As of today, we now have Real Internet in Enterprise. Not hotspot, not coffee shop, but our very own Real Stuff. It involved stringing cable from a dish mounted on the house and all, but…yeah. Hello, we’re back.
It’s been a busy month here, without a lot of writing. We pretty much finished cleaning up the house in Portland for son and roommate, and now have lots of boxes to move. Meanwhile, up here in Enterprise, we’ve been painting and organizing, and are now starting to get somewhere. The house feels like home, even with loads of boxes around.
Writing hasn’t really been getting done, not until the past two mornings where I’ve dashed off 800-1000 words. I think I needed processing time and down time because the back-and-forth nonstop hustle in Portland and Enterprise was getting to me. But Miscon, and then friends coming to visit kind of gave us a break.
Dealing with Mocha has also been an ongoing challenge. She aggressively did not like the change and spent a good four weeks fighting it. Between not eating and pacing, she lost weight and condition. We had to modify Portland travel plans to come back and work with her, putting on a blanket and holding her with a rope at her manger so she’d eat her hay. While there were pigs on the place that distressed her, there’s been enough deliberate crossings-of-boundaries attempts to tell me that scared and frightened horse was now angry horse. So it’s been a long, slow progress of reestablishing training basics. Lots of groundwork–nothing fancy or showy, just lots of walk, whoa, back, pay attention to me, focus, yield, respect my space type of things. And all of it went to pieces around the pigs, who are penned next to the arena.
It all came to a head over the past week. First, Mocha was resistant with the new farrier. She’d start slipping into the old relaxed mode, and then he’d do something different and that would get her all tensed up again and resistant. A couple of times, he just reached under her neck and hugged her into him. He’s a big cowboy type, certified and works with a vet clinic. At last he thumped her in the belly. After that, I put a chain over her nose and between the two, she stood. The barn owner suggested that maybe the big line of sprinklers was bothering her so we made a pilgrimage to the sprinklers and she got a good look at the world.
She was a much quieter horse after that.
But. The next day, she pitched a huge hissy fit at the hitching rail. Now this rail is solid, a hollow iron rail set into concrete posts. I tied her up at a safe short length. She wanted to eat grass, and set about fighting the rope and trying to stretch it out. When she couldn’t do that, she started pawing and stomping at the mats, then leveraging herself around. She couldn’t whack the rail with her right hip like she really likes to do, and I wasn’t set up for this fight. She got poked in the butt with an apple picker a couple of times when she wouldn’t listen to the cue to move over. She would stand when being handled, but if I went out of sight to get something, she pitched a fit. What she needed was a long session of being tied until she remembered her training to stand quietly, but for whatever reason, that day wasn’t it. So I waited until we had a few moments of relative quiet, discussed the situation with the barn owner via text, and got clearance for what needed to happen.
Which happened the next day. I came prepared. Made sure the space was set up safely, then…tied Mocha and let her blow up. She pawed with both fores, tried to kick the post once, slammed her shoulder into the rail, screamed, and just threw a tantrum. But a very slow, careful, deliberate tantrum. That’s the thing. She never lost her head the whole time she fought that hitching rail. Never did anything to throw herself, kept her movements careful and calculated, never pulled back on the rope, just thrust her head down but very carefully not under the rail. Pushed things enough to search out possible weaknesses but not enough to hurt herself. Classic example of a trained horse having a complete and total meltdown.
Every time she calmed down slightly I’d go over and rub her head, feed her a treat, then walk away to see if she would start fighting and fussing again. I didn’t just want her to stand tied, I wanted her to stand tied when I was out of sight for a long period of time. It’s not safe otherwise and I foresee the need for her to stand tied to a horse trailer in the future. But there was more to it than that. This was one of the first lessons she was taught in her home barn. She needed to remember this fundamental lesson and grasp that even though we had changed locations long-term, the basic rules still held. I had come to realize that until she grasped that concept, we were going to have problems.
At last she quieted and I could see the change in attitude. So I put a long heavy lunge line on her and let her graze for a while, then walked her out to the sprinklers.
Things changed after that blowout. Since then, she’s been more relaxed. I can walk to the car and she’ll look for me but not fret. We’ve had several good encounters with the pigs. She’s still tense and looky in that corner, but today she startled them at one point and she realized she’d made them move and that changed her attitude. She’s had a massage treatment that she clearly enjoyed. She remembers more of her old routines though I’m still getting passive resistance at times–I’m going to be working on reinstalling manners in her for a while, it seems.
But at least things are on track. I’ve more thoughts about the move, but stuff is going to be happening for the next few days. We’ll see how it all shakes out.