Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Realization About My Boy's Catching Vice

A little over a year and a half ago, while I was still leasing My Boy, I started myself a website through freewebs.com. On that site, which I designed to share the adventures of my return to horses horses with family and friends, I kept photo albums, and started a blog.

I didn't post very often, but I loved it. I mostly shared stories about riding My Boy. Once I started reading more blogs, I got the itch to blog exclusively, considered going public, and eventually joined blogger.

The freewebs site has sat untouched since then, before tonight, I hadn't even looked at it since last year. In fact, when I logged on I had to look up my user name and password. I was reading through the old blog posts and I found this one, which I thought was rather interesting. I copied and pasted it for you below, with old photos that were not originally posted with it, just old photos of my first several months with My Boy.

Pay extra attention to the highlighted section!

"Well, this should be a long entry because I am WAY overdue in writing! No excuses really, I've just been busy at school writing report cards, etc. Now that it is dark at 4:00, I have become a weekend horse warrior. Is it gorgeous and sunny for me when the weekend rolls around? Of course not. That adds more challenges.

Paint Girl and I did get a nice ride in last Sunday. After watching a nail-biting football game, we took My Boy and Brandy out to the arena and worked on some skills. Then we took them out for a jaunt around the neighborhood (urban trail ride.) The horses were relaxed, even Brandy was calm as we passed barking dogs and mailboxes. We rounded the bend for home. All was going well until we stopped to chat with Paint Girl's neighbor while she was in the pasture with her old Arab. The old Arab always trots out to the roadside fence to see My Boy and Brandy as we go by. Brandy and My Boy both became increasingly agitated and impatient. It was getting close to feeding time. By the time we left Brandy brought out her Hydette personality and proceeded to jig and spook herself into a sweat the whole way home!

I've been enjoying the family's emails about their horses feeling the farts and bucks of the cooler season. My Boy is definitely thinking that because he only sees me once a week now, he is becoming Spirit, Wild Stallion of the West. Case in point- I tried to catch him one day a couple weeks ago. He walked away from me (typical) but then stopped. I got the halter on his nose, but as I was putting it behind his ears it got stuck in his mane (he always gets a little weird about the halter going behind his ears anyway) and he started to pull away. He turned up the speed and ended up dragging the lead to the end of my hand, his nose still in, but the halter not on. As he got to the end of the line the halter fell off. I approached him again and he moved away and I tossed the halter and lead at his hind end. He took off into a dead run along the backside of the pasture down to the front gate and the mud hole. I determinedly reapproached him there. Eyes rolling, snorting (get over it, horse!) he moved away slightly but I was able to tell him whoa, stroke him to calm him down, and tempt him with a handful of weeds, and haltered him without further issue.

Paint Girl had a not so good experience yesterday. I'd asked if she wouldn't mind blanketing My Boy due to frigid cold temps and a chance of snow. She had about half an hour to feed and do this before she had to leave for an appointment. She took the wheelbarrow of feed out, then went in to get My Boy (note, the feed is sitting there, a big temptation, outside of the pasture.) Well, feeding time at the Painted Creek can be quite the rodeo pre-show. My Boy usually gets excited and runs and bucks in delight. Fritzy usually chases Brandy and they run and buck and between the two pastures mud is flying and goats are trying not to get trampled.

There was no way My Boy was going to let Paint Girl catch him before feeding- in his brain that meant work and no dinner. So he led her on a wild bucking goose chase in the mud. Thank goodness she didn't fall! She then tried to entice him with food and trap him in his run-in shed and saw her life flash before her eyes as he spun out of there, gravel and shavings flying. Well, time was up and she had someplace else to be. Unfortunately My Boy was not caught, and got to eat his hay as a reward. Regardless, I truly appreciate Paint Girl for hassling with it in the first place.

My Boy is definitely a one-person horse. Paint Girl and her cowboy are convinced he likes me and I am one of the few people in his life (past and current) that can actually catch him. Even my horseshoer, who recognized My Boy and has shod him for his previous 3 owners, said he had to corner him in his stall once to catch him for a shoeing. Now, I won't claim that My Boy actually likes me, but I will say he at least knows me pretty well. I am the only one that has really done anything with him for the past 10 months. He knows that I am going to brush him, and that almost every time after a ride, he gets to graze for about 20 mins., and, after I put him away, he gets his treats in a bucket. So yes, I suppose he associates me with mostly positive things. He has shown me his hard-to-catch side, but it has not been a consistent problem and very small-potatoes at this point or I wouldn't be leasing him let alone consider buying him. Let's hope the pasturing, lack of attention during the week, and the winter weather won't turn him into a nightmare.

My Boy has his pros and cons. I've yet to meet a horse that is all pros, although I think there are many owners that claim they've had horses that probably come pretty close to being perfect. They are all so different. When working with mom's gelding Dusty over Thanksgiving, I noticed how how much he is constantly moving his head. He can't stop being Curious George and had to look at or be part of everything going on around him. He's the class clown! It was so different then My Boy, who is typically disinterested, calm, and unflappable.

I know sometimes I think about having a horse that is a little more willing under saddle or easier to catch.....but then how will I know if that horse will stand patiently like a statue while I groom and fuss over them? Or that horse will be basically spook free like My Boy, whether a dog rushes out of the woods barking or when a motorcycle loudly speeds up as he's 10 ft. and passing you while riding on the road (yes, that happened to us.)? Or that he steps into the trailer perfectly and willingly 99.9% of the time? There are some things I just wouldn't trade. We put a lot of trust into our horses. My Boy has yet to do anything that really scares me. Other than the time we think he got stung by a bee, freaked out, and pulled back bucking when tied to the horse trailer at the trail head. However, more than likely, My Boy will do a lot of things in our relationship that will tick me off.

I recently read that relationships should not be hard at the beginning, it should seem natural, easy, comfortable. It's once that the relationship is off the ground that the work really begins. You have to work to keep that relationship strong, despite the pros and the cons, good days and bad days. Okay, so I read that in a romance novel but I still think it can apply to horses and our relationships with them. We are always learning new things and behaviors- neither people nor horses are static."

I wrote that post on December 1, 2007. I was still leasing My Boy at the time, I had started riding/leasing him in late February of 2007, moved him to my sister's on a full-care-lease at the Painted Creek in late August 2007, and bought him at the end of December 2007.

Anyway, my point about the highlighted part. Have you figured out what I realized?

If not, I'll fill you in next time!


  1. I am not sure what you realized but I have had a few trainers that say...if you run from me, I will make you run longer and harder than you would have on your own. Does not take too long and they are easy to catch after that.I hope your realization stops this behavior that is so frustrating!

  2. wow that definately sounds frusterating to deal with! I've been lucky enough to have only had one horse that was a pain to catch. The other 3 always came to me eagerly. Heck Sally even 'looks' for the bit when I'm getting her ready for a ride!

  3. Hey Pony Girl. Thanks for the great questions. I posted some thought for you on my blog. I hope I wasnt to wordy but I was so excited to share ideas on the subject. Let me know what you think.
    p.s I rode with Buck Brennaman in April last year. It was awsome.
    christa Lynn

  4. There actually were many things that hit home for me in there where you and My Boy are concerned. The key is whether you recognize all of them, or just one or two. :)

  5. Well, the fact that he was a pill for both you and Paint Girl and then got to eat anyway might have fueled the fire. Plus, he seems to have a touch of Appytude that just makes him a tad contrary anyway. I know how that is ... Games are fun, Mom.

  6. There is definately no such thing as THE perfect horse. But its amazing how close they can come... Growing up I leased and showed a big buckskin QH gelding named for about 10 years. He was my perfect horse. I could hand gallop him bareback, we trail rode in the dark, I did many things on him that I wouldnt even consider on any other horse. He was such a clown and always getting into trouble. His one single flaw? He wouldnt lope on his right lead. Ever. Never, ever, never. Which made it hard to show him.. Lol! Well, that and he wasnt mine, nor did I have the option of buying him. But he was my horse for those 10 years. I still visit him today... He will always be my perfect horse... I am certain that I will never trust a horse like I trusted that horse.

  7. I know what I saw in the highlighted portion- the catching issue was something you added to or even created solely on your own. There are some other things I saw in that post too. Did you?

  8. Well, it'll be interesting to read your analysis of it since you have been dealing with it all year. I have a habit of "catching" my horses first with the lead around their neck so if they pull away, they're caught. Most of the horses don't test it--but my little Mustang tests everything. She's like, how caught am I? Hmmmm..and let's just say, she's given me a run for my money.

  9. Hint~ My Boy already had this vice with several owners in the 13 years before he came into my life, this was not an "easy to catch horse" that came into my care and suddenly became hard to catch. In fact, just the opposite~ he actually got much better the first 6 months I worked with him, then the issue reappeared! More details tonight....and a special announcement!

  10. Yep, I saw it. He had catching issues before, and they seemed to go away, and now have returned. I think the whole, "new" environment made him vonerable, and esier to catch. But, he got comfotable and started with his "games".

    We just bought an older horse that is impossible to catch. He has gotten better, but if he is in the big pasture, there is no way I am going to catch him. And he is a lot better after I ride him everyday.

    Oh, and something totally random, but I read the other day that if horses have random ear issues, they they might need some chiropratic work. We have a mare like that, and I am thinking about taking her.

  11. Hmmmmm...are you wanting us to notice the part where you went out to him and caught him on his terms, and with a treat??? I am thinking that you reinforced his negative behavior, but I am no horse whisperer...lol!!!

    Pleeeeeease fill us in, and I can't wait to hear what your announcement is. :)

  12. After three other owners, you have shown him you care. No wonder he likes you.


  13. Hi Ponygirl, thanks so much for your comments on my blog. I always enjoy reading them and thanks for the compliments on my "kiddos". I think they're pretty special too. :)

    So...about the catching issue. I agree with Desert Rose's comment first and foremost. Having said that, I think My Boy enjoys this little game he's created and it happens to work for him, so why change it? It is a habit with him which is up to you to break. Your terms, not his. And, with the more often you catch him, ride him whatever the problem will subside. What I mean is...frequency of use will lessen the attraction of this game for him. When you stay away for longer periods, he is more likely to be hard to catch. Does that make sense?
    An announcement huh?

  14. My mare used to like to play the same catching game, but I learned to let her come to me. I used the same techniques that Christa Lynn described in her post. Works well!

  15. I agree with Andrea. He is now comfortable in his environment and went back to his old tricks. Even his previous owner who is my really good friend, says the same thing. But remember the reason SL got rid of him, she could NEVER catch him, so you have something to be proud of, YOU can actually CATCH the pain in the spotted butt even if it takes you an hour!

  16. Just started to follow your blog. Your baby is GORGEOUS! I was raised by an Appy and before I found my QH boy, Maverick, I was adamant about having an Appy; sometimes the horse you fall in love with isn't always the horse you pictured *sigh*. But I do hope to have one again.


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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