Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Play nice!

I read a post today at Equestrian Ink, about one horsewoman's discomfort with the idea of "liberty play" with your horse. You can go read about it, but the gist of her argument is that it's never a good idea to try to play with your horse as if you were another horse. Not unless you weigh a thousand pounds and wear iron shoes.In her words, "It works until it doesn't."

I was going to write a big long comment about my experience playing with my horse, but I decided to instead post my story here. After all, I have 5 followers on this blog - they might want to know!

A few years ago, the dog training pen in the front of the ranch was a turnout for the horses. It's a kind of oval shape, so trying to lunge a horse without a longline usually meant the horse would tear down one side of the fence, then stop in the corner and make you chase after them.
Frostie & Baby Snoopy in the old turnout

One day, I was in the pen with my mare, Frostie. I wanted her to run, but she just wanted to walk around and look for leaves to eat. If I had been a smart woman (key phrase here), I'd have taken a whip with me, or put her on a line. Instead, I just ran toward her, snapping the lead line, making shushing noises, and waving my hands. She ran.

Frostie in high gear

Then she stopped. Then I chased and she ran again then stopped. Then turned when I didn't ask for it, etc. Pretty soon, we're doing this weird kind of keep-away dance. I'd run, she'd run, then turn and I'd have to quickly try to turn her back. Of course, as I'm doing this, I get a little lost in the moment and don't keep track of how close our bodies are getting.

Suddenly, with one stop, she turned her butt to me and a big red flashing lightbulb went off in my head, complete with System Shutdown Honk-Honk Siren. "You're too close! You're too close! Get out! Get out!" I turned and took two steps away from her.

They weren't far enough. She planted and fired out with both hind legs. Her ears weren't back, and the rest of her body didn't say she was mad or annoyed. She just looked like she was being playful. Unfortunately, her playful kick caught me in the butt.

The good news is, I was just far enough away to only receive the very tail end of the kick, so it didn't even knock me off my feet. I did have an interesting bruise on my tush.

Frostie ran to the other side of the pen, where she stood with her head down. She could have been pleased with herself, but (if you'll allow me a little creative license) she looked quite mortified.

The other good news is, I learned a valuable lesson that day. You can play with your dog. You can play with your food. But don't play with your horse. They outweigh you.

Can I taste you?

Oh, and if you think I'd ever play with this guy, you're out of your mind.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goals for 2012

My goals for this year are much like last's: enjoy my horse and take him to a few shows.

The first one is a one-day show in Desert Hot Springs, on January 14th. It's at the Willowbrook Riding Club, if you're interested in coming.

Then my selections get large and my decisions get foggier. I don't see anything on the horizon until April, when there are two shows. Three in May, then nothing until August. So the question I have to answer is, how many shows are too much for one month? Three in May seems exhausting, to me and the Snoop-Dog. But should I try for both in April? One is the first weekend and one is the second. (I'm not counting the Del Mar Nationals, because I'm just not going to that one.)

Maybe I should plan on the first horse show in the month. That way, if something happens, I've still got the second one to try to get to, instead of planning on the second one and having something happen.

Stay tuned. Snoopy and I may change our minds.