Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Temper Tantrum

I was going to put the horses in the pasture as usual. It got down to below 10F degrees last night, so the ground froze. Then, it snowed almost an inch. They were waiting in the front corral, staring at white blanket that covered yesterday’s little blades of grass.

I followed my usual routine. First, I told them to go to their stalls, and they raced right in to stand at attention. Then, I closed the stall doors. Silk always goes out first. Siete comes back in from the pasture ahead of her mother. I try to be fair. Today, as I put on Silk’s halter, Siete had a temper tantrum.

I couldn’t believe it. My little horse was rearing and bucking and squealing in her stall. I thought she was going to hurt herself. It was really scary. For a moment, I considered taking her out first to avoid possible injuries. I knew that Silk wouldn’t mind if she wen t second. However, that would be rewarding this outrageous behavior.

What I really wanted to do most was go back into the house, crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head. Instead, I told Siete in my deepest, firmest voice to “QUIT”. I led Silk calmly to the pasture while Siete continued to buck, rear and charge around in her stall. My biggest fear was that she would try to blast through the closed door. Fortunately, she didn’t, but in the five minutes it took me to settle her mother behind the locked gate, the little horse caused a big uproar.

I decided to just approach her as I did every other day. She stuck her nose over the door and let me put on the halter. I had my clicker and my treats, so I stepped inside and began doing the lowering her head exercise. She immediately settled into it, doing what I asked. Lowering a horse’s head causes her adrenaline to slow down. I also know that a horse can’t rear with its head down. I completely focused on the task at hand. Once we were distracted by the clicker and the treats, I began to lead her out of her stall.

Other than prancing and snorting, Siete let me lead her to the gate. Suddenly, Silk charged at us, causing Siete to get excited again. I made her circle around me a couple of times and told Silk not to give me any trouble. I motioned to her to go away and she ran to the closed end of the gate. I didn’t know if I could open it without Silk trying to run out, but I took a deep breath. The worst thing would be if she charged again and I got caught between them. I always turn the horse so she faces me while I close the gate and then unclip the lead rope. Going along with the idea that I would just continue as if things were normal, I opened the gate and led Siete inside. I wished I could lunge her, but it was just too icy. Silk just stood and watched us.

Once I set her free and stepped outside, I expected mayhem. Instead, each horse found her own pile of hay and began eating.

I stood watching them and considered how it used to be when I boarded them at a stable. If I had been feeling the way I felt today, I probably wouldn’t have gone over to see the horses. I would have chosen the "going back to bed and hiding under the covers" option. Having them in my backyard means that no matter what, I am going to interact with Silk and Siete at least three or four times a day. I can’t avoid anything. And I have to admit, it makes me a stronger person.

(This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Pat H. We’ve been buddies for 32 years, and just as Siete was blowing up this morning, Pat passed away. I almost didn’t finish this post tonight, but I knew that she would have wanted me to because she wasn’t a quitter. I’m really going to miss her.)


Callie said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your long time friend.

Sounds like you persivered once again with your young mare.

detroit dog said...

Victoria, You've been having a rough few days. I suspect the girls feel it; I know it comes across in your writing. Siete is showing her youth; might her mother have charged to discipline her? The clicking seems to be important interaction for her. You are right, the girls do make you a stronger person - and force you to stay engaged when you would rather do otherwise. Animals are good for making us stay in the real world and not give in, don't you think.

I'm very sorry for you about your dear friend. My thinking is that Siete picked up on the loss and/or your friend was showing her spirit (i believe in things like that).


Cassi said...

Sorry to hear about your friend... :-(

Andrea said...

maybe Siete knew. Maybe she was trying to tell you something and didnt know how.
I honestly believe the animals we love are the window to many other worlds - real, imaginary and spiritual.
You never know.


Strawberry Lane said...

So, so sorry about your friend. Sometimes I wonder if horses are aware of things we simply cannot understand.

You were cool and Siete will remember that.

Ewa said...

Victoria, I believe there is no coincidence between Siete blowing up and your friend passing away - I believe in it.
Your post is great - thank you for ending it.

I am so sorry for your friend, so sorry...

Twinville said...

Your post was a strong message for me tonight. Thank you. I am bringing home my first horse this weekend. I considered boarding her because I do tend to be a bit lazy and figured it might be nice if I didn't always have to take care of a horse 24/7.
But I also know I probably would have been even lazier and given myself more excuses why not to drive to the boarding facility (I did the same thing when I used to do gym memberhips).
Plus we have 3 acres and my husband reminded me of the cost of boarding. sigh.

Your post reminded me how strong and responsible I am already doing my daily care of our llamas, goats dog, cat, guinea pigs, rabbit and chickens. They rely on me to feed and care for them.
Somtimes it's annoying and tiring, but it's also wonderful to have such an important purpose, isn't it?

I'm nervous and excited about having my own horse here at home, afraid of doing all the wrong things. But the lure of the possibility of creating a special bond and relationship with such a beautiful, intelligent and proud animal such as the horse, is too great.

So onward I go. And your meaningful post helped give me strength.

Thank you. So sorry about the loss of your friend.

Gecko said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your from Victoria, be strong okay? It's funny how horses seem to know things, and I agree andrea and ewa.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your long time friend.Siete could more than likely have felt some sort of vibe coming through to her from you, it is good though that you stood your ground and remained calm in the midst of her tantrum, she will remember next time that she couldn't get away with her antics. Sorry again, feel better soon.

billie said...

Victoria, I'm so sorry for your loss. As many have said, I believe Siete's behavior is connected to the passing of your dear friend. Your measured and predictable response to her is what makes you such a good horsewoman.

I had a low moment in the barn yesterday, suddenly feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of chores that normally don't phase me. The remarkable thing about owning horses is that even when you have those low moments, you push through them because you care about the animals.

They reveal our strength and determination. It's a tremendous gift, as you've said here many times.

Take good care - sending warm thoughts to you today.

Tia said...

I'm very sorry about your friends death. That is such a hard time and I am glad that you have your 2 darlings to help you get through it.


Nancy said...

You handled that just right! Kudos to you for not giving in to the tantrum.

It sounds like Pat's spirit caused a stir in the horse world when she departed! Here's to eternal friendships...

M. C. Valada said...

Sympathy, Victoria, on the loss of your friend.

Carolynn said...

Good Morning, Victoria,
Thank you for sharing yourself so generously again today. I join the others here in expressing my heartfelt sorrow at the loss of your close friend.

I also feel very strongly that Siete's behaviour was no coincidence and commend you for taking the time to calm and settle her rather than reprimand her. A gentle hand, I believe, is always the best approach.

I've certainly been feeling the pull of Spring Fever lately, and their little nibble of grass yesterday may have ignited some of that in Siete, as well.

There is one horse I lead in from the paddocks where I work part-time. I think she's one of the most beautiful creations, however, she's a powerful girl and will often act up. It's quite intimidating. I stand my ground, however, I'm still trying to figure out what it is that I'm bringing to the equation that might be causing her to behave in an agitated manner with me. She knows that my arrival at her gate means dinner is being served, however, I sense that there may be more to it than just a hungry tummy. I'm still working on it.

Blessings to you & the girls,

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. Strange that your horse exploded at the same time. Those kinds of things always make me wonder.

Morenna said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Hang in there!

albertapostcards said...

my sincere condolences on the death of your dear friend. This is a quote that I turn to each time the grief of my mother's death takes over, "One joy shatters a thousand griefs." ~ Chinese Proverb

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