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Friday, October 16, 2009

JJ: Dani Odd

Dani came preloaded with a few odd traits, or strange phobias, to be more specific. She hated water. She thought mud puddles were death traps to be avoided at all costs and even getting close to them was hazardous. I led her down Weaver's driveway, which had some convenient ruts, tire-wide, inches deep, and twenty or thirty feet long. She'd let me lead her past them down the road but there was no way she'd let me lead her across them. I spent an hour at it and the best she did was to tiptoe up to them as close as she dared and then clear them both with one big leap. Back and forth. Over and over again. I eventually got her broken in to the point that she'd -- grudgingly -- wade into a puddle but it took a change of scenery to get her completely past her fear of wet feet. She spent some time at Jeff Wiley's place out west of town at the head of Dower Draw. Jeff's place was laid out with the horse shed on some higher ground and a low wet area between it and the main pasture. I wasn't there for the breakthrough but apparently she got tired of being left behind when Cutter and the others went splashing out to feed and got brave enough to join them. In a short time she was ignoring water and has been fine around it since, even to the point of swimming. Her other phobia was on long, thin, serpentine things on the ground. Ropes, hoses, or patched cracks in the pavement made her very nervous, as in she'd shy, dance around, and generally try to avoid going near them. Maybe she 'd had a bad experience with a snake, since she had a mild fear of anything that looked a bit like one. Maybe this was a Karmic payback for the time I dropped the chunk of hose in Mom's lap and asked her what kind of snake it was. Dani wasn't quite as bad with the hoses and such as she was with water, though She was okay when she was being led over them, just doing a short hop to clear whatever stretched in her path, but riding her on the pavement was interesting. Sometimes a black streak of patching on the asphalt meant going from forward motion to crabwise dancing and then into Fast Forward. She'd go by the patch, but sidle to keep facing it as she went, then lunge away from it when she was "safely" past. She eventually got over the worst of that, but even into her twenties sometimes got skittish over an oddly shaped branch on the ground. Bec and I were riding down Lower Valley Road on a beautiful afternoon when Dani and I were paying more attention to the scenery than the road. Dani glanced down, saw a patched crack in the pavement right by her feet, and flew six feet sideways. Bec congratulated me on staying aboard, sort of. She said she'd never seen anyone come so close to hitting the pavement and still manage to hang onto the saddle and regain their seat. I guess the idea of hitting the asphalt face first gave me wings of inspiration. TBC


Jean&Vic said...

I had an Appaloosa mare, Zimba, whose phobia was car bumpers. Just parked cars -moving ones didn't phase her a bit. She would freak and do a little sideways dance whenever we rode past a parked car. She would also try to eat any yellow flower -usually at a full gallop- and I had a few adventures while she came to a dead stop to indulge or would spontaneously leap a fence if she spotted some. Mean, evil mare -but the best trail horse I ever rode.