I never thought I’d say this, but Kate has done me wrong. What?! How?! How could that sweet, intelligent, kind, apologetic mid-westerner do anyone wrong?!!!
Well might you ask.
It’s a PONY. She sent me a PONY.
This is not a horse. This is not a small horse. This is not even a hony. THIS IS STRAIGHT UP A PONY IN A SLIGHTLY TALLER THAN PONY DISGUISE.
Friends don’t give friends ponies.
So far, Sebastian has played such pony games with me as:
Look, I can turn all the way around in the cross ties!
I’ve never been asked to stand still before.
I’ve never been fed before and need to eat all this hay on the ground.
I’m extremely hungry and must climb back in through my stall window to get at my grain.
Thank you for putting that half pad on the saddle rack, I have kindly put it inside my feed tub in my stall.
I don’t pick my front feet up for cleaning, I only Spanish walk.
My real mother doesn’t make me stand by the mounting block.
Oh was your saddle on that rack? I put it on the ground for you.
I don’t wear a bridle at home.
IT’S SMOLL, IT’S CURIOUS, IT’S DEVIOUS, AND IT’S CUTE AS HELL.
IT’S A PONY.
In all seriousness, I’m really enjoying getting to know Li’l Sebastian. He is totally testing the limits right now while settling in — which is fine. He’s been here less than a week, there are a ton of horses he’s never met walking by him all the time, he’s in a whole new routine, oh and also it’s literally 40* cooler than it was at his last home. Also the feed thing I can kinda forgive. TrJ goes to great lengths to source incredibly high quality grass hay for us here, and it’s quite hard to get hay this nice in California, especially the bay area. I get it. Shit’s delicious.
I’ve also realized that I must give off “bully me” vibes to horses. Or at least very strong “you can play hard with this one” vibes. Murray, Flounder, Timer, Fergus, Sebastian… I’m sensing a trend in horses casually stepping all over my boundaries and not giving a fuck about it.
What Sebastian doesn’t know? I had a Murray. And if that horse taught me anything it’s… well, realistically, he taught me almost everything. I’m not going to say that Murray pulled out every trick in the book, but I learned a whole hell of a lot about handling goofy shit from that horse, and Sebastian is going to have to get really creative to one-up him.
But that’s the thing — Sebastian totally does not act like a horse who wants to one-up Murray. He doesn’t even act like a horse who really, legitimately wants to get away from me and what I’m doing to him (er, yes, I also know what that looks like because that was also Murray). The second I free him from pressure he’s like “great, what’s next weirdo?” and when I put him back in his stall, he turns around to check in with me after a bite of hay.
Sunday night we went five rounds over putting a bit in his mouth. First, Sebastian said no. (NB: he said “okay” on Thursday and “ugh, fine” on Friday soooo) Next, I worked on shaping him to put his face down into the bridle. After a bit of clicker training and a bit of negative reinforcement and tussling, I got the bit in his mouth five times, each one quicker than the last. And then I gave him a big handful of alfalfa pellets and untacked him and put him away.
Another thing I learned from Murray: it takes the time it takes.
I’m not tripping about not being able to ride on Sunday. I’m sure I’ll need to skip a few more rides over the next month or so as the crab and I revisit some basics. And that’s cool too. I’ve ridden Sebastian at Kate’s before, and he’s a solid citizen there. So I can be pretty sure that this is just the “new home, who dis?” attitude some horses get. We will be trucking along as cute as can be before we know it.