Monday, November 2, 2009

Cheating Part 3

If you missed part 1 or the even more amusing part 2, well, it might be helpful if you read them.

As I said, I returned home with a horse on my mind, having totally faked that I knew what I was doing.

The next morning was my morning to have some horse time. As I was driving out of our subdivision I saw something extremely disturbing.

We live in an area where there are always deer around. We don't have a fence and I've learned to only plant what they won't eat. Which is three spindly plants. But one adjusts ones gardening expectations or moves.

The bucks have been particularly stunning this year and we've had to be particulary careful since it's hunting season. Of course you can't hunt deer in a neighborhood.

But this is the Lake and the rules are quite commonly bent by our less than stellar citizens. I saw the victim of one of those ... morons.

A buck was walking by a house with a huge gaping wound in its stomach. An entire flap of skin was hanging, exposing its guts and stomach.

Someone had shot it and missed the kill shot. It was walking around, stunned, in what had to be agony.

Let me be clear. I am NOT anti-hunting. I am anti-morons hunting. If you don't kill it then you darn well better track it and put the poor thing out of its misery. If not, I can only hope for an appropriate karmanic response from the universe.

I was a marksman in college and know the value of being able to hit a nilla wafer off a yucca cactus at 100 yards. Guns are fun, but you have to know how to hit something, for goodness sake.

We called the sheriff and to make a long story short, eventually reached the game warden. He came out to assess the deer to see if it might be able to survive such a horrific wound. Unfortunately despite our tracking (we had to eventually leave) the game warden couldn't find the buck.

During our tracking we had a chance to observe the herd. We watched how the herd surrounded the buck and seemed to serve as a circle of protection. As they moved through the trees the herd maintained a loose grouping, heading across streets first, setting the way for the injured buck.

He was not left alone.

And it struck me viscerally that this is what my horse requires of me. He requires that I be strong enough, demonstrably, to take on dogs that lunge, lions that hunt, even other horses that would threaten. And the only way I can show that is with my physical presence.

It reminds me of the way I felt when my father would place his hand on my back when I was eight or nine. I knew he'd keep me safe and that nothing could even come close to harming me.

(Never mind that he and my mom would divorce a few years later, shattering that illusion. But I digress.)

As I drove to the stable, the vision of that injured buck was in my mind. I brought Cibolo out and he was easy to catch, did not make any dives for hay while I lead him and responded with as much respect as I could ask for. I concentrated on being Annie Oakley.

(What were all those medals? Contests?
Did you know she tried to convince Teddy Roosevelt
to have a division of women sharp shooters - snipers
for the war? And he declined?)

We went straight to the arena where the sun already was making it warm. So I took off my denim jacket and realized that my act of taking it off startled him.

Something I now saw as a training opportunity.

At first I couldn't get my jacket near him.
After a few rubs, he got over that.

Then I couldn't get it over his head without him going into giraffe mode.
Slowly, slowly he lowered his head.

Then I couldn't get him to walk with it on his head (note the taunt rope).

Which we conquered after a bit.

Through all of this sort of amusing (to me, anyway) exercise I thought, you know, you just don't trust me yet. I could sense that suspicion. But I didn't coddle him, or stop what I was doing. Instead I stayed big. I thought "I'm going to be strong for you. I'm going to show you that you are fine." I helped him peek through to get through that frozen in place thing, then slowly covered his eyes until he was walking with me without being able to see at all.

After that he cooperated well throughout our arena time. I did some more ugly cantering (me being the ugly part) with a greatly reduced personal anxiety level, but still I need to work on getting my seat together. Which I suspect will require longer stretches of cantering.

But he did so well that I decided to ride him through the woods, alone. It's an area we've ridden before, but not alone. I figured I could fake it long enough to get through another 15 minutes. I pushed him through some moments, and all in all it was all good.

Then something somewhat amazing, at least to me, happened. I was brushing him off when he... dropped.

See, long ago I had this theory that when a gelding really trusts you, he'll just let it all hang out. I had a horse that would and I could do just about anything on that horse. It was Spirit. He turned out to be a biter with my daughter, but with me, he was great. Rudy ended up with him and just a year later he died from colic.

Canyon never, ever dropped.

Cibolo, relaxing, just... dropped.

He was a mess (I'll spare you the details) so I did a little... ahem... maintenance.

When I put him back in the paddock, he was darn relunctant to leave. (typical guy) No, seriously, usually he's polite but heads out to be with the horses and the hay. This time he seemed to watch me leave.

Then, after about 10 minutes I talked to the barn owner and realized I needed him to come back out so I could get him some hay in a stall (he'd missed the hay hand out that morning). All I did was walk up to him where he was grazing on some hay left overs, got his attention and pretended I had a rope which I pretend to pull.

In other words, I totally faked that I had him on a rope.

and he followed me out and into his stall, through other horses, just as if I had a rope on him.

I think Annie would have been proud.


...I just hope that buck has either passed or is healing somehow. He taught me something that I will never forget...


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

And I hope managed to breathe....unlike Annie did in that tight, suffocating corset. gah! Can you even imagine?

Wow! What an amazing experience for you and for Cibolo. He totally trusted you...not just to walk blindly with his life in your hands, but to also relax and allow you an 'Excalibur' moment. That's just awesome!

Poor buck. If noone else put it out of it's misery than I hope he passed quickly and that nature was kind to him....since humans certainly were not.
He deserves as much for teaching you a valuable lesson.

Way to go!


Paint Girl said...

What a great day you had with Cibolo! I believe that anything can turn into a training opportunity, like what you did with your denim jacket. Perfect! Keep it up, and I can't wait to hear more!
That poor deer, I am also not anti-hunting, but I do agree with you. Why leave an animal out there to suffer? Some people are just total idiots!

Veronica said...

Wow. Just wow.

Anonymous said...

Really amazing day for you and your horse - good going - I love your Annie Oakley pretend thing and how you gave your horse confidence! Sorry about the buck and hope he's out of his misery.

Michelle said...

I'm so impressed with your success with Cibolo. Too bad you weren't as lucky with the buck. Hope he didn't suffer for too long.

Grey Horse Matters said...

You and your guy sound like you had a really good day together. Glad he was so 'relaxed'. It's a shame about the deer, we have lots of hunters around here too. Some of them are just idiots. Hope the buck is okay one way or the other.

Life at Star's Rest said...

I'm so proud of you! I've been reading Mark Rashid's new book, 'Whole Heart, Whole Horse', and in it he says that there are no mistakes, just opportunities to learn. Pretty good philosophy.

My 'boys' all do that and I usually just make jokes about it. When Mio was getting his complete chiropractic checkup, our vet asked if he ever put it away! Happy, relaxed boys.

I'm so sorry about the deer. I just hope that our ewes came to a quick end and didn't suffer like that.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Interesting post. Though I'm upset about the buck, I can always appreciate it when someone takes and experience like that and can learn from it and relate it to another area of her life.

In my story about hiding behind the tree while the three horses "got to know one another", I knew I should have been whipping those other horses out of Bombay's way, but I was a guest on my neighbor's property and she was watching. I wasn't sure if she'd appreciate me smacking her horses. However, you are right in that your horse needs to know that you can protect him.

lytha said...

i tried to lead baasha tonight with just my hand on his poll and the other hand on his chin, and boy, that did not work out.

guess we'd better work on the illusion of a rope.


Breathe said...

Lisa - Excaliber! LOL

Paint Girl - It was a great day. I think Cibolo looks good in denim. :)

Veronica - Right? :)

Kate - I hope the buck is out of his misery too. Can't imagine him surviving. If I was Annie Oakley, I could have helped more.

Michelle - I hope so too. It was an amazing day with Cibolo, though.

GHM - I was glad he felt that comfortable. He's an easy going guy, for all I know he's got it hanging half the day. But that was the first time around me. :)

Carmon - Now I have a totally different vision of your herd! LOL

NM - It was upsetting about the buck, and I wished I could do more. For the record if my horses ever give you a hard time, smack 'em!

Lytha - I just emailed you an imaginary rope. :) I've got tons.