Friday, April 23, 2010


Yesterday evening a friend of mine took Sahara, a huge and beautiful warmblood, out to graze along the lane, and I rode Galahad, bareback and with the rope halter, out with them.

Gahahad got spooked by someone’s loose brindle pit bull in the parking lot at the farm. I made sure he was under control, standing and at least somewhat relaxed, then hopped off to let him graze. A lovely, peaceful evening.

As it started to get late, I asked him to sidle up to the bench so that I could get back on. It wasn’t easy—he’s still not happy about it, and he was still keeping one eye out for that dog. (A horse owner should know better than to let his dog run loose, wouldn’t you think? But apparently not.)

But once I was on his back, Sir Galahad decided that he wasn’t done grazing, thank you very much, and started to toss his head and dance when I suggested it was time to head back for the barn. Thank goodness his bad-boy behavior didn’t escalate into bucking, or I’d have come right off, I suspect. But he didn’t. And dancing, I can handle.

I would gladly have let him graze more if he had settled down nicely, but he refused. Every time I tried to head him back up onto the lane and turn him, he’d throw his head and try to pull back to the grass. I’ve developed some pretty good biceps over the last six months, and we’ve trained him with the “one-rein stop” method, so once I get his head cranked around to my boot, he will, eventually, stop and stand.

He’s pretty funny when he’s in that nose-to-boot stance, because it’s so obvious that he’s not happy about it. His eyes are wild, his lips moving, no doubt muttering every curse-word known to horses. He pulls against the halter for a while, then finally quits and holds his head there, cussing me, as I release the pressure.

We went through this several times before I realized that he wasn’t going to behave well enough to be rewarded with any more grass, and that we were going to have to head back to the barn. That was a battle all the way. Three or four slow steps forward, and then he’d throw another fit. I’d get him stopped facing the barn, finally, and we’d stand. Then three or four more steps, and another fit.

There was also that darned dog. Its owner had packed it into his truck and left, pulling the horse trailer, some time back, but Galahad wasn’t sure at all. In between tantrums he kept a close eye out for the “wolf.” So here I was, bareback (and naturally, without my helmet—we were just going to graze!) and barely in control of this spinning dervish of a 4-year old who was also jumping at every shadow and just waiting for something to leap out of the bushes at him.

After what seemed like an age, we made it back to the barn, where I could get off. Galahad finally settled down and was sweet as he could be. That darned horse.

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