Thursday, February 21, 2008
Meet One of the Herd
Well, I am bored today, so I thought I would throw in some pictures of one of our horses. This is Roan Dog. He is one of the geldings that we raised. He is one of my favorites. He has everything I look for in a horse - he is a great color, has outstanding conformation and... he is a problem child.
I love problem children. Nice horses are fun once in a while, but I love a challenge. There is nothing as satisfying as taking something that one else wants to deal with and turning them into something that everyone wants.
Roan Dog is by our old King bred stud out of a Handcock bred mare. My brother hauled the old stud up to Wyoming to breed some mares on a trade deal. Roan Dog was born and spent the first 5 months of his life in the mountains around Thermopolis, Wyoming. All of the colts that my brother brought home that fall were pretty skinny and sad looking. Their mothers were old(and I do mean old)and didn't get any extra feed. But my mom did her feeding magic and turned those shetland pony looking things into fine individuals. Anyway, my brother was working on a ranch in Nebraska, I wasn't around and my mom isn't capable (she's in her 60's)of halterbreaking the colts. They were gentle, but thats about it. They were about 3 when my brother loaded them up and took them to Nebraska to break to ride. My brother is pretty lucky that that old stud threw such easy going colts because the only one they had any problems with was Roan Dog. He bucked. Really hard!! Finally, brother noticed that this horse was pretty sensitive about his back, so he took him to an amazing vet in North Platte. Come to find out - RD's skin was attached to his muscle across his back and it hurt. So the vet surgically seperated the skin and muscle. After RD healed up, bro decided to send him to a friend of ours that was comfortable riding ranker horses. The sandhills of Nebraska can take the starch out of a horse after a couple of miles. RD came along pretty good. He still wanted to be humpy but you could ride him. Mom went to pick him up after a couple of months and boy was she hopping mad. The poor horse had raw spots all over his back and cinch area. Now in defense of the guy that was riding him, he wasn't trying to be cruel riding him in that condition, he had work to do and he was getting paid to ride the horse. So momma brought RD home and healed him up. About that time, my brother moved home and started working for some of the local ranchers. So RD went back to work. Ha... for about a week. He drilled my brother about 2 miles from the house one day. And I do mean drilled - LOL. So again, bro sent him to a friend to ride and old Roan Dog drilled that guy. They said he can really buck. Look at the size of him - yea - that would definitely leave a mark. So RD was turned out until I got home.
Now the first time I laid eyes on him - I was in love. My brother just laughed at me. When he realized I was serious about riding him, he told me I couldn't. COULDN'T?? That kind of sounded like a challenge. So I run RD in the corral and he promptly run over me getting back out. Uhhh... now this would have been a good time to back down and let it go, but - you guessed it(I have never claimed to be smart..). So I ran him back in, with a couple of other horses. That helped. I stood there and watched him for awhile. I can't remember the last time I saw a horse so scared. I wandered around the corral alittle to see what he would do. He was a master at keeping the other horses between me and him and he sure wasn't going to look at me. The only thing on his mind was leaving.
I thought about this horse a lot and I watched him constantly for the next few weeks. Now, RD may have had a little bit of a rough start, he may not have been given the time HE needed by his previous handlers, but he was never beat or abuse. I had to think about why he was so scared of people and one day as I was watching him get out of the way of another horse, it hit me... he was timid. Now this is a 15.2H, 1300lb. horse and he was being run around by the donkey. HUH?
I wished I could say that it was a quick fix, but we all know that problems like these are never a quick fix. Megan and I spent the rest of the summer following RD around the yard. When we could finally walk up to him and scratch him a little we considered it a huge leap forward. That was 2 summers ago.
Last summer, I spent the whole summer working on saddling him without him being tied. He follows Megan around like a puppy dog now and is the easiest one to catch of the whole bunch. He will not let you hold a front leg up on him though. You can pick it up and then he just kneels down. I am not fighting it. Not sure that I want to tie it up yet. Back feet are fine - I can clean and trim them. Nothing doing on the front ones.
This summer - I think it is time to ride him. Gotta fix the front feet thing though. I have 2 rules about breaking/fixing horses - 1)They must be able to be saddled without being tied. 2) You must be able to clean out and trim all four feet. It has taken 2 years to get to this point so I think applying a little pressure to test the waters won't hurt. I just don't think I will be heading to the pasture yet....