e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,
e_moon60
e_moon60

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Life with Horses: Monster Mac

Mac started walking sound almost as soon as he got his "booties" on with the extra-soft inserts.  He was supposed to be in confinement for a month, with the booties on, and as time passed and the weather cooled, he became more active and less cooperative--he's a Quarter Horse, but he's a QH with racing TB bloodlines as well (Three Bars, Depth Charge).   So today, the farrier came; we were going to see if Mac needed a light trim, see how he moved barefoot, and change out the inserts in his booties to regular ones.  The vet recommended putting him in wide web shoes in front, but he has so little hoof wall, and grows his hoof so slowly, that the farrier and I decided to go with the protective boots awhile longer, just with firmer inserts. 

I went out to halter him before the farrier came; he was, as he has been except for brief periods, loose in the small (40x40 foot) paddock that adjoins the barn on the south, and into which his stall (and the south half of the barn) opens.   He took one look at the halter and zipped into his stall, placing himself in a corner and pinning his ears and "snaking" his head as I approached.  He associates the halter with having to be medicated, I guess, from the early days of this lameness thing.   I had the lead rope, of course, and had a time dropping it over his neck.  I got a grip on the loop and moved him away from the corner; instead of coming quietly with me, he started circling, making threat movements.  After some very firm words, I got him out of the stall into the open half of the barn, and again tried to get the halter over his muzzle: pinned ears, "mean" eye, jerking his head around, refusing to stand still (lunging off this way and that, with me controlling his neck, at least,  and clearly threatening to nip.  I was on his off side, which wasn't ideal--I'd had to approach his off side in the stall.   The way he was acting, getting to his near side was not a good option--it might let him duck out of the neck-rope.  So I formed a loop of the lead rope and got *that* over his muzzle while he was watching  the halter, then snugged up a grip under his jaw.   You could practically see the "Oh, rats, she's got me" look; his eye softened and though I had Richard come hold the twist of ropes under his jaw, I got the halter on then without so much as a flicker of ear. 

Once the halter was on, I turned him loose again.  I don't keep halters on horses except for a few hours or in a very safe enclosed situation, as it's not safe unless it's a breakaway halter.   Also, why make life even easier for horse thieves?  He went back to eating hay.  Then the farrier's truck drove in.  At once Mac started acting like a wild thing--proving that all trace of lameness is gone, definitely.  He trotted in and out of his stall, he cantered a stride or two, he  (jumped!) over a length of utility pole that's in the south paddock to keep the horses off a French drain-in-progress, he bucked...etc.   My farrier said "Boy, HE's not lame!" and when Mac settled down just a little we took off the boots, the farrier did a little trim of the heels and a bit off the flare on his right, walked him around (he walked sound; we didn't do a trot test, not with Mr. Snorty in that mood) and then put him in the  boots with medium inserts.   He walked sound out  of that, too, and he's now allowed out into the south horse lot--about an acre--a decision that we hope will allow him to work off some excess energy. 

But then, when the Bach performance is over, I have to take time every day to work on his attitude.   This whole "I can threaten you with sour ears and mean eyes and  bared teeth, and I don't have to work if I don't want to" thing has to  disappear.   I have guests off and on; my horses need to behave around people (including of course me.)    All my other horses learned to accept being caught, haltered, led, groomed, tacked up, etc. without incident (to be honest, most of them came that way, but I was able to retrain those that had some bad habits.  Mac, compared to the others, is sulky.)

Tags: life with horses
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