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Monday, 13 September 2010

Breakthrough

For some inexplicable reason, I am awake and writing this at midnight. I do know the reason really, of course I do. Mr O gets up for work at 6am and is therefore ready to hit the pillow by 9pm. I, on the other hand, rise from my pit at 7.30 and therefore have no need to slumber again until at least 10pm. Unfortunately Mr O thinks we should both go to bed at the same time. I have spent several nights recently tossing and turning (because I'm too hot) and unable to sleep. As I've said before, it doesn't help that loads of ideas for cards come marching into my head, demanding attention before being shoved rudely to one side.
So tonight I have given up pretending to be asleep and got up. Bear in mind that Tiny Cottage is completely open-plan and you can see that I have a slight dilemma. If I turn the light on in the sitting room, Mr O will be disturbed. Ditto television. And I can't make cards, as all that rummaging about will be far too noisy. So I am limited to reading a book or going on the computer in the kitchen, which I'm hoping is far enough away for him not to be disturbed by my nocturnal activities.
Anyway, on to other things. I am pleased to report a bit of a breakthrough on the horsey front. Most horses, at some stage, put their new owners to the test, to see if you are worthy of being their leader. It is interesting to note that Crispin did this to me in a very blatant manner (more in a mo) but Max never put me to the test, unless it was something very subtle and I missed it (and therefore, presumably, failed!)
When I first had Crispin, the 'foot and mouth' was in full swing (about seven or eight years ago). We weren't allowed to ride off the farm. Horses don't suffer from foot and mouth, but they do carry it. So we were reduced to riding in the few fields the livery yard had. I duly tacked Crispin up and took him into one of the work fields. He knew he was also allowed to graze in there from time to time and was determined he wasn't going to work in there (for horses, work and pleasure do not mix!) And so he decided to do what only a normal, well brought up sort of chap, could do. He bucked and bucked and bucked. Fortunately for me, I sat every single one of them, although the air may have turned blue from my language at the time. He put in six massive bucks in total, then stood stock still, considering the situation. I had declared, throughout, "You-will-not-do-this-to-me!" He decided I was still on and had passed the test. He never did another naughty or disobedient act in all the years I owned him.
I must repeat here, that Max never put me to the test, to the best of my knowledge. As the American's say, 'Go figure!'
Because... as you know, a couple of weeks ago, Barnaby started napping. We have owned him for nearly six years, and this horse has never napped in his life, but all of a sudden, with me as his new owner, he decides that napping is the new thing. As you may recall, after a great deal of struggling, I eventually managed to get Barnaby going the way I'd planned to go.
You have to cure napping. The name suggests it's a lazy, sleepy sort of activity, but believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. The next time I rode him I took a whip. I rode down into the village and went to turn right. Barnaby knew that if he continued to the left, it was a very quick way home and I wanted to go the long way. So he napped. Remember, we are on a road. There are car drivers wondering what to do as Barnaby starts rearing and trying to haul me along. He is massively strong and by now very determined. I know I mustn't give in. I decide not to waste time in a physical exchange because I can't possibly win. I hop off, whip him round and pull him down the road I had decided to go on. He tried to turn, he tried to stand still, he tried to trot off up the road. I made him walk. Eventually he gave in and we walked to a bench on the pavement and I used it to get back on and we continued on the ride, with lots of snorting and head tossing from Barnaby, who must have looked rather stunning, but that's not the point.
And then, to my utter disbelief, I rode out with Missis on Hugo last Thursday and Barnaby took the opportunity to nap three times. We had to pull into a gateway to let a tractor go past and Barnaby thought he may as well take the opportunity to whip round and go home, even though he was out with another horse! I couldn't believe it, used loads of leg, tapped him with the whip and made him go forwards, cheeky beggar.
But on Sunday Missis and I rode down into the village, past the pub and onto the bridleway. As we got down into the village, Barnaby tried the same trick, but this time I was ready for him, whip in my right hand, show it to him, use lots of leg and get going, and ... it worked! He suddenly gave in and I could actually feel loads of tension flow out of his back end and he visibly relaxed. After that the ride was lovely and we both really enjoyed ourselves. I was quite nervous of going along a track where Mr O always used to let him canter, as once we got there we realised how overgrown it was and could only walk. He didn't stress over it or try to take off with me or anything. He went beautifully through the ford and up the steep hill in a cracking canter and pulled up instantly, and home we sailed. I think I have passed the test. I hope he finds me always worthy of his trust. I promise never to let you down, my beautiful boy. I think it is hard enough to earn the trust and respect of any horse, but Barnaby is the herd leader. He has other horses who depend on him. So for him to come to me and say, "I will place my trust you, I will submit to you," is a big thing.
Also, I am delighted to say, the great big gash under his chin has healed up. I have had to ride him without a noseband on and feel that may have something to do with the napping, but it's back on, thankfully.
And, to my surprise, he is doing quite well in his flatwork, so I have decided to enter him in the next dressage competition. Mr O has got the day off and is taking Zak. It should be a giggle, if nothing else.
Well, it's 1am. I think I may go and try a little snooze...
Mrs O.

2 comments:

  1. Hate it when I can't sleep....

    Interesting how horses do test us. I, unfortunately, am no longer as young as I used to be, nor as confident, so I do try to avoid the confrontations. But you are right, sometimes, the horse just has to learn that you are herd leader and he will be fine under your control.

    Glad Barnaby has come around to your way of thinking. Hope it sticks.

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  2. I usually sneek downstairs and have a cup of tea and something to eat if I can't sleep, getting on the computer is deadly as I'd be there for hours! Sounds like you and Barnaby are reaching an agreement keep up the good work.

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