Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maternal Influence

Now that Copy has been gone for two weeks, we are starting to see a change in Ace’s personality. He’s settling down! Hooray! He’s still a mouthy egotistical teenage boy but it’s easier to get him to think. He isn’t constantly worried about what his mare is doing and where she’s doing it. Or with whom.

I’ve been trying to get him out and about more, so we’ve been doing more hand grazing. The other day on my last post I noticed a weird anxious behavior. When we would first bring him out, he would take a few bites of grass then paw impatiently. If you said “Ace… just eat” he would go right back to eating. It took me a couple of times to figure out where it was coming from. He paws impatiently when he eats grain. If there is a lot of activity outside when you take him to graze, he starts the pawing out of habit. Knucklehead! He hasn’t done it the last two times I’ve brought him out. He’s beginning to be ruled by his stomach rather than his nuts. That’s a good thing.

Today when I turned him loose in the outdoor arena, instead of the usual “I’m Free!” rocketing off, he immediately started grazing. Hmmmm… imagine that. After a little while, I walked to the other end to entice him into a little exercise. He immediately began galloping big loops. What impresses me most about this is that he has natural flying lead changes. Some Saddlebreds don’t because they are bred more to trot. My grey horse doesn’t have a flying change at all. Ace has a pretty good automatic change. I was impressed.

As he got hotter, and more tightly wound, he started sticking to the gate corner so I would call him out “Acey… C’mon.” and he would come trotting down the rail, knees popping, head up and eyes bright like a show horse. He’s pretty proud of himself when you call him and as he got bolder coming down to the far end where I was standing, I realized when he was about 15 feet away that he had no plan for stopping or going around me. I gave a yelp and jumped one way, and luckily he jumped the other. Had we both jumped in the same direction it wouldn’t have worked out well. But that bright happy “Here I Come” face was worth it.

When it was time to go in, he was easy to catch. Then you have to get him thinking again which takes a few minutes. Mom uses the whapper stick as a pacifier, but I’m trying to get him weaned off of it and the corresponding nipping and neck wrestling. Just outside the gate she gave it to him and I cried “don’t give it to him, he can’t think with that thing in his mouth” as he proceeded to walk over top of me. But a swish of the longe whip got his brain engaged, and he dropped the whapper and started to act like a horse again. He’s like a puppy with a chew toy. In fact, it's pretty hard to keep things out of his mputh still. He'll eat any old weed, and I'm constantly removing the ones I know he shouldn't eat.

He deals very well with biting flies. Some Saddlebreds can’t cope at all. The horse flies and deer flies are really nasty this year. He always has at least one welt on him from being bitten when he’s out over night. I ordered him a fly sheet and its on it’s way. In the mean time, he’s getting used to having Grey’s put on. The first time I tossed it across his back he was pretty worried. But he doesn’t freak out, he just studies my face frantically as if to say “is this OK? What are you trying to do to me? What am I supposed to do?”

He’s even managing to cross tie without the whapper to chew on. He doesn’t fidget with the ropes as much and he keeps his eyes glued on me. He loves being crosstied and fussed over more than anything in the world. He studies every move I make and just soaks it all up. He’s fun to groom. His coat is so fine, and his color so deep I could just polish it like fine mahogany all day.

Copy is doing well in her new home. She was bred by A.I. at home earlier this week. We’re waiting to find out how that went. We did get a phone message informing us that she is a “damned hussy”. Hey, we warned you. She’d walk over you to get in the trailer if she thought it was going to Sex Camp. She has bonded with her old friend Wayne. He’s such a dedicated horse husband. When he goes out at 2 a.m. to change the turnout group, he has to go all the way to the back of the pasture to get Copy.

Here’s a photo of her departure.


Karen said...

Wow - Ace has GROWN!! ... I had to laugh though because my horse also paws when he eats (especially his grain). He's 3, so not sure if this is a baby thing or what? I know horses paw in the wild to get food or water, so maybe that's where it comes from?

Serena said...

Sex Camp. heh. :)