Thursday, December 27, 2007

A lot of horse

Bar is a lot of horse. His body literally seems to hum sometimes, vibrating with so much barely contained energy you nearly bounce off him like he's got his own forcefield. Yesterday, I thought he might be too much horse for me, or maybe just for some of our barn-mates. I cried some, didn't sleep well, and then went to see him today. He is a lot of horse, but he isn't too much. And he's worth the commitment, the time, the effort, and - yes - energy I'll have to put into him to be his owner, to be his partner.

Yesterday was a lot like our early kamikaze riding experiences - definitely an extreme horse situation. I don't know why I thought the second horse we picked would be different than Lena, since we insisted on picking a similar-energied horse and she certainly gave us some frightening lessons her first three weeks. Maybe I just thought I'd be better prepared.

Not so much.

We were on our way out to the barn when Peter called to tell us Bar had gotten out and hurt himself bad enough that he might need stitches. Coming from anyone else, I would have waited until we saw the injury to call Dr. Leslie, but since Peter is pretty unflappable, I called her and had her meet us at the barn.

We're not entirely sure what happened, but he did go through his gate, possibly to check out or challenge another gelding that was being led up by his pen, and possibly because the latch on his pen wasn't very good and he popped through it and then he was out. He likes to be out - he's a bit of an escape artist - and took off to check things out and did not cooperate with initial efforts to catch him.

Peter caught him fairly easily - before Bar jumped into one of the front pastures to hang out with Doc and Taffy, but after he slipped and scraped a nice strip of skin off the front of his right rear "shin." Peter put him in a stall in the upper barn and that was pretty hard for Bar, though maybe a good lesson in and of itself. He hates stalls and had himself pretty worked up by the time we got there.

Seeing him so agitated in the stall, talking to the couple that had tried to catch him, and having no idea why he would charge his gate, I called Devon to tell her we wanted to bring him back. I give Devon a lot of credit for dealing with a semi-hysterical me on the phone and not getting exasperated.

While we were waiting for Dr. Leslie, I talked to Peter who didn't seem really all that concerned about Bar's behavior. He told us he hadn't noticed him being overly aggressive towards other horses, acting like a stallion, or being too out of control in his paddock. He also said Lena and Bar like each other a lot, which they do.

If Peter had come to us and said, "That horse can't stay here," or if I'd gotten there today and seen anything but a calm, relaxed horse in his paddock, I'd have a different attitude. But he didn't, I didn't, and I don't.

When Steve, Katie and I got to the barn this morning, Bar wasn't agitated at all - even when Steve pulled Lena out to saddle and ride her, even with another mare in the pasture galloping back and forth, whinneying back and forth with several other horses across the property.

Howie and Devon met us out there to see how things were going and see if they could help us with Bar. Howie even pulled off Bar's remaining front shoe - he lost the other yesterday - and they watched us with him, gave us pointers, checked out his paddock and watched him with Lena. They said if we did give him back, we'd have to move Lena too, because they are so obviously bonded with each other. Ha!

In the midst of yesterday's turmoil about what I wanted to do, a character in a movie we were watching said something along these lines - "In 50 years, don't you want to say you got into the car?" (Okay, yes, it was "Transformers" which seems a stretch for inspiration, but there it was.) Yes, in 50 years I want to say I put in the effort this horse deserved, that I deserved, so that no matter what the outcome, I came out a better rider and better horse owner.

I'm learning a lot. I have to be tougher with Bar than I am with Lena - at least while I learn his tricks, his mannerisms and attitudes - but the reward is that he does respond. He does want to be ridden and handled and worked, he just has to test while we learn each other, and I have to be willing and able to put that time and effort into him. I owe it to him and to myself - it's really pretty simple, though not at all easy.

And Bar didn't get stitches - Leslie cut off the flap of skin instead - but he has to walk around with a big wrap on his leg which he doesn't particularly like. It's probably a good lesson for him nonetheless. (Pictures to come, I promise.) Oh, and he has a halter wrapped around double and securing his pen gate, too. Steve said once around was probably enough, but I'm not taking any chances.

He is a lot of horse. He will never be easy. What other horse would fit so well in our wild and crazy family?

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