Wednesday, January 13, 2010

JNJ Classy Poco Gal

October 2008

September 2009

Nickname: Squirrel

Squirrel was bought as a two year old by ranchers outside of Brewster, WA, broke to ride, then used as a ranch horse until she was 7 years old. Then she became a broodmare. She is a brown mare and her babies - ALL OF THEM - are the color of their sires. Buckskin, palomino, red dun, grullo, not a brown baby in the pack!

In the Spring of 2008, Squirrel did not get pregnant. The ranch didn't want to feed her through the winter if she wasn't producing a baby. They didn't want to mess with hauling her to the auction either. Their plan was to take her up into the hills and shoot her. This is where The Quirky Neighbor comes to the rescue.

I had just lost Heddy Weed to colic. Heddy had been rescued along with Honey. I was still upset about losing her, and The Quirky Neighbor didn't want to see a nice mare disposed of in that manner, so she loaded Squirrel and brought her to me. I don't know if The Quirky Neighbor bought her, or if she was just given away. It doesn't matter. She's mine now, papers and all.

When she arrived, she was a little thin, out of shape, mats in her mane and tail, and totally not interested in human contact. Human contact meant WORK. It took me a year, but she is finally over the whole "run to the corner and she'll come get me if she REALLY wants me" thing.

I rode Squirrel a lot less than I should have, but the rides I took were very nice. She is sound, and sane (mostly), and safe on the trails. I hauled her up to a few barrel races and just rode around, and she was amazing!

One of her quirks is that she will not stand still for mounting. She wants you to just get on and go. I should have been working with her on that, but...

Last summer, she tried to impale herself on the tie rack. She set back, then reared and lunged forward, coming down on the top of the post. (You can see it behind Honey in the picture where she's tied to the trailer)

She also is deathly afraid of ponies. They are small horse eating animals that look like a horse, but are not! At least, to Squirrel. Last May, my friend Candice came from Minnesota for a week. See, there was a HUGE, very cool 4 day barrel race a mile from the house and I suckered Candice into coming and staying and hanging out.

Candice probably thinks I'm totally lame and not as cool as I thought I was. (LOL!) Anyway, we decided to go for a ride. Candice was on Squirrel, I was on Angel. As we rode up next to the fence, a neighbor's pony came up to the fence, along with his horses, and Squirrel lost her little pea brain. First, she whipped around in the road. Candice sat and went with her. (She has a real reiner/cutter/barrel racer at home) She collected Squirrel to get control - we both saw a blind runaway coming. So Squirrel tried to buck in place. Candice has velcro butt, so THAT didn't work either.

Then Squirrel reared. Candice said "Oh HELL no!" and slid off her back, down her butt and landed on her feet. CANDICE TOTALLY NAILED THE LANDING!!!

It was quite impressive actually, since I would have either hung on and gotten squashed if Squirrel went over backward, or splatted flat on my back.

Then Squirrel took one step back. Right on the top of Candice's foot. Ever try to move when a horse is standing on your foot? It's not possible. So THEN, Candice went splat. More like just fell over, but she tried to catch herself with her hand, which of course, chewed some of the skin off.

At this point, Squirrel headed for home, which was about 300 feet away. (STUPID HORSE) I asked if Candice was ok, she said yes, and I headed back on Angel to catch Squirrel. She stood there looking at me with that "What?" expression. Candice went in to wash her hand, then came out and was going to get back on Squirrel!

I was thinkg "OMG! This girl is TOUGH!" I would have still been sitting in the middle of the road cussing a blue streak and crying like a big baby!

Squirrel was a stinker and tried bucking before Candice even got on, so she said "I'll pass. It's obviously not going to work out." So she climbed on Angel, and I rode Squirrel and we went off for a nice little ride. I KNOW Candice had to have been hurting, but she never complained. I of course, was mortified, horrified, embarrassed, and sick about it. It could have been so bad.

Candice is WAY tougher than I'll ever be!!

So after that, and the near impaling incident, I started reading where horse women were dying in freak horse-related accidents, and I lost my nerve. Squirrel pretty much got turned out.

I have noticed a "quirk" with Squirrel... if she doesn't want to do something, she'll rear. The whole pony-will-eat-me story. Another example - I noticed her back ankle was swollen, and it was covered in mud, so I needed to hose it off so I could see if she'd just take a mis-step, or if there was a cut. I turned on the hose to a gentle stream. When I picked it up, Squirrel pulled back and reared. Not high and she didn't strike, but her front came off the ground a good two feet. After trotting around me a few times, she stood still and let me hose off the leg. I found an old boo-boo, but it shouldn't have made the ankle swollen. It wasn't even bad enough to treat. Oddly enough, the swelling went down and stayed down after just one hosing. Hmm...

So about this rearing thing. It's dangerous. Before I get back on her, I'm sending her to a professional for a 30 day tune-up. I'd like to know if this is a bluff thing that she doing with Candice and me, or if this is her normal reaction to things. I also want to know if it's a personality defect, or a learned behavior. (Any thoughts on that?)

I would like to eventually breed her, but if this is a personality defect that could be passed on to her foal, I'll pass on breeding her, and sell her to someone capable of handling her properly and with full disclosure. But we're not there yet.

Squirrel is a very quick learner! I started her on the barrel pattern last spring and she picked it up very quickly. She will get ridden more this year - her life of leisure is coming to an end.


Katharine Swan said...

I'm not sure if you mean a learned behavior as in, someone taught her to rear as a trick, or as in, someone inadvertently taught her to rear because they let her get what she wanted (rider OFF) when she did. I think that's why she does it -- she's found it works.

Be very careful who you send her to. You'll need someone who is firm enough to retrain her, but not abusive, as I think with her personality, physical abuse would screw her up worse.

Just my 2 cents. ;o)

hope4more said...

Well you made me sound rather amazing...thank you....but people trust me I wasn't that great and I am sure I didn't look very graceful at all.

Hey I ride horses, I get it....never know what's going to happen. It wasn't so bad and Karen you are cooler than I ever could have imagined! I love ya to death and all your horsies too, even Squirrel.....heck she still followed me up to get fed in the pasture and everything. She is really a nice mare just has a quirk, what horse doesn't.

Nikker said...

Rearing scares the hell out of me!! Horse Girl does it when she is having a temper tantrum...I give her what for on the ground or in the saddle. She doesn't get up too far, its little bitchy bounces...and I know that its an evasive manuver on her part. I hope thats all it is with your mare! When it comes to breeding her, try contacting an owner or two of past foals and find out how they are mentally. Thats all I got for you!1 ( :

mrscravitz said...

I totally agree with Katharine...Make sure that you have the RIGHT trainer for her.