Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Too big for his halter, AND his britches

Ace is on the verge of outgrowing his halter. The weanling one rubs in spots, but still basically fits. The yearling one is a touch too big, especially around the throat. As I was trying them on today, something I've done periodically, Ace suddenly also outgrew his britches.

He was good for quite a while. I sprayed Listerine on his tail and even though it stung a bit, all he did was clamp it. I brushed his mane, and touched his ears. He's a good boy now and then, believe it or not. Then I wanted to try the yearling halter on. I took the smaller one off, put the bigger one on. Took that off, made an adjustment. Put it back on. Decided it was too big in the throat to leave on. Took it off, and when I went to put the small one back on, we had our altercation.

Since he is very mouthy, one of his favorite games is to grab the chin strap as you are putting the halter on, and refuse to let go. I was having little luck prying it out of the iron grip of his jaws (he gets better and more determined at this all the time). We were in his stall, and he was standing against the wall and he kept getting taller and taller and was looking down sideways at me with a glint in his eye. The "Hairy Eyeball". As I struggled and fussed at him, he began to get a little shovey, and his body language said loud and clear "I'm winning this little battle, perhaps I should knock you over, tap dance on your backside and finish you off". He wasn't rearing, but he was hovering above me, and he wasn't striking, but he had a front leg poised in mid-air. He started to push me with his shoulder....

Mom (who has always got my back) said from the doorway, do you need the whapper stick? "Yup", while continuing to pry, I quietly reached behind me and grabbed the stick as she handed it to me. You see, I'm quiet around horses. Mom likes to beller her disapproval. I speak softly and carry a big stick. Well, actually it is quite short, but it's loud. Ace (still clamped on the halter) whipped his neck at me and I reached my limit. "I've had it with you, you little snot!" WHAP on the side. In shock, Ace dropped the halter and spun into the corner. Then his body language said "would you like both barrels or would one be enough?"

I take a dim view of horses turning their butt to me in the stall. It's one thing if they are afraid and defensive, then I am reassuring. But when they're mad and consider retaliation, it's time to learn the "face me" rule. WHAPWHAPWHAP on his butt. The hollow, lightweight Whapper stick makes a lovely sound. Oh, you should hear it! Ace's eyes got real big and he spun to face me. "Good boy", I reached out my hand in an offer of friendship, and he stepped forward, ears up ready to make peace. His expression clearly said "what's gotten into you?"

I tried to move him over to the wall again and get to his left side. Nuthin doin. Especially without a halter on. WHAPWHAPWHAP on his butt. Again he faced me with the shocked and innocent look. "Sorry Ace, I know you don't "get" it, but you'll figure it out pretty quick Mr. Smarty Pants." Again with the butt. It took 4 or 5 tries before he would move over to the wall again. I quickly moved to his side, put my arm over him and patted him so he knew he had finally done the right thing.

I positioned the halter and swiftly and deftly slipped it over his muzzle, as he frantically grabbed for it, and buckled it behind his ear. So... has Ace learned to behave or have I learned to put the halter on quicker ?


Pony Girl said...

Ha ha. So true! :) What a little stinker. I think he's a quick learner, though. I admire you ability to be firm when needed, and reward him when he shows the response you want!
Working with the young-uns must be hard. I haven't done it since I was a teen, and don't think I could do it now! I don't have the confidence. It's one reason I'm taking lessons....hoping to work and ride some different horses and build some skills!

asbntx said...

How fun! At least you know you have a smarty pants on your hands :) It's so fun watching him grow up on your blog!