Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ride of the Week: The Ones That Make You Earn It

Linda: mom, wife, horse-slave. I have seven horses that keep me busy learning, growing and having great adventures. If I'm going to die, which I imagine I will someday, I prefer it be on horseback, but not until I'm old(er). I write mostly about my journey with Mustang adoption on my blog, Beautiful Mustang, but also the horse-life in general. I spend a lot of time every day contemplating deep truths about the world as I shovel wheel-barrow after wheel-barrow full of manure out of the many stalls they inhabit. I've learned a lot about myself in these quiet moments, and I've developed a strong back and weak nose.

The Ones That Make You Earn It

There are so many different kinds of horses: The Been-There-Done-That, Too-Young-to-Know-Better, Ready-and-Rearing-to-Go, Scared-to-Death, or their opposite, Broke-to-Death, Poorly-Trained, and the type I have and love, The Make-You-Earn-It.

The Make-You-Earn-It type (MYEI) may have had the best and most training possible, but when it comes to you, the new owner, they act like they don’t even know how to take a bridle and bit. They raise their head, long neck stretched about 20 feet, while you struggle on tippy-toes to get a hand on the bridge of their nose. After a great deal of sweating and swearing, you manage to get a side over one ear, but they find a way out—knocking you and the bridle you walked in with on your ****. The problem here is, with MYEIs it’s not about you training them; it’s about them training YOU!

Before you got one, you were overly confident, raised and weaned on the Been-There-Done-Thats, and the Broke-to-Deaths, but come to find out, you didn’t learn squat. You were just playing at “horse” before your MYEI came to town.

At this point in my story, substitute “you” for “me”, and you have a biography of early life with my horse, Cowboy; the horse that went through five owners in eight years, but is now on his last; the horse that lost his mama at one month and had to be bottle-fed by humans who spoiled him. Yes, Cowboy, the horse who taught me how dumb I was.

Have no doubt: I’ve loved every minute of it.

Still, to be honest, there were times I questioned my wisdom in getting an MYEI—like when I was ponying his two-year-old nephew-twin across a stream and the nephew, skidding to a stop with wobbling knees, jumped rather than walked across. Cowboy went ape-wild and twisted me around in knots, tried to bolt up the rocky ravine, making me forget, in all the confusion, I COULD let go of the colt. There I was trying to get his head around and, SNAP, the left rein broke off. (Lesson: check your gear!).

Or, the time we waded through the Snake River in spring, what must have been the thousandth time, the water was pretty high and some covered-up bush tickled him just right under his belly--he scooted out of there and started doing his best to buck me off in the shallow water. (Lesson: it’s the second buck that gets you out of the seat.)

And then all the other things: trying to pass other, slow, horses on narrow, steep trails, the early temper-tantrums when I learned, sometimes all you have available is the toe of your boot, the jumping, rather than walking across of logs and creeks. (Lesson: Sit right in your saddle and be ready for the jump).

Sometimes I envied my friends and wished I had a BTDT type.

But come to find out, I kind of like him. He keeps me on my toes trying to stay one step ahead of him, and through the years and all of our adventures and misadventures, we’ve come to know and trust each other. It’s like marriage: you might have your problems, but you wouldn’t want to trade yours for someone else’s. It’s like well-worn gloves: we fit.

I almost lost Cowboy to a misdiagnosed P3 fracture a few years ago. The day he was scheduled to be put down my husband and I let him go for one last 3 ½ legged run. That horse ran fourteen rocky acres with stops and spins and pirouettes—we were amazed—and scared silly he’d die right then and there.

After we got him caught, and haltered, and safely back to the 12x12 he’d inhabit for the next six months, we canceled his appointment with death—it wasn’t Cowboy’s and my time to be broke up. He proved he had the will to beat the odds, and I was there for him every day of his confinement to keep his head together while his coffin bone healed.

I wouldn’t have asked for one. I certainly wouldn’t have gone looking for one. I wouldn’t recommend one to anyone out horse shopping, but despite all that, I love my MYEI, and wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Linda has a beautiful post at her own blog today.  Jump on over there and take a gander, it's in celebration of Cowboy's life.


Allenspark Lodge said...

Go Cowboy! Seems to me that when you DO earn it, it's yours. Of course, he will always find another task to train you on...

Once Upon an Equine said...

Great story and experiences. I enjoyed reading about Cowboy and glad he didn't keep his appointment with death.

Rising Rainbow said...

Sounds like my kind of horse. I guess I like the challenge. Once they get broke and easy to predict, I get bored. LOL

Joanne said...

Cowboy reminds me of the tough teacher we all had back in high school. The one who challenged us, who expected more than we wanted to give, who we sometimes really didn't like, who made us earn our grades and our lessons. Cowboy reminds me of them, because they're the ones we later think of fondly. They're the ones we never forget.

Linda said...

That's true. By the time you work so hard to get somewhere with a horse like this you've definitely formed an unforgettable relationship. Sometimes, too, it's just the right horse at the right time. He was that for me.

And yes, I'm still getting "trained"-lol-by all the horses, really. And, growing older has changed me and my relationship to them as well. I don't have the "need for speed" I used to have--it's not all about heading to the nearest open field anymore. I get just as much enjoyment in the quiet moments with them.

Thanks for all the nice comments. :)

GunDiva said...

Thanks for such a great contribution to ROTW. I love Joanne's analogy, because it's so true.

Allenspark Lodge said...

What a wonderful post. MYEI's are my favorite. I just called it 'attitude', but you describe it so much better. I am also glad you still get to have Cowboy. He blatantly told you he wanted to live, and you listened. Good partner!

Linda said...

Thanks, Juanita. I believe attitude is a good way to put it as well, and probable the reason he had what it took to survive the treatment of his broken coffin bone.

The pictures Gun Diva added are all taken--Post Mortem. He was so close to be putting down (vet and disposal were scheduled) I don't have any problem calling his new life "post mortem". His prognosis was so, so poor at the time they finally discovered their error in diagnosis--he's a miracle horse. (or, a miracle farrier, I'm not sure which).

Linda said...

And for those curious, the P3 fracture was in his front left and extended from toe to coffin joint with a subtle bone shift into the coffin joint. (Front limbs support 70 percent of the weight--so they're the worst if there's a problem like this).

Rachel said...

Amazing that he escaped and went on to continue trainig you! What other way could he communicate so clearly to you - other than to romp himself silly on 14 acres to show you that he wanted to stay? Unbelievable - and so very touching!

Those MYEI types are a badge of honor! :)

T!nK said...

awww this i so cool!!!