So some people make me scratch my head and say ‘What the hell.’
Ok, so almost all people make me do that, but let’s not go there. Horse people in general have a bit more common sense than other people. Because they don’t stay horse people very long if they don’t. But sometimes, there is that one you wonder how they ever get through a day. Case in point is the next story I am about to share with you.
I get a call from a woman who has a friend with a horse who has some issues and needs a retrain. I don’t know this woman. She saw me the day before at the trail challenge and asked for my card. I almost remember her. Have no idea who she is, but she is talking to me like we are related, old friends or some such. Her friend has a few spot Appy who is aggressive and has no manners and keeps going through fences and then is hard to catch. ‘Because you know how bad Appies are!’ The owner is planning on taking him to auction if something can’t be done with him.
Now, I love Appies. Always have. People keep telling me that Appies are hard headed, mean, untrainable, un catchable, not personable, standoffish, pissy, don’t like people, all this bull crap. I have no idea why poor Appies have this designation. Most people are way bigger asshats on a good day than my Appies. Mine are all large puppies who want nothing more than a belly scratch and a cookie and love to go for rides or to pull stumps as long as I pay attention to them. Hell, mine will come in the house looking for me if I forget to shut the door. Hard to catch? Hell no! I can’t get them to go away! Trying to work on the fence and they want their butt scratched and licking the back of my head until my hair looks like I got it caught in a cotton candy machine. I am flapping my arms, yelling at them, throwing horse poo. They steal my hammer and dump my bag of nails and begin masticating my hat. One shit in/on my can of Pepsi. Sigh.
Anyhow, I call the woman with the problem horse. Make arrangements to go see him. She is telling me how he is not friendly at all. Runs her over at the gate. Beat the shit out of her barrel horse. Knocked her down when she was taking feed out to the pasture. (Hint, don’t carry feed out. Throw it over the fence. Hungry horses, dogs or teenagers can be over enthusiastic.)
So I go see this poor horse. Yes, I am on the horses side before I even see him. Rarely are issues with a horse the horses fault. 85% of the time it is the owner. If you are driving a car and hit a tree, you were most likely texting, drunk or speeding right? How many times have you heard of the throttle getting stuck and steering locking up? The tree trying to commit suicide by car? Yeah, see there?
Something wrong with your horse? One of 5 things. 1) Pain issue. Your fault. Get a vet, chiropractor, whatever. Figure it out, fix pain, problem usually goes away or the horse gets retired. 2) Lack of training, yours or the horse. Your fault. Train horse, take lessons, get a horse more suited to your level of riding, get a trainer, stop confusing the poor horse. 3) Too much, too little or poor feed. Not enough exercise, kept in too small an area or lack of social interaction with other horses. Your fault again. Fix it! If you don’t know, ask someone. Ask a trainer, your vet, someone who can see your horse, your feed, the place your horse is kept, not idiots on Internet chat sites or Facebook! Get a clue people. Beware of idiots offering advice. If their horses look like crap and try to bite your face off, or they don’t have horses, or they pay someone else to care for their horse, they have had horses less time than you or less than 5 years, they are probably not an expert! I have had horses for most of my 51 years and I still research stuff and ask questions. So if they have all the answers, they are an idiot, and you are a moron for listening to them. Rant over. 4) Bad maintenance. You need to keep their feet done properly. That means the best farrier, not the cheapest. Angles all correct. Feet cleaned regularly. No fungus. Clean coats and skin. Fly control, tick control. Fly masks when needed. Shade and shelter from wind and rain. Regular interaction from you to meet their emotional needs as well. Tack that fits properly, is in clean good condition. Free of stiff spots, creaky places, rough spots, pokey jabby spots. Anything that can make them hurt or uncomfortable. If you don’t get to shower, feel dirty and itchy, your feet hurt, your pants are too tight and your bra (or tighty whiteys for you guys) is full of hay or bugs, you have been ignored by your best friend until they want you to do something for them, no coffee, you are going to be a bitch. They feel the same way! Your fault, your fault, whack upside the head! 5) The horse is a phycho, abused, or an asshole. Could be your fault, but not relevant. Also less than 15% of problem horses I see are in this category.
I get to her house, her horses are in the back yard. The first one I see is a fairly nice looking horse, but has halter rub marks on its face. Big pet peeve of mine. Don’t leave halters on your horse. No reason I can accept. She brings me to see the horse. He is a body score of about 1.8. Very thin. I can tell by looking he has been this way for a while. Why is it that when ever I see a horse like this the person tells me they rescued the horse and they used to be so much thinner and they have gained so much weight, but they have no pictures. Also she told me on the phone she had him a little over a year. Hmmmm? So she tells me if I want to get him out I can, but she won’t as she is pregnant and he has no ground manners and runs her over.
I go in with him. He comes right up to me and I scratch him all over. He is digging it. I am a Master horse scratcher, just so you know. I put a halter and lead on him. Check his feet. His teeth, his back and legs. He hasn’t been brushed in a coons age. His feet smell like cabbage, clothes left in the washer for several days wet and 2 week old broccoli. His breath is almost as bad. Smells like asparagus farts. His sheath is swollen and hot. I am not going to describe that smell, this is a family channel and just the memory makes me a bit queasy. He has a bean the size of a Buick. His teeth need floated and he has some fungus on his back. He tries to push to the gate, but I ask him to stand then lead him through just fine. His head dives for the grass as soon as his feet hit the green. I am impressed by this ‘big mean appy’ letting me poke and prod him all over. But she starts in on how I can see how he went for the grass without my permission, how he tried to push through the gate, how he stepped on her foot and pulled the hay away from her when she was trying to feed ‘her’ horse. And how he beat the crap out of ‘her’ horse when she was trying to give that horse grain.
I pick up my jaw off my chest and ask her if she gave this horse grain? Nope. He doesn’t get ridden so he doesn’t need as much feed. He doesn’t need grain. Also she has been told if she doesnt feed him he wont be so aggressive. Uh huh. Problem found. (BTW starved dead horses are rarely aggressive, but still not a good plan!) This horse is freakin hungry. He is beating up ‘her’ horse to get food. Running her over to get to the hay or running through the gate to get grass. Here is the problem. I try to explain it to her. Next thing I know. She gives me the mean Appy for a heck of a deal.
He is fat in my pasture now. Feet clean and sweet smelling. Coat shines and clean except when he rolls in the mud. (What the hell gene do white horses have that makes mud rolling imperative?) Fly wipe, grain, attention, a retrain, sheath cleaned, bean removed, teeth floated, horsey friends and Leo (new name too) is one of the sweetest horses on the property. I am going to bawl my head off when he gets a new home. This is easily a $1500 horse now, if not more for a sweet 8 year old 15.2hh ++ gelding. But because of ‘user error’ he almost went to auction. And my friends wonder why I am anti social and prefer my horses to people?