Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When you have to win all the battles or lose the war

Snoopy is who he is. Tina likes to blame his blundering, boundary-less, intrusive, mouthy personality on me, but I think he would have been that horse no matter who raised him. After all, when he was a baby, our groom Hilde worked with him as much, if not more, than I ever did.

I love my big, black horse AND he is a pain in the ass. After six years, I've decided he can't help himself. He wants something in his mouth all the time. All. The. Time. Truly, if he were human, he'd be a chain smoker. Or maybe that guy who's always chewing gum.

So as I'm leading him, he wants to hold the lead rope in his mouth. Or the longe line. Or the reins. Or my shirt. I smack him and he stops - for five seconds. Sometimes less. I always start out being nice. I take the lead rope away from him. Next, I take the lead rope and tug him sharply. We escalate from there, until I'm either popping his nose with the rope or smacking him across the chest and backing him up across the yard.

None of it matters. He doesn't remember, and it wears me down.

For a long time, I let him hold the lead rope in his mouth when we walked. I thought it was a harmless way to keep from beating him every five seconds. It's like having a kid that tests you EVERY (FREAKING) SECOND OF EVERY (FREAKING) DAY. You start picking your battles.

This, unfortunately, was a battle I should have picked.

A few weeks ago, I was taking him back to his stall and stopped to talk to a friend. We were chatting about nothing in particular, blah, blah, blah. And then it happened. Snoopy reached down to grab the lead rope. Except he missed the rope and got my index finger.

Let's say it all together: "OOOOOOOWWWWWWWW."

There was no broken skin, nor broken bones. There was a lot of spanking, and cursing.

Here's the thing - it's been weeks and I still don't have all the feeling back in my finger. It was my own fault for 1) not paying attention while I was chatting, and 2) ever letting him hold the lead rope.

I hate being a mean mom. I have to choose ALL the battles. Do you think he'll ever grow out of his oral fixation?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keep Out! In the nicest way.

Do you ever drive by a house that has a gorgeous rose garden in the front yard, or an inviting courtyard, or even a bounce house set up for a birthday party? Do you ever pull over to the curb and wander around these strangers' property?

No. No, you don't. It's called trespassing. I don't know about you, but one of my goals in life is to stay out of jail.

So, given that most people do not even traipse across their neighbor's lawn, what is it about a ranch that invites people to come on in and look around?

The ranch where my horses are boarded does have a steady business with both horses and dogs. There are four horse trainers, riding lessons offered, doggie day care and boarding, obedience classes, etc. We want the facility to be open and inviting to the people who want to board their horses/dogs or take lessons.

But twice now, I've had to tactfully escort people from the property who had "just stopped by to look at the pretty horses." One day, there were two teenagers who were wandering through the furthest barn, petting the horses. This is the barn we affectionately call "Murderers Row." At least 5 of the 8 horses in there would love to sink their teeth into you. They're not mean - just curious. Today, it was two women with a two-year old in sandals in the first barn. This is the kindest, gentlest barn, but still - a two year old in sandals?

I gently explain that there are liability issues, apologize profusely, and show them the gate. So far, they've been very understanding about it.

But one of these days, I'm gonna snap.

"What possesses you to think you can come on private property and handle animals that don't belong to you? And when you get bitten or fall down or scratch yourself on our equipment, you probably expect us to cover your medical expenses, right?

"Get out. Get out now." (This last phrase has a subtle hint of Exorcist Voice. Watch my head spin as I say it.)

I'll try to keep it together, but will someone explain this phenomena to me? If you wouldn't let yourself into a stranger's home, why would you let yourself into a stranger's barn?

P.S. Snoopy enjoyed the visitors. They tasted like chicken.