So when I was a young child, maybe 5 or 6 years old, my family and I went camping to TimberLee in Wisconsin. It was a great place and a lot of fun for families. I always came home with a toad, or salamander that I 'rescued' and loved eating the gourmet fireside meals that my Mom made, while listening to spooky tales that my Dad told my siblings and I.
One year, as I walked down a steep hill towards to lake, I noticed a beautiful white swan sitting bank side so peacefully.
The peace ended there. The next thing I knew either that Mom swan or a Dad swan came out of nowhere and started to kick my a**. A bird you say? Yes, a swan. A big white, was beautiful now evil, swan. I remember trying to run backwards up the steep hill to safety while this beast of a swan, who was my size, was scratching me with it's webbed Freddy Krueger feet, holding my T-shirt with it's razor sharp beak, and beating me it's with giant dinosaur like wings. Basically a piece of poultry was trying to kill me. Yes, it happened and I have witnesses. It was a very scary moment in my life and now I am sorry to say, but I'm not overly fond of large birds and I certainly do not find swans so magical anymore. LOL!
So what in the heck does that have to do with today?
Well...today I felt that I was holding a big bay TB version of that swan. A big, flapping, spooking, trying to fly with me hanging on his lead rope. The difference? No more swan beatings for me!
Laz was feeling GOOD today which is always great news. The wind was up, the weather was cool but nice and he had TB strength pumping thru his veins. I have been teasing that Lazarus is an Appendix, because when he a good OTTB, he is a chill, relaxed, country boy of a Quarter Horse. When he's up and fiery and eyes blazing with red ringed nostrils...all TB baby. Today, apparently he wanted me to see his TB side. He is 100000% TB, and ex race horse in fact..but I just keep telling him he is an Appendix in hopes that he calms down. ;)
So, the BO "C" and I walked into the large arena after I groomed/picked feet. Her husband "J" was grading the arena with the tractor so perfect time to have a lesson on focus and respect. Great...I am sometimes SUCH a wimp and thought..oh boy. BUT thankfully, she knows me very well and told me to get my big girl pants on, lol. So we started out walking just fine, and Lazarus just had more pep in his step but nothing crazy.
No, crazy came out in FULL force in the 'scary' corners of the arena which are closer to the dirt road and neighbors side where he has unplanted my rear from his back before, and made me eat a sand sandwich. So, in just leading him, "C" had me not tolerate his big spooks that turned into a temper tantrum, by popping his rope halter and backing him up a few steps using my bear voice. Kind of like, if you are looking for something to spook at Laz, here it is. YOU NEED TO listen to ME! Keep in mind, I'm not extremely strong with a high pitched screechy voice, so I'm sure my 'aggression' is like nothing to him. However, Laz is a sensitive boy and he does respond thankfully. His personality was so all over the board. It was like he was thinking "Oh my GOD..what is that? I smell something, RUN, I say, RUN, lemme go, lemme GOOOOOOOOOO, what did you say?! Walk??What is Walk??..what does that mean again? RUN RUN RUN is all I hear, woman....MOVE!!!!"
Ok, so you get the picture. There was a good 15 minutes of me wishing to god that he would just calm down, but worked on only reprimanding when he spooked so he learned to back off of me, and I am to pop him and back him up, and then immediately resume walking calmly and quietly again. It was tough, no doubt. When I was backing up this giant boy, he was SO coiled up, he looked like he could jump over me. I thought...why am I walking into this dinosaur?! BUT..it works. He did spook and avoid me (mostly, he did step on my right foot but thankfully not hard) and after about an hour, he was waaaaaay more calm and walking around in both directions without acting so stupid. The BO "C" had me sing (sing?! I said...I can't think of ANYTHING!!! So I literally sang my ABC's and then as he responded nicely, I came up with some interesting dumb ditties) and Laz continued to walk around nicely.
I was feeling great. These are the tough lessons. The ones you really don't want to do because it's hard mentally and physically. BUT, I know now that I have another victory in my pocket and along with that, a little more knowledge for what to do when he acts like that again. As Lazarus is feeling better, he is a bit more full of himself and I can't lunge him and let him work out his sillies for fear he may hurt himself. So I have to walk, walk, walk, walk, focus him in order to 'tire' him out. After our arena lesson, we walked back to the front of the property, thru the pines trees, around in circles, down on the dirt road and he did great. A minor spook but checked himself and was rewarded with carrots. We don't mind the spook in place. That is shows that he is thinking beyond his instincts. Even a big spook is ok, but it's the spooks that turn into a rear and bolt and fight that we are not tolerating.
He is a smart boy, he just displays moments of major freak out. Some days when he feels more energetic, he seems to look for those situations to which to spook at. I want him to be a confident and thinking TB, so this is what we are working on. Maybe that will get better with him learning to trust in me more, and me being more confident. Baby steps. Steps in the right direction for sure and I am SO super lucky to have a BO that is so generous with her time and adjusts it to the day, and how different he can be. My sweet Appendix, lol...no today, he was a TRUE OTTB. In fact, we thought maybe he was really UP because maybe the grading tractor reminded him of the track? Who knows what it was, but today, he was an ex racer of 6 yrs learning to walk calmly and to not be afraid. The important part is that we ended on a really good note, and he was happy, tired and calm. I was too.
About this Blog
Meet my very 1st horse, Lazarus.
I couldn't wait for Santa anymore or ask one more time for a pony for my bday (after age 30 it got embarrassing). I took matters in my own hands and I finally decided to pick a pony that needed a new home. Laz found me as I contemplated with this idea. He was sweet yet very sassy, fresh off the track, Thoroughbred (OTTB).
Join us for our re-training, rehabbing from laminitis and testing all parts of mixed up horsemanship and partnership, and luck...