Friday, June 3, 2011

In which both of the horses learn to be ponies...and tow vehicles!

Hana has been getting a lot of work lately, so while she's a little bit tired
(and a little bit mellow),
I decided that it was a good time to teach the mares a skill that will be useful once we return to the Renegade camp.

"Wait.  We're gonna learn something?"

Yup.  It's time for these mares to learn to be the trailer...AND to be the tow truck!

I started by riding Hana and ponying Fiddle.

Fiddle was amazingly mellow about this whole process.  When we walk, she likes to hang out in back, grabbing bites of grass as we go. 

But when we trot, she likes to trot with her head right by my knee.  I've never seen her so relaxed (probably because I'm usually behind her face instead of next to it).  Hana's medium-trot is an easy jog for Fiddle, so she just puttered along beside us with her lower lip flopping in the breeze. 

And check out the sky:  it's full of BLUENESS! 

The weather forecasters guessers are saying that our temperatures will top 70 degrees (for the first time since last October!) tomorrow--for today, I was just delighted to have dry skies and colors other than grey.
Right about here was the spot I dropped my camera...and didn't notice for quite a while.  Argh.

It was time to trade horses, so I hopped up on Fiddle and we backtracked up the hill, and...

Hooray!  I found the camera!

Hana wasn't as thrilled about being the caboose, but she figured it out pretty quickly, and better still:  Fee figured out that I am in charge of her and Hana, no matter which horse I'm riding.  Phew.  That took a little bit of convincing, but she really did get it.
...and Hana tagged along behind.
Back at the trailer: 

"We learned stuff today, didn't we?"

"Yeah.  I guess we did.  That was pretty okay."

Yes.  It was. 

Life is good.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In which a rose by any other name might act a little nicer

O, be some other name!  What's in a name?  that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet....    

Fiddle has a lot of names. 

That's pretty normal for members of our household, and I suspect it's not crazy-abnormal in a lot of other households. 

There's registered names, for example.  Hana is "MA Abdayas Aspyre", not something you want to shout across the field at dinnertime.   

That's not the worst of it:  somebody must have really got up on the grumpy side of the bed to proclaim that the pretty little new standardbred filly born to Willow Killean in 2002 was going to be registered with the USTA as "Naked Willow."   I mean, seriously?

There are also "barn names", which is the name we really DO holler out across the field at dinnertime.  "Hana" and "Fiddle" are perfectly holler-able (although it's easier to shout Feeeeee-ddle, so I usually do), and won't offend the neighbors even at top-volume.

There are variations on barn names which get used as often as the regular name.  Fiddle is called Fee, and she even answers to it.  Hana will answer if you call sweetly for "Hana-banana", especially if you use her middle name "Wannacookie."

And then there are the things we call our horses that have nothing to do with their names. 

We've called Hana "Puss" almost from the first day.  She's sweet and dainty and tidy as a kitty, and takes great pride in her personal appearance.  If she could lick her paws clean after each meal, she'd probably do it.
As for Fiddle...

She came to me with the name "Sassy."  I didn't think that suited her very well--from her (awful) behavior at first; instead,  I was tempted to call her "Angry," as if she were one of Disney's lesser-known dwarves. 

But, just as you don't name a boat "Tempest", it's not a good idea to name a horse Nasty-@ss Stubborn B*itch Mare, no matter how appropriate the name may seem.  Names like that just seem to invite bad fortune. 

Also, bad names seem to excuse bad behavior.  I rode a horse years ago who was called "Wild Man Chico," because as a youngster he was idiotically hard to control.  However, in his later years people called him "Chico-san", because he had gained wisdom and control over his emotions like a Zen master.  Did the wisdom preceed the name?  Yes, but nobody noticed it until his name got changed--they kept expecting wildness because they called him that.

In Fiddle's case, there was no escaping the name "HellMare" at first, because she really was one.  She was a biter and a kicker.  She spun, she lunged, and she planted her butt and refused to move and refused to believe that somebody my size could change the behavior of somebody her size.  

Until, day-by-day, year-after-year, with the help of almost every horse person I know, her behavior is changing. 
 A few weeks ago, I found myself referring to Fiddle as "the dragon," instead of "the HellMare".  The name has gained momentum. 

It's easy, now, to call her "the dragon" because it really suits her.  It's easy to think of her as a dragon--still potentially dangerous, still very powerful.  But...tameable. 

And ever so much fun to ride!

What are your horse's names?