).
  • Has really adorable form over fences.
  • Trailers perfectly. Every time. (As much training and practice and work we did with Bailey, he just was never comfortable in trailers. He'd load right away, he'd stand fine, he'd unload safely, but he still disliked them.)
  • Is an easy keeper. I love only feeding a handful of orchard grass pellets, instead of six pounds of Ultium.
  • Stands politely for the farrier. Less politely for the vet, but doesn't fight shots of any kind.
  • Tolerates worming. With disgusted faces.
  • Comes when she's called, mostly (I plan to play around with this and see if I can get it really sharp).
  • Respects fencing, regardless of substantialness of said fencing.
  • Tolerates my random experiments, like cantering bareback in a Batman costume.
  • Gets along well with other horses, minus squealing at all the boys when she's in heat.
  • Stands rock still for fly spray, clipping, brushing, braiding, etc.
  • Has a cheerful, "What's next?" attitude.
Okay, so that was a bit of a ridiculous list, and a lot of things on it are things I'd expect from any horse (holds still for farrier, holds still for fly spray, stops, goes over stuff, and so on). But the fact remains that it's so easy with her.

Even though we worked through so many of his issues, Bailey was just not the kind of horse that settled down easily. So even through all his improvements, he was still nervous in the trailer, he was still kind of an ass for the farrier, and he still hated grooming. On the other hand, he did learn to trailer, mostly stand for the farrier, stand as still as McKinna for bathing, never fought the vet (even for that terrible intranasal Strangles vaccine), and so on. He wasn't a demon, after all, he was just a high-energy horse that I hadn't worked all the kinks out with.


Anyway, here's an example of just how chill McKinna really is:

She hates having her face washed. Hates it. She'll tolerate it if you do it with a washcloth, but that's it. No hose near her head is okay.

Tonight I finally got fed up with washing her forelock by pulling it backwards towards her neck. So I started working on the hose-face thing. Turned the water down low, approach and retreat, the usual. I had my mom give her treats when she relaxed.

Not exactly the most sophisticated training regime, as you can see. But with matters this simple, I know McKinna is easy to convince. Once she 1. understands what you want and 2. realizes there's food involved, she's sold. She knew damn well what I wanted, and she was nervous, but she was willing to ignore her fright if she got treats out of the deal.

Within five minutes, she was holding perfectly still while I ran the hose on her forehead to rinse it, with water streaming down her whole face.

Sigh. Let that be a lesson to you. I accepted her face-washing phobia as an idiosyncrasy, something that was just 'one of those things.' I should have realized that it was an oddity for a mare who's normally rock-solid about everything, and known that it would only take a tiny bit of work to get her over that fear.

Oh well. At least I have a horse with a clean face now!

What little 'idiosyncrasies' do you turn a blind eye to in your horse that you could probably fix if you set your mind to it?

5 comments:

Misty's Mom said...

Oooooh, this is a good post! For Bronson, i really need to work on his fear of ropes. A rope lying on the ground is cause for concern, but he will now walk over it without blowing past me (now). Moving ropes? My gosh. I tied a rope to his halter so that it would drag behind him, but wouldn't get caught in his legs and stuck him in the round pen to let him figure out that it wouldn't kill him. He trotted for 30 minutes until he finally walked. At that was just one side! Definitely need to work on that...just not right now. =)

With Brig, it's standing still. I don't know if it's because he was trained Dressage and English or what, but he WILL NOT stand still for long than 25 seconds, and will nearly always walk off when you mount. Now mind, i'm used to good ol' Bronson who will stand still for 20+ minutes if i want, so this is a fairly annoying trait that i really should fix - but have never gotten around to it...

Ms.BarnBrat said...

Love your blog! I read it whenever I can (alright everyday) :)

I agree with your post completely. Although in my expereince you don't realize how much you take for granted until you work with a different/ new horse.
Something I love about my Wanda, she will literally reach down and grab the bit and put it in her mouth, seriously if you just held a bit out I bet she would walk up to it and would put it in her mouth.

New guy I'm woring with......Thank god I am tall, and patient, you just have to hold it and wait, wait, wait, ok. I'm going to start using those peppermint wipes on the bit or wrapping fruit roll-ups on it :)

Stelladorro said...

My horse pulls back every once in a while when tied - I need to work on it, but it honestly freaks me out to the point where I'm almost willing to have a trainer 'fix it' for me, along with teaching her to cross tie.

I also want to work on clipping. I can clip everything but her ears, and her ears are do-able, I just need someone to hold her head because she wiggles too much and I put clipper marks on her. I'd like to be able to do her completely by myself, because it's a pain to have to get help when you're in a time crunch to get ready for shows.

mugwump said...

What a lovely, lovely mare. It makes it easy to forgive her being gray...(yellow horses are filthy pigs too)Keep that list and read it in 25 years. Trust me on that one.

manymisadventures said...

MM - is Bronson okay with the lead rope when you lead him? It sounds like it might take some time but there's hope for him yet. And I totally understand your frustration with a horse not standing! It drives me CRAZY when they won't hold still. I usually just start with a very solid response to 'Ho,' and gradually ask them to stand longer and longer, with the release being a pat and a brief walk around.

Barn brat, Bailey was just like your guy for a long time! We used to put a little dribble of molasses on the bit so he'd take it politely. It went away when several things happened: one, it just took time. Two, we got bits that he liked better (softer french links from a plain single-jointed snaffle). Three, we got fed up and took him into the center of a round pen for a come-to-Jesus session of hard running whenever he didn't take the bit :)

Mugs, I will definitely keep this list. It cheers me up when the chips are down.

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