Friday, April 22, 2011

Horse Ideas

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all." - Oscar Wilde

I like to think that I have good ideas. I like to think that if the world would only follow my instruction, things would go a lot more smoothly.

Ok, maybe I should add “for me” to the end of that sentence.

Anyway, sometimes when I get a good idea, the other party involved isn’t too thrilled about it.

Such was the case on Tuesday night.

It was a bit chilly outside, probably upper 50s or lower 60s, and we were all outside. I had brushed Roany Pony the night before and decided that I should probably get Scooter out of the pasture and give him some TLC too.

Now Scooter has had, for as long as I’ve had him, a sensitivity to flies. I believe his condition to be called sweet itch, or the horse version of eczema, but it usually results in fist-sized patches on his back that eventually lose the hair and look like they are disgustingly dirty. The flies collect along this patch and eventually during the summer it would begin to get kind of a scab on it. I’ve tried creams and salves and fly sprays and everything else I know to do to get him some relief, but every year it returns.

Last year I finally hit upon something that worked great. Whenever I would see him standing by the water tank during the day, I would walk out there and hose him down. It got to where this became a three or four times a week habit. Whenever he would see me out in the yard, he would stand and stare at me until I came to give him a squirt with the hose. Then he would happily walk off and roll in the dirt, giving himself a wonderful mud coating.

Apparently the mud worked better than any fly repellent I’d been using because he didn’t lose any hair on his back last summer and looked the best skin-wise since I’ve had him.

Now cleaning him up to ride was another matter, but who cares?

So on Monday night I notice that he already has a huge hairless, filthy looking patch on his back that was covered with flies. And so, debating the cool weather and the fact that he is an animal built for the outdoors, of course, I decided to go ahead and give him a bath.

I readied my soap, bucket, brushes and hose, and then tied him up to the fence just before I brought the hose over.

The appearance of the hose apparently tipped him off to my idea.

His idea was to get the heck out of there before I had a chance to give him a bath.

And so it was, with all the force a 1200 pound animal can muster, that he set himself at war with the nylon lead rope and steel pole.

He leaned back with all his weight, while I’m on the other side of the fence screaming, “Ho! Ho!” (Some people say “whoa”, but I’ve always pronounced it “ho”.)

And then this happened:

Major equipment failure.

You just haven’t lived until you’ve had a slow-mo moment with a 1200 pound horse, breaking free of his lead rope while all his weight had been focused on his hind quarters. First he kind of sat down hard, like a giant dog, and then fell over on his side with a giant groan. And then…

He popped right back up and pranced around the pen like he’d really done something great! He had his neck arched and tail up and looked like a movie star horse.

I was calling him names that were very un-Hollywood. Well, I guess that depends on what kind of movie you went to see. Let’s just say I probably broke the PG-13 rating audibly and to myself.

Horse – 1, Me – 0.

It is a rule of horse ownership that you can’t leave on a bad note. You see, if you let a 1200 pound animal get the best of you once, guess what they will try the next time? My horse is 20 years old. I’m pretty sure he has a few tricks up his sleeve that I haven’t even seen yet.

And so I had to get another rope, catch him again, prepare to outsmart him, and give him a bath.

This time, I strung the lead rope up through the halter, over the poll of his head and back down through itself before tying him up. This made in essence a “war bonnet” that would put pressure at the back of his head should he try pulling back again. I also tied the rope up to the top rail of the fence on a horizontal plane instead of the perpendicular pole he’d managed to get away from.

My work was not for naught. Heavy with confidence from his first flip over backwards, he tried it again.

He must like falling over on his rear is all I can say!

More R-rated words and thoughts and a lot of screaming “HO!!!” came out of me.

The rope slid on the horizontal cross bar this time, clamped down on itself over his head, and he stopped pulling.


Horse – 1, Me – 1.

I’ll settle for a tie any day where I’m not injured!

He finally tolerated a bath. I made him work on the lunge line a little after all his antics, just to make sure he knew I was still the boss. Then I gave him some feed to make sure he’d still love me in the morning. And then he took off across the pasture to go find the neighbor horse and tell him how he almost got the best of me this time.

Tail in the air.

A few bucks and farts to show his wildness.

Rub it in my face, why don’t ya???

You old nag!!

Sometimes I have good ideas.

Sometimes my ideas cost me a lot of work!

And a few lead ropes.

Yes, it melted.  Nice work, Scooter!


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