"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Monday, June 3, 2013

Supa Freak

That was Lily today.

On Saturday, Charles was off from work so he walked Lily for me so I could have a day off. He did 20 minutes with her in the paddock, and I got to go to bed early that night.

On Sunday evening, it was storming with thunder and lightning, so I walked the mare in the indoor. She wanted to walk fast, but she was good about not trying to trot or act out. We did 20 minutes.

Today I tacked her up with the goal of doing a 20 minute walk in the paddock with side reins on and the saddle, so she doesn't think that every time I put the saddle on her it means she is going to get ridden. I got her ready in the stall, because the guys were busy bringing horses in and feeding, and I didn't want her in the way.

Per my request, when the horses are turned out, Lily is moved to the tiny 10x10 stall next to Katie so she has a buddy. When everyone is in, she gets to go in her regular 11x14 stall, which means she has more space to move and she stocks up less. Lily was in the 10x10 stall this afternoon.

The horses got grained as I was finishing tacking up. I let Lily have a mouthful, then quietly put her bridle on, then threaded the lunge line through the bit ring and attached it to one of the saddle billets.

We have done this a MILLION times before. I do it with her at least twice a week so we can work on bend at the walk on the lunge, and she has never EVER had a problem with it. 

I went to lead her out of the stall in this fashion, which we have also done before. She, however, decided she wanted to quickly grab one more bite of grain, which meant she had to move against the pressure of the lunge line to do it. She never made it to her feeder-for whatever reason, today the pressure of the lunge line freaked her out (like I said, we've done this a MILLION times before), resulting in her spinning away from me and against the lunge line, which freaked her out further. I instantly released the line completely, as she spun around 3 times inside the stall, somehow managing to get between me and the door, then threw a crazy bucking fit to boot. In the stall. In the 10x10 stall. 

I managed to flatten myself against the stall wall while she performed her theatrics and somehow came out of this completely unscathed. For a second there, I really thought I was a goner. In the end, Lily stood flattened against the opposite wall of the stall (which was like 5 feet away from me), shaking. Mare. I very slowly and quietly straightened out the lunge line, and led her out of the stall uneventfully. But I made sure to guide her out by gently holding the bridle.


Our session started out as something of a mess. She was UP, man. But I refused to sedate her; I wanted to go home and not have to be at the barn an extra half hour waiting for the ace to take effect. I attached the side reins to the bit and asked her to walk, and we proceeded to have a 5 minute argument of what exactly the word "walk" means.

Lily: "Oh, you mean trot!"
Me: "No, I mean walk."
Lily: "Ok! I'll JIG!"
Me: "I said walk."
Lily: "Ah! How about a side pass? I can do that!"
Me: "Lily. Walk."
Lily: Stands and looks at me cluelessly.
Me: "I said walk!"
Lily: "I knew it! TROT! Coming right up!"

I didn't really growl. But when I checked her for the 6th time (I do a half halt on the lunge line, that's it-that's how sensitive she is), she decided to fly backwards, getting stopped rudely by the lunge line attached to her saddle (another reason why I've been doing this) when she reached the end of the slack, and then throwing another little bucking fit in protest. She crow-hopped in place 3 times, then stopped. The second she stopped bucking, I immediately and firmly sent her into a walk.

She actually obeyed. 

You can literally see the whites of her eyes...
The following 15 minutes were much better, but she was still very, very up, and super skittish and hypersensitive. I'm guessing she's going into heat again. Plus it was dinner time (though this hasn't been a problem before in these after-work sessions), and it was cooler than it's been this last week.

I am really quiet during these walks on the lunge. Very quiet in my movements and my energy. It is the only thing that keeps this mare going at a walk. My voice is used only to give the commands of walk, whoa or come. I'm careful to not even flick the lunge line accidentally. But at one point I slowly reached up to scratch my head...and she tried to bolt.

So we spent the next 10 minutes with me alternately waving an arm in the air while commanding her to walk. It worked: she settled and continue to walk without so much as tossing her head, while I looked like a deranged chicken.

Someone please tell me again why it is that we don't routinely spay mares? (I know, I know: major surgery, risk of adhesions, blah blah blah) Someone needs to come up with a more risk-free way of doing this. Seriously.

After the first 20 minutes of walking, Lily had relaxed considerably and started stretching into the contact. She's still weird about side reins, but this is still better than going above the bit, which is what she used to do whenever I put side reins on her back when I first got her. 

Nose is still behind the vertical, but it's a start.
We did another 20 minutes of calmer walking (40 minutes total for this session-I wanted her to somehow get all of this excess energy out). She was still very forward in her walk, but calmer overall. Until the guys started turning the horses out. Seeing the first horse take off galloping up the big field, Lily's head and tail went up, and she tried to take off (remember this day? She was amazing. Completely unfazed by the other horses. Not so much today). I had her stop, and didn't let her move forward until she offered to walk instead of prance. We did one more circle at a walk and I called it a day before anything else happened. 

Phew. Both of us were a sweaty mess by then. I was annoyed with her for acting like a lunatic, but happy overall that she had responded to my commands during most of the workout. If she had really wanted to run around like a maniac, she totally could have, but despite being so "up", she walked during 98% of this session. Animatedly to the point of almost looking like a gaited horse at times, but she was still only walking.

Afterwards, I had her stand loose in the wash stall, her lead rope over my shoulder, and, standing 6 feet away from her, proceeded to do a Kermit the Frog desensitization. I started out raising my arms slowly and waving them slowly, and accelerating as she got used to the movements. By the end I looked exactly like this:

She threw her head up a bit initially, but by the 3rd time she was just staring at me curiously with ears pricked.

"You're a weirdo, Mom."

I had to laugh at the look on her face. I hosed her off, slapped her ice boots on both hind legs, picked her stall, gave her her AbGard (I prefer GastroGard; the AbGard syringes are huge, and the paste is harder to push), and then put her away with her alfalfa forage and T&A hay cube mush. 

I then rushed home to squeeze in a run before exhaustion set in. I wrote about that on a separate post. :)


  1. But she's so pretty when she's being a sassy pants. They are SO frustrating sometimes, but just laughing really helps get through those moments...unless your name is Griffin in which case your antics may earn you a new zip code if not corrected by end of the year.

    1. I agree! On all of it: her being pretty when she's sassy, and on on the laughing. :) It's especially frustrating when they have this history of abuse where you don't know the exact details of how bad it was, and she has these random freakout days that are completely unprovoked. I'm never 100% sure if this is her personality or if she's having flashbacks. After almost 2 years together where I've done nothing to hurt her, I'm starting to think this is just the way she is and maybe it's part of what got her into trouble with that cowboy in the first place.
      I hope Griffin gets his rear in gear soon and goes back to being his sweet mellow self.

  2. Lily is super fortunate to have you as a part of her life though. Bottom line. Not enough horse people strive to learn what their horse is trying to say through their idiotic antics. =) Lily is silly, but at least she has someone who takes note of each little thing so she's never hurting and always the best she can be. =)

    1. She's just so absolutely fantastic when she's good, which really is most of the time. I have to remind myself that when she's being a paranoid goofball. Thank you. :)

  3. Growling is fine! I Growl at the horses all the time lol!

    1. Oh I do too! It's just in her case and at that moment, it would have made her gallop. Haha..