Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Attitudes

What a week this has been. No , its not over yet, but only one more day to go. This was the first full week I have worked since before the 4th of July. I am not whining, I promise, but it was a real a challenge to get back into the thick of things at the office and get my brain back into “analytical” mode. To add to the challenge, there were several celebrations and fund raisers going on in the office, and ofcourse with that... comes food…

Lots of food. Evil food , like biscuits with sausage gravy, and spaghetti with meat sauce. Yes, I walked away from all of it… every last bit! Even the most sinful of them all .. Carrot Cake.

Streamlining my food choices and maintaining will power is an ongoing challenge but I think I am getting the hang of it. Today was The Spaghetti feed school fundraiser. As good as that plate of spaghetti and garlic bread would have tasted, I just kept reminding myself how horribly I would feel after the fact. And..then? I got the HELL out of the building for lunch!! I dashed for the gym for a workout.

…Nothing like the smell of a locker room to make one lose their appetite.

By the time I was done with my workout and had just sweated out what seemed like atleast a gallon of water (do the staff at the gym have something against air conditioning?) there was no way I was going to sabotage that 45 minutes of hard work for a carb and corn syrup overload (Costco canned pasta sauce). Nope, not me…My tuna with fresh veggies would keep me satisfied and I wouldn’t have to forgo the walk of shame later that day. Many thanks to the great resources that Tamara of In the Night Farm has posted on her site, along with many of the helpful comments her followers posted. They have definitely helped me to continue to get a new attitude and stay the course in the face of spaghetti and carrot cake.

Speaking of new attitude’s ,JB has himself a new attitude these days. It has been wonderful to see my special boy transform from a tense, hyper alert Stallion to a loosey goosey , driven by the next meal gelding. His whole body looks more relaxed, almost like someone unstitched a few stitches that were too tight. Initially I I had some reservations about how much change gelding him would make as he is 7 years old but it really has been amazing. I wasn’t that concerned about how he would do with the other horse because up until he was 3, he was turned out regularly with the other horses. Eventually, his herd behavior as a stallion was just too much for the geldings to bear and I had to cease group turnout.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have slowly introduced JB back into the gelding lifestyle/ We began with shared turnout with the older two, Roman and Rebel. The first time was a little surprising. JB literally ran out to them and attacked at full speed, all teeth. He did get a hold of Rebel and poor Rebel lost some hide in the process. I think JB caught both geldings by surprise because they were quietly grazing and didn’t even look up as he approached at a gallop, ears pinned. Roman was the one to take action and promptly laid the law down with a fairly aggressive attack of his own, catching JB a couple of times with both barrels. From the sidelines, the loud “THWACK, THWACK” that could be heard was Romans hind feet catching JB in the chest. JB moved off and went on to graze, certainly feeling the wrath of Roman. Apparently JB got the message and now has the highest respect for him. Ever since then , there has been no trouble. Rebel has decided the safest place for him to be is behind Roman…

JB was turned out with these two for a solid two weeks before I felt it was time to introduce the rest of the herd. For the first few days, he completely ignored the other horses and grazed quietly at the opposite side of the pasture from the rest of the horses. Never even once tried to get in their business, which surprised me a bit. He has now begun to try to find his spot in the herd and so far he is second, Roman being first, then Rebel, then Brego , then Cassidy. Maggie is left out of the mix completely for now until her hormone levels drop off for the year. ( no need to complicate matters). Cassidy tried to challenge JB yesterday but found himself the receiver of JB’s nasty little teeth. Ooooo, that makes me so mad but they have to sort it out. Brego is rather fascinated with JB and it’s really amusing to watch him. When JB approaches or vice versa, Brego does the baby chomping thing with his mouth and the promptly pees all over himself… no joke… I imagine its just a submissive thing but he seems rather embarrassed of himself when this occurs. I can’t help but laugh! Sorry Brego.. I just can't help myself.

I truly enjoy watching the herd and the herd behavior. I have learned a lot about my horses just from watching them from a distance. It’s not uncommon to find me sitting in the pasture from time to time observing.

I would love to hear what some of you have witnessed or learned from your herd of horses? Do you find that certain breeds tend to stick together if you have a mixed breed herd? I know ours do. The Morgans stick together. Does the hierarchy change from time to time, season to season? What happens when you removed the dominant leader of the group? Tell me all about it.

Riding plans for the weekend:

This weekend in the Flathead is buzzing with activity from Heritage days, to State champ swim meets to road rallies for bikers, and since the weather will be hot, plenty of boaters looking for respite from the heat. It’s the perfect storm for brewing up a few traffic jams along with plenty of road ragers out there. As for me, I will try to avoid all of that craziness and sticking mostly close to home, with maybe a quick trip to the lake one afternoon. The weather will be hot and so I will ride early in the day. On Sunday morning, we will be hosting dressage lessons at our outdoor arena but as soon as those are wrapped up, I do plan to attend The Event, a world cup qualifier 3 day Event held at Rebecca Farms. It’s great fun with lots of vendors and an opportunity to see some of the country’s top riders and horses.


Catherine said...

Interesting Jonna. I find that Arabians stick with Arabians. I observed some in a mixed group. The QH's stayed together and the Arabs were tight. Amazing how they knew.

Also interested in JB's transformation. I have a 7yo stallion who lives year round with one of my geldings. He is incredibly mellow with other horses for his gender--very well socialized--but in the spring when his hormones are amped up a bit he bites my gelding for insubordination more than usual. The gelding does deserve it, however(pins his ears at the stallion/tries to eat his food, etc). Herd dynamics are fun to watch. I have not decided for sure if I will keep the stud intact. What made you decide for sure with JB??

Jonna said...

Hi Catherine. Thanks for sharing your observations. I decided to geld JB because I found that I was battling him for his attention and focus during training and I was losing. It was frustrating for both of us. I have had stallions as riding horses in the past but JB couldn't seem to separate his two jobs very well. The instinct was extremely strong in him.

Catherine said...

So you would say it depends entirely on the individual, when it comes to using stallions as riding horses? My stallion, Eli, was very green when I got him (a handful of rides) and he has never been bred. I had the chance to breed him this year but my dressage instructor thought I should wait until Eli is going very well under saddle. I know it is a cliche to say this, but this stud is so kind. I've taken him all around and just started on trails and he is outstanding in his attitude. Not sure if he will change once bred--do you think so? His potential "gifts," as a breeding animal is his incredible sporthorse movement and size--15'2 with cannons well over 8 inches. My instructor says his movement is excellent; he is like an Arabian warmblood. I've never wanted a stallion so this is all new to me. Lots of pressure to geld though so we'll see.

Jonna said...

Catherine- I would say in my experience it completely depends on the individual horse. I had JB as a weanling and was comlpetely gentled and was started under saddle for two years before he ever bred or even was exposed to a mare. That was my intent. I wanted to have a good handle on him before we introduced breeding and more importantly I wanted him to mature as well. He didn't breed until he was almost 5 years old. Wherever I took him as a stud, most people were shocked he was a stallion, if they ever even noticed.The first time he bred, it didn't change him much in behavior, atleast not that I noticed. I could still ride with friends who were on mares, even in season and he was well behaved. He had a one year hiatus from breeding and then bred this spring again. He was still pretty good but I definitely saw a big change. He needed to be handled with a lot stronger hand this time to keep him mindful. In the end, I love him as a gelding and really there are so many good , proven stallions out there. I just decided for me and JB , it was the right thing to do. Good luck in your decision. Your horse sounds beautiful.