Thursday, September 20, 2007

Growing pains, birthing pains, etc...

First I'll tell you about the people-related stuff, because I feel like it, and it does pertain to the horsey-related stuff.

Last night in the dressing room right before the kids' swimming lessons, my friend, who is due to have a c-section on Monday, announced, "Um, Andrea, we may have a problem." Weird things were going on, and with her history, weird things could mean anything... I told her I'd watch the kids while she called the doctor outside (it's LOUD in the pool). She came back in and said he wanted her to come in, just in case. Still assuming it'd be nothing, but kinda worried because my cell phone was dead, I went and got her daughter's car seat so I could take all the kids home after swimming. So the kids swam and big cool things happened (my son put his head all the way under, and my daughter graduated unscheduled to the next higher class). We left and went to McDonalds (disgusting, yes, but for some reason the kids love it) and got dinner and congratulatory McFlurries. (In retrospect, what was I thinking? Three kids high on sugar when things are uncertain about baby coming? But I still thought nothing was up.) We went to my friend's house, and as I pulled up, I could not spot her car. She wasn't home yet. Uh oh. Went in, and her husband told me it was true labor, and they were trying to stop it. We made many phone calls, he went to stay with her at the hospital, and the kids were oblivious in their McFlurry madness.

To shorten things up, there was no grand entrance of baby Ben last night, and all is well. We got home late and the kids were tired, but that's about all that came of the excitement. Things seem to be on track for meeting the wee man on Monday, as scheduled.

BUT I had to reschedule my sheep sorting work that I was going to do today. (The girls are scheduled for a romantic interlude with their respective rams). I'll be going tomorrow, which may very well mean no pre-viewing of mustangs at the adoption. I am going to do my very best to get up there Friday night, but it may not happen. In which case I may not take Tonka up on Saturday. If we're going to adopt I want to be able to watch the horses closely, not play with my boy.

Which brings us to those growing pains. You know how I've had a bad time with Tonka lately? I hadn't put two and two together until yesterday. He was being extremely disrespectful, swatting me with his tail every chance he got, and with a very tight, pissy look on his face. I finally mentally tracked the change back to that day I was trimming him. He figures he won on that day, and I'm no longer his fearless leader. We went for a ride yesterday, and it wasn't much fun but it was alright. But before and afterward, and at times during the ride, he was "flicking cigarette butts" at me, as Clinton Anderson would say. Basically NO respect. Nothing dangerous, but not okay. He worked his butt off after our ride, and FINALLY stopped and licked and chewed. But then at home when I unloaded him from the trailer we had to go through the same thing. I was very nicely brushing the dried sweat off of him and he was very rudely flicking and glaring. Work work work. I finally had to take the tiniest give, because I had to get to the bus stop to get the kids. We'll see how he is today. It only makes sense that he would try this with me, since his place in the herd has changed, and he's growing up and getting more confident. He was never one to give in easily anyway, as shown by all the bite marks he got from the older geldings, for moving only when they made him.

I kind of saw this coming, had I known what to think of it. The walking away when I went to halter him... I just thought, "Oh no, he doesn't love me anymore. I need to find some lovey-sweetums exercise to do with him to make him love me again." When really I needed to become his fearless leader again so he could be secure in my ability to lead, and thus a happy horse. I've not achieved that yet, unless soak time overnight has helped a lot. I fully expect to have a lot of work to do today, and possibly every day for a while.

Not that I don't want a loving relationship with my horse. I just want love AND respect. Because the next step up from this tail-swishing is kicking. A disrespectful horse is a dangerous horse, and a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Going back to our ride yesterday, Tonka amazed me a bit. We were walking along at the very end or our ride and suddenly he put on the brakes HARD. Glad we were just walking. I of course didn't understand why, hadn't seen a thing. What he had seen was a hole in the ground from a post that had recently been pulled. Small hole, the visible part was about 2 inches and the hole itself couldn't have been more than four inches. Chances are his foot couldn't have fit into it, but he saw it as a threat. It's really amazing how completely aware horses are. We're beings of such narrow focus, but as one trainer put it (I don't remember his name) the awareness of horses is like ripples in a pond, encompassing everything around them. I am very glad that Tonka takes care of his legs. I just can't wait for the day when he's totally at ease with things I ask him to cross, knowing that I wouldn't put him into danger, but still aware of threats such as downed barbed wire and holes. We'll get there.

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