Well, while Oz’s first ponying lesson went well, the second did not.
It became clear pretty soon that Chance has decided he didn’t like Oz so close to him. He didn’t do anything “bad”, but he would make a face and Oz would stop and refuse to lead up. Well, you can’t pony a statue! I did keep trying and by some loss of attention on my part, the lead rope found its way under Chance’s tail! Chance tossed his head and gave a tiny crow hop. I looked back and saw the rope under his tail and realized I was in trouble.
To Chance’s credit, he really only did tiny crow hops and I thought I’d have no trouble riding it out. I was really determined to stay on, as Oz had managed to get over on the left side of Chance (I had dropped his lead rope in the hope it would come loose from Chance’s tail). I knew if I fell off it would right in front of Oz. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t seem to stay on and did fall off to the left side, right in front of Oz. I have to give a lot of credit to him. He didn’t actually step on me at all, he did hit me with his feet as I had not even finished falling before he was on me. He hit the parts that were still in the air, my arms and back, and did hit the inside of my left hip a glancing blow. Nothing serious, thankfully!
When I got up I realized why I hadn’t been able to stay on. The end of the lead rope had found its way to the crook of my left elbow, and literally pulled me out of the saddle, giving me a big rope burn in the process.
I landed on my left hip, on ground as hard as concrete, so the hip got the double whammy. It was a great test of my bone density! And it turned out to be good, nothing broken. At 65 I consider myself to be very lucky.
Now that I’m all better, it’s on to Plan B. Since Chance has said no to the job, I’m going to try my Paint mare, Lucy, as the pony. She’s friends with Oz, and they get loose every night together. They come to my door as the sun is coming up and let me know it’s feed time and they know where I live. I’m hoping it works out. But it will have to wait until the weather is cooler and the giant horse flies (immune to repellent) are gone.
Though I am not planning on riding Oz until he’s four, there is lots to do to get him ready. The weather was nice this morning and I finally had the motivation to clean out my horse trailer tack room. Oz was a big helper! He and Chance were very interested, but Oz was right there watching the whole thing and checking out everything I had put outside. Since he was handy, I took the opportunity to put a saddle pad on him. He couldn’t have cared less, so I went a step further and put one of my English saddles on him – no girth. He just stood there and certainly didn’t care about the saddle. I like to do unexpected things, as it builds a lot of trust. After the saddle was off, I put a big tarp, folded in quarters on him. He didn’t care. Pushed it by putting the tarp on his head and neck. Left space for him to see and though he was not totally relaxed, he did stand there and wasn’t upset. All of this was without a halter or a lead rope.
He has grown so much the last few months! His butt is about 15:3. He’s a laid back boy, with a stubborn streak. He was gelded on April 11, and refused to stand still after he was given drugs to knock him out. He just kept walking in a circle around me and I could not stop him! Took 3 shots to get him down. The castration took about 20 minutes and he slept another half hour after that. Tough boy. Also, when he is scavenging any potential leftover grain at feeding time, he puts his head down and avoids being caught. Once he’s convinced he hasn’t missed anything, he happily allows the lead rope to be tossed over his neck, or even just follows me to the gate to go back in. I like that he has a stubborn streak. I also like that he will squeeze through the gate to get out – I foresee no issues with the starting gate.
And though many will find this a little out there – he seems to have decided not to answer to “Baby” which is what I used to call him. I have been trying to break that habit, as I don’t want to be calling him Baby when he’s 5! To my surprise I noticed about a week ago that he no longer responds to Baby. I was calling him and he didn’t even look at me. When I called him “Oz” he looked right at me and came over. Is he smart enough to realize he is not a baby and doesn’t like being infantilized? I’ll never know, but I can’t imagine why else he would stop answering to his old nickname.
I planned to do it this morning, and despite the fact that is was very humid, I did it. I had already put it off several times. Not only was it Oz’s first lesson, it was also the first time Chance (aka Money Talkin) has ever ponied a horse. I was really hoping it would go okay, as ponying is a large part of the Kikkuli Method.
First I saddled Chance and tied him to the trailer with a halter over his bridle (bitless LG Bridle). Then I tied Oz to the horse trailer with a slip knot. I untied and mounted Chance, and of course, by then Oz had turned so that he was standing blocking his lead rope. I have to say here that Chance really is such a good horse, he has proven that on the trail and now he’s proven it again. To move Oz out of the way, I asked Chance to walk into him and he did. After a couple tries we got Oz turned the right way and I grabbed the rope and pulled it free. I turned Chance left and Oz followed along behind. Hard part over!
We walked along, with Oz walking behind Chance, not what I would have preferred, and not the way it’s done at the track, but good enough. And actually, on the trail, it would be handy to have him walk behind. Chance was very good and didn’t even think about kicking or trying to avoid Oz. Oz stopped a few times, but Chance stopped quickly enough that I didn’t have to drop the rope. In fact, Chance really seemed to get what I was trying to do, and I praised him frequently. I praised Oz too, because he was very calm and relaxed and didn’t try to play with or nip Chance.
It went so well, that after about a quarter mile we were done. It was very hot and humid, even though it was only 8 in the morning, and it had gone so well, I wanted to end on a good note. I untacked Chance and turned both horses loose, praised them again, and gave them a little bit of grain as a reward.