|What? I wasn't doing nuthin!!!|
As I walk from stall to stall greeting the horses I can tell it is going to be an interesting afternoon.
Lightning, especially, is in high spirits on this rainy drizzly day. He greets me with a loud nickering, demanding immediate attention. I enter his stall and give him a few scratches behind his ears. He swings his huge head up and down in pleasure. As I stand beside him and give him a few pats, he turns his head to me and starts to sniff me. He blows his warm hay scented breath into my face and tries to sneak in a nibble to my sleeve. I gently push him back and exit his stall.
I get his tack ready, prepare the grooming bay and then go back for him. He starts nickering when he sees the lead rope and automatically backs up so I can open the stall door and enter.
I clip on his lead and lead him to the grooming bay. I attach the cross ties and square him up on the rubber mats. I duck under the cross ties to get his curry comb and he steps forward off the mat.
"No, Lighting, back up".
I lean my shoulder into his chest and move him back. He immediately pivots his hindquarters off center. I walk to his rear and gently but forcefully square him up again. "Now STAY" I say, hoping dog commands work on horses.
I go back to get the curry comb. I begin to brush him when I notice he has the cross tie rope in his mouth chewing it like a piece of gum. "Lighting, NO" I take the rope out of his mouth. He looks at me, I look at him and he deliberately puts his front left hoof off the mat. "Lightning... don't you do it!" I say knowing he is up to something. He puts his hoof back on the mat. I duck under the cross ties to curry the other side. I start to brush and get to his hindquarters when I feel a shift. I look and realize he has eased forward and has both front hooves off the mat. As I walk forward he steps forward another step, but stares straight ahead as if to say, "What? I'm not doing nuthin!"
I ease him back 2 steps onto the mat. I swear he is giggling at this point. As I bend to pick his hooves, he nibbles at the cross ties again. I decide to let it go for the moment. As I get to his rear hooves, I run my hand down his leg, his signal to roll his hoof forward so I can clean his frog. As an older draft horse, he has been taught this technique to save wear and tear on his hips. His hoof remains motionless. I turn to look at him, he is looking at me, chewing his rope.
"Lightning, behave!" I say sternly. I run my hand down his leg again. This time he lifts his leg and draws it up as if to kick, but instead just wiggles it around not letting me grasp it. I look at him, he looks at me, chews his rope, puts his hoof down. I walk up and take the rope out of his mouth. I go back and run my hand down his leg, he rolls his hoof and I pick out the muck. I get all four hooves done at long last.
I prepare to tack him. He has one hoof off the mat. I say his name sternly, he puts the hoof back. I put the quilt on him, then the saddle pad. Today Lightning is outfitted in a surcingle. I put in on and notice it doesn't quite fit but I tighten the girth. Something is off. He swings his head. He stares at me. I swear he is scowling. I realize I have put a too small pony girth on him so I take it off. While I am getting the correct tack, he has walked forward as far as the cross ties will allow. Again we dance through the routine of backing up onto the mat. I finally get everything on and checked. The leader comes to get him and I assist with undoing the cross ties.
I whisper in his ear, "Be GOOD." As he walks by me he flicks me, hard, with his long tail as if to say, "What EVER" and I realize I have just worked with a horse channeling a human teenager.
All in all a good game of HORSE...