Monthly Archives: March 2024

Marker at six months together

This horse. This mystery of a horse.

Late winter and early spring have been a bit of a challenge because Mr. Boi is acting in a studly manner when he’s in turnout with the herd, and he’s been dropping his Male Appendage regularly when being handled, which is NOT good manners for a boy horse, whether intact or gelded (we have a couple of questions about how well the gelding process was–more further on). I’ve revised my mental estimate of his age to the younger side, because whether that’s true physically or not, it’s certainly true of him mentally. He acts like a seven-year-old to eight-year-old horse who hasn’t been handled consistently on the ground, and his attitude reminds me of a seventh grade boy. In other words, he can’t find his behind with both front feet, and he ranges from sweet as pie to absolute asshole, often within minutes of each other. The epitome of dorkitude. But it’s also how he’s built–even for a mostly-Arabian, he still looks to me like he needs to fill out and mature. Depending on the individual horse, that can happen from age seven to around ten. I’ve seen that degree of variance. Mocha hit physical maturity at age nine–there was one day when I looked at her and said “you’ve grown up.” But her neighbor in the stall row, Adam, a royally-bred Quarter Horse gelding from western pleasure bloodlines, didn’t hit that stage until he was ten. Which is why I’ve been cautious about distinguishing mental from physical age when talking about Marker. He reminds me a lot of Adam these days.

Under saddle, however, progress has been moving right along. We’re still a ways off with canter, at least for my purposes. Most of the time he picks up the correct lead, but it takes him a while to get into it. Eh, fixing that comes with time and he’s getting there. Arena time this summer will help a lot with that. It took a year to start getting Mocha settled into canter and it may take that long with him as well–a question of strength in part, but also just plain an issue of footing in his case. I’m introducing counterbend a lot earlier than I did with Mocha, the same for two-tracking. From the very start he’s been doing both correctly–do I think he had been trained to it previously? Not sure, but if it was, it was very lightly done. We’ve gone down the road several times and I’ve been pleased with how he handles riding out. He’s on his toes, but not the coiled spring that was Mocha, especially in spring time. He startles but listens to me, and he’s less reactive than Mocha (doesn’t hurt that he’s not yet as powerful in the front end as she was, to the end of her riding days). I can easily talk him past things that worry him–which gets to the opening line.

This horse. I’m humbled by the degree to which he demonstrates trust in me–and started doing so early on in our relationship. He showed this yesterday when we took him to the vet. He has a large divot in his neck, about the size of my palm and a couple of inches deep. The vet was amazed by it, and called several assistants to take a look at the scar. I made the rational assumption that he would be at the minimum worried about a vet visit, and at the worst freaking out, based on how reactive he is to clippers trimming his mane close to his scar.

He was worried, but that was it. Calmer in the trailer than Mocha is, with less pawing, no kicking the wall, and no screaming. He trembled in the trailer at the vet’s, but unloaded, and…immediately looked to me and hubby for reassurance. His only indication of worry was a wider flare of his nostrils. Then he would turn his head, brush a nostril against one or the other of us and…that soothed him. I walked him around and showed him several things. He followed me confidently, with only a couple of his worried honking snorts. Whenever something bothered him, he turned to us. He entered the examination area willingly, and followed me into the stocks with no fuss. Well-behaved throughout dental and sheath cleaning procedures, even though the vet felt he hadn’t had much if any work done on his teeth previously, except for the removal of wolf teeth when he was gelded. The vet cut down his canines (they were long for a horse. I have the tips, and may combine them with a chunk of Mocha’s teeth for a piece of jewelry, perhaps in combination with tail hair from both).

He stood with a minimum of fuss for a blood draw to check his testosterone status, because he’s been behaving as if there might be problems with his gelding. Or he could just be a studdy gelding. It happens. Nonetheless, we need to know if he’s throwing off excess testosterone for a horse who isn’t supposed to possess those organs. If it’s a retained testicle (worst case), then for his health it’s a good idea that we do something. The vet had a story about one case he encountered where he found a partial testicle in one gelding, then…a complete retained testicle in the abdomen. Besides being an issue for pasturing him with mares, there can be long-term implications, so…we’ll know next week.

Otherwise? It appears that I got lucky and ended up with another horse who hopefully has a low-maintenance mouth for dental work (in horses that’s an issue of uneven levels in the molars, as well as sharp points and spurs that can rub the inside of their mouth and cause ulcers there. They don’t get cavities filled, in part because horse teeth keep growing until they’re older, and they wear down because of the grinding effect from grazing). His overall health is good. And now he has all his shots on board. That’s a relief.

But most of all, he demonstrated that he trusts me, and he trusts hubby. Even though he’s only been with us for six months. Mocha has always maintained an attitude of “I trust you but I’m checking details anyway,” and it took her longer to reach that point with me. Marker is generous with his trust, it appears, and he’ll follow me just about anywhere, it seems. Which is–humbling to consider.


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