Jackson is suddenly no longer a sweet little spotty weanling.
With the coming of spring he has become a snorting, strutting, prancy-dancing bundle of sassy, sexy stud colt!
And he's been driving poor little RT crazy!
Now that it stays light later after I get home from work, I've been working with Jackson a bit this week: leading, grooming (he's one big hair ball), trimming up his feet.
I had considered taking him along to pony from Pat's horse Rusty, on one of the recent KVTR rides. But we want to try it at home first. [I'm glad I didn't-- he would have been a pest.]
Last night the plan was to load him in the trailer and take a ride around the block. He's hasn't been in the trailer since last summer, and always with his mama. But it was a bit windy, and everyone got themselves all worked up just because I pulled "their baby" out of his pen, so he had all sorts of excuses to be naughty. And the trailer was in the driveway, with no fenced "safety zone" in case he might get away from me. So we stayed in the arena and tried some of the very first efforts at lunging at the walk (well, I wanted it to be at the walk). He caught on pretty quickly.
Tonight was calmer, so I pulled the trailer into the arena for loading.
I should say, the weather was calmer. Jackson was an absolute POOP!
When I went into the paddock with he and his old babysitter gelding, Jackson was busy chasing RT around, herding him like a mare with his head all snaky, trying to mount him! RT would give gentle kicks to get him to back off, but it worked only momentarily. As soon as I tried to catch either one of them, the race was on! Round and round they went, Jackson herding his "mare" to keep "her" away from me. When RT finally got tired enough to stand his ground, I haltered him and led him to an adjoining paddock, that I planned to separate him to next week anyway. Jackson was concerned enough about that to let me catch him up, and I tied him in his stall to take his blanket off and groom him a bit.
At this point, however, Misty could see neither her son nor her boyfriend, so she got all upset, which got the fillies all goofy in their pens and everyone was now worked up as much or more than last night!
Between all the running around and worrying, Jackson got himself into a little bit of a lather, and he continued to challenge me, invading my space and charging forward on the lead. We worked in the stall on him respecting me and behaving himself. When he settled enough, we walked quite appropriately down the barn aisle and out to the arena and the waiting trailer.
The approach to the trailer was hesitant yet curious. Jackson stopped for a moment, then stepped in with one forefoot, then backed down for just a moment before stepping up again. It only took a light pull to convince him to step up with the other front foot. I let him stand for a moment to check things out, then asked him to move forward again. He stepped up behind, scrambled a little with the last hoof, then was inside. He willingly walked to the front stall, where I let him stand and look around. He started to get a little startled looking,
("What the HECK am I doing in HERE?")
but responded well when I scratched his withers and talked to him. I looped the lead through the Blocker Tie Ring, asked him to move over to the front wall, and shut the partition. This was the first time he hadn't been left loose in the back (with his mama), and he started to test the limits of the stall, forward and back, side to side. By the time I shut the trailer up and started the truck, he was calling to the other horses (who encouraged him by answering back), pawing and was clearly unhappy. I got the rig moving, to give him something different (keeping his balance) to think about.
I had about a five mile loop planned, with no steep hills, only a few curves, and intersections that, if there was no traffic (there wasn't), I could slide through without coming to a full stop. Two-thirds of the way, we stopped for a few minutes at Pat's place and I opened the stall window so Jackson could see Rusty and Rambler. He was considerably less fussy now, but in a heavy sweat and had a small scrape over one eye.
He traveled the rest of the loop quietly. When we pulled back into our home arena, the other horses immediately reacted, but Jackson stayed pretty calm--
maybe relieved that he had survived to tell the tale?
I wanted him to learn to stay still until I asked him to come back, so I retrieved the end of his lead rope, but left it in the Blocker, which will give if he pulls, but I can control the tension. Jackson has always been good about respecting pressure on the rope since our early tying lessons, so he stood quietly while I opened the partition.
I came to his head, rubbed on him some, undid the lead, and asked him to step back. He was a little confused, as always before he had been allowed to turn around and exit the trailer looking where he was going. But he's a big boy now, and time to learn the grown-up horse method--it's safer to back out than the handler possibly getting caught between the horse and the trailer wall during a turn.
We would back a few steps, then stand a second, them one or two more, until his rears were at the edge of the back door. The slow backing is accompanied by the word "eeeasy," then just before he reached the step down I stop and use the word "step" to teach him the cue I want him to recognize for "you've gotten to the yawning chasm behind you, and you're going to have to trust me."
His first hoof stepped down, then bounced gingerly back in. I asked him again, and maintained just a little bit of pressure once the first hoof went out, and he followed with the other hind. I let him stand and cogitate a minute, then pushed gently on the lead again, with a hesitation and the cue "step" when it was time for his fronts to step down. When he dropped that first fore, just a little bit of reassurance kept him moving, and all of the sudden...
He was OUT!
He looked around somewhat incredulously, snuffled at Kate over the fence, then led nicely inside to get rubbed down and blanketed. I left him tied for a bit, while I started on evening chores. When I let him loose in the paddock, it was a toss-up whether he should worry about his dinner, or the fact that RT was no longer in with him (he was right next door).
I might try to do the same routine tomorrow morning, before I head to Spokane for my grandson's birthday. And again Monday some time.
Why all this focused work on hauling Jackson? Well, there's still the prospect of ponying him on trail rides. And there's that little schooling show in three weeks--it would be good for Jackson to start experiencing the big wide world.
But most importantly, next week is spring break, which will give me several days to stay home with him. Tuesday morning, I will haul him to the vet's for his "brain surgery" -- none too soon! I am not set up to keep a stud, especially a young, energetic one. As well built as he is, Jackson's breeding is nothing extraordinary, and neither parent has any kind of show record. I don't have the money or skills to help him develop a performance record of his own, so I don't consider him to be stud material. So it's time to nip this hormonal spurt in the bud [if you'll excuse the expression].
Also slated for the week home:
insulation into the tack room ceiling;
the last 100 of the trees arrived today for planting;
I need to get Maddie legged up (I have yet to get on her this year) for an adventure I'll blog about later.
Oh, and I need to get my taxes done....