Horsey ‘Tude. That’s what I’m sayin’. But, not the regular ‘tude. I don’t mean the horse who bucks or rears or doesn’t want to take the bit or the one who steps juuuuust slightly out of reach of the mounting block. I mean the subtle, not quite a punishable act, but irritating nonetheless Horsey Attitude. So, today we voyage into Horsey ‘Tude, Part 1.
HORSEY ‘TUDE PART 1
Now, I don’t want to assume that any of your horses show you the tude that my horses show me. And, I’m kinda miffed because all of my horses have some type of ‘shake your head and walk away’ attitude on occasion. What does this mean? Am I a bad owner? Do I pick horses with personality quirks? Do I pick horses that are exceptionally expressive? Or, am I finally becoming the little old lady who lives in the shoe?… I already know that I scare small children who wander into my yard. So is this it for me? Is the white jacket next? Or, do your horses show you similar tude?
HORSEY OFFENDER #1 (Tess, the Meanderer)
OK, here is her deal. If she is out grazing on the front pasture (free grazing in the irrigated area), and it is time to go in for dinner, she becomes deaf. Yet, incredibly, she can sense when I am near and seems to move slowly but accurately just out of my reach with the halter. She never looks at me, she never acknowledges that I am near. In fact, the only hint I get that she actually knows I exist is when she pins the near ear in pissedoffness. “I’m fine here. Please go away.”
Now, Tess is an angel in every way. She keeps the peace in the herd and all is right in the universe when she takes charge — which is always. This mare always does what I ask and is perfect in every way. Except in this way. In fact, I have to start trying to gather her at least an hour before I really want her in. I walk up from any and all directions and she puts out her “not gonna catch me” forcefield immediately. And, it works. I have to give up. She won’t come for an apple, carrot, raisin or Powerball ticket. The girl is set in her ways.
But, after an hour or thereabouts, she will lift her grassy muzzle, look over my way and say, “Hey, did you want me to come in? Because I’m ready now if you want to come over and slip that rope around my neck. Or, actually, I’ll just put myself away, if you don’t mind.” And, she does. I just wanna bite her. But, I restrain myself and let her Highness pass in front of me and saunter into the barn and then onto her pasture where her dinner awaits. She has me perfectly trained.
HORSEY OFFENDER #2 (Bodhi, the hose hater)
Bodhi is my husband’s horse. He is a huge draft cross who could not be more sweet. And because he is the sweetest horse, I cannot comprehend why he give me ‘tude. Here is his drill. Because he and Remi are such big horses, they go through a lot of water each day. So, morning and night I fill their waterer.
Uh huh. At least I try to fill their trough. Bodhi thinks it is hysterical to foil me. As I stumble out in the wee hours of the morning to feed, Bodhi is ready. He waits for me to get to his pasture and throw the hay. Now, you’d think he’d be hungry and dive right into his hay. But no, he stands by the trough just waiting for me to put the hose into it. So, I do. And, he pushes it out with his nose.
Have you ever seen a horse snigger? Well, I have. Yup, Bodhi’s ‘tude has to do with the hose and a very prominent snigger. I don’t know if he doesn’t like the taste of rubber in his water, or if it reminds him of a snake or it he just likes to watch me turn red — which I suspect is the truth — but he does this every day, twice a day. I put the hose in, he throws it out. I put the hose in, he throws it out. After about three rounds, he leaves to go eat, thank goodness. But, invariably, when I do my walk-by around noon, the hose is sitting in the dirt, just where he wants it. I look over at him and he gives me that raspy “heh-heh” of that dastardly dawg, Muttley, from those Warner Bros cartoons. I swear I can hear him…
HORSEY OFFENDER #3 (Beautiful girl, the midriff policewoman)
OK, this mare has a slight right to be uber concerned about her midline under belly. She had a very severe bug allergy when she was 2. We don’t know how it started, but once the infection set in from gnats or some type of invisible nighttime biting and flying things, it took us a long time to heal her under belly. This poor mare wore bright pink SWAT smeared on her belly for 5 months. Perhaps this is the issue. Perhaps she is scarred from those months of the wrong color fashion statement on this sorrel colored mare. Or, perhaps the other horses chided her for the inside-out skunk decorations. Dunno. But, now, at 6 years old, this mare doesn’t want ANYONE putting any colored spread or girth let’s say, anywhere near her belly.
Perhaps you know how this goes? I tie her to the trailer and start the grooming routine. All is fine. But, as we near the saddling process (and I do try to switch it up on her), she gives me that look. You know the one. “Uh, are you going to put that unsightly goo on my belly because if so, I’m going to bite you.” I always comfort her and tell her that I have no goo. She looks at me sideways and watches. As I pull the girth from the opposite side, I see her eyeing me from between her front legs. “What do you have there? If you have anything cold and pink, I’m going to bite you. I’m just warning you.”
So, I pull the girth to my side and barely attach it. BG swings her head around and says, “Let me see your hands! Show me your hands, Now!” So, I show her my hands as her girth flaps about loosely. “OK. OK, but I’m warning you, if you put any goo down there, I’m gonna bite you.” Sigh. I have to gently go through this process being ever so patient and responsive to every one of her intense horsey inquisitions. Finally, she decides that I do not have any cold, pink yukky stuff and she relaxes. OY.
This is also the mare that will tell me in no uncertain terms if the saddle doesn’t fit. There is no way anyone could miss her cues. Stevie Wonder would know she hated the saddle you just put on her. No question, this girl has saddle and goo ‘tude. But, actually, I kinda like the saddle ‘tude. At least I know what feels good on her. Oh, and for the record, she has never put tooth to flesh. But, I kinda think she would if I brought out any goo and didn’t warm it first… Is she a princess or am I her slave? The good news is that she is the most sensible trail horse I have. So, I accept her ‘tude. I’m wrapped around her little goo hating hoof!
HORSEY OFFENDER #4 (Norma, the stonewall donkey)
I think this may be universal donkey ‘tude, but I’m not sure. If Norma doesn’t want to do something, she won’t. She WON’T. There is nothing I can do, say, pull, push, tug, swat, scare, whoop or cajole her into doing if she doesn’t want to do it. She will stand there most graciously and do nothing. She won’t buck or nip or anything. She just won’t. No matter how I ask, how sweetly I suggest or how much food I have in my hand, she will not do anything until she is ready.
So, I have learned to suggest to Norma and then walk away. Basically, she is a good girl who wants to do the right thing, she just needs time to decide what the right thing for her truly would be. And, once she comes to her conclusion, she usually trots along and does what I had initially asked. But, I have to “wait for it… waaaait for it” with Norma.
Now the sad part is that she really doesn’t ultimately trust me. I don’t think, anyway. I mean, I ask her to do several things in a day and she won’t do any of them without a huge preponderance of ponder. I swear, I can call her back to her pen with a bucket of grain and the ponies will come running from far and wide. But, Norma, no way. She will sit there and ponder. After I’ve put away the ponies and everyone is settled, she’ll come running over and demand to be let into her pen. “After all, I BELONG in there! How could you shut the gate without me inside!” I suffer the attitude and the indignity of being called out by a donkey. A very beautiful and long lashed, gentle and delicate, stonewall donkey. She kills me. And, to be honest, I’d kinda like to be just like her.
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