Monday, October 12, 2009

Setting Boundaries

Today Ace decided I had left him out in the arena too long and he wanted to go back to his stall and have lunch. So, in typical Saddlebred fashion, he started to run. Not run and scream, or test the gate, just... run. Round and round this way, round and round that way, sliding stop at the gate. He kept sweeping poor Hairy up in his wake. The hoofbeats grew louder and more insistent. I had washed William P. Grey's tail and was picking it out while he napped on the cross ties. That is, he napped until Ace got him stirred up. He became increasingly agitated, and so did I. William strained to the front of the ties, and begged with one front leg up because he wanted to get involved in the shenanigans. The peaceful grooming time was disrupted.

Ace kept coming to the gate to see if his display was having any affect on me. Yes it was... annoying little s__. There was no way I was going to reward this behavior by returning him to his stall so he could enjoy his lunch. I tied the unpicked portion of WP's tail in a knot, stuck my comb in my back pocket and unclipped a rope from the ring on the wall. Ace's expectant little face brightened. "Oh Good, she's going to give me what I want." Think again Mister.

I clipped the rope on his halter, marched him right over to the wall and tied him to a post. Then I went and got Hairy, who was more than relieved to be done with his baby-sitting job, and put him back in his stall closing the gates behind me. Ace whinnied pitifully. This was a revolting development. I went back to my tail picking since I had tied him in my direct line of sight. He tested the rope a few times, (Note to self: when engaging in a battle of wills with teenage horses, best to use the unbreakable nylon shipping halter) but finally stood and sulked. This all took about 3 minutes and Ace admitted defeat. I went back to the arena to have a word with him. He was more than happy to see me and willing to negotiate. I rubbed his right side and picked up a front hoof... easy. I moved to the rear right. He gave it easily but flung the leg around. I held on stubbornly.

Back around to the left side. He had his front hoof ready for me and that went smoothly, but the left rear was even more difficult than the right. Those draft horse people have the right idea when they strap them into stocks. In fact, local lore says one of the old time farriers once picked up a draft colt and set it across the hood of a tractor. Hmmmmm.... I faced his head, picked the hind foot up forward with my left hand, and clung to his tail with my right and held on. I won the wrestling match. I sure hope my farrier appreciates the things I go through for him

Then on to the neck and ears. I remembered Mom saying when I walked into the barn that Ace was in a stinky mood. This was becoming more and more apparent. Ace dove at the rope knot with his teeth and I got a hand on each ear. I cupped one hand lightly around the base of each ear and wiggled with him. I thought, this is a perfect passive aggressive outlet for someone who wants to out stubborn a horse just for kicks. **sigh** Ace gave in and let me rub both ears and his noggin. OK, you can go in now. I got a hold of the cheek piece of his halter, and loosened the knot with my other hand. I could tell Ace was mad but again had decided it was easier just to humor me.

He led quietly back to his stall. I finished picking the tail and put stuff away. The whole time Ace ate his grain, he pounded willfully with his front foot. I've never noticed him doing that. What a little brat he is today.


Kaede said...

When my teens do similar things I "look" at them and say "Testing..... 1...2...3....Testing.....1....2....3"
They normally laugh and stop. Pity this won't work with Ace

SmartAlex said...

Today I was ready to strangle him. I finally fished poor Hairy out of there and left Ace out alone. When I did that, he finally calmed down and finally acted like a grown up.

His bullying Hairy is only reinforcing his dominant nature. Plan for this week is to get Ace adapted to the larger paddock then put him out with the other gelding who will put him in his place. This is something that has been a long time coming.

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