Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pretty is as Pretty Does.

Did you ever get kicked hard by a horse?  I sure have.  You might remember my mentioning my somewhat difficult mare, Biltrite Smokin Dee, usually known as Dee, and sometimes, Stinky Dee. 

Although she's a pretty girl, well-built and athletic, she earned the latter nickname by being a difficult filly, and it was she who delivered one heck of a kick to my person a few years back.
Here's a weird picture of Dee watching DeCato, taken in February.

I have the habit of hand-walking my young ones away from the pasture and their pasture-mates, onto trails.  I like the exercise, and I believe it’s good exposure and training time for horses that will eventually be traveling those trails with me on their backs.

I had taken Dee on this particular hike in Bentley Creek once before.  It involved walking through a hay field along the road, then through a spot where the field narrowed, then up a dirt road in near the woods.  It’s a pretty walk onto my neighbor’s property (with his permission).   Because we had a successful walk there before, I figured the second one would be no problem.

Dee, who might also have been called Sneaky Dee, has a way of surprising a person by seeming to be fine, calm, cool, then spazzing, out of the blue.  That is exactly what she did that night.  As we got to the narrow part of the field, the filly who seemed to be calmly walking beside me sprang straight up in the air, twisted around and nailed me hard IN THE STOMACH with one fast, back hoof.

Now, if you know what I know, horses can control their kicks to a fraction of an inch.  They can strike out and stop short of hitting, strike out and deliver a little warning blow, or they can kick hard.  Stinky Dee chose the latter.

When she hit the ground, she yanked the lead line out of my hand and took off toward home, crossing the dangerous road as she went (fortunately, there were no cars in sight). 

I was in a little bit of shock, as typically happens when something surprising happens that actually hurts you.  I was also furious.  I went storming after the mare, whom my husband had caught, when she appeared in the barn, and put in her stall.   

Uh-uh.  Nope. 

I took her back out, this time armed with a crop, and when she started her flying routine in the same spot in the field, she got a meaningful whack with that crop.  She ended up being the surprised one that time, and we managed to have a decent walk.

My stomach showed no sign of the kick until about a day and a half later, then it turned a deep purple-black, at which point I could prove to my husband that it was, indeed, a very hard kick.

Dee has settled down quite a bit as she has aged, and it’s time for me to start riding her.   I rarely think of her as Stinky Dee anymore.  But I remembered that kick tonight as I hand-walked her out of the pasture for the first time since we moved here.   I kept a good hold on her lead and didn’t give her enough line to do any airs above the ground.

She was a good girl and came along gamely.  It’s a new place, and she is more herd-attached than Starlight and Hudson, so it’s not as easy for her to march out bravely.  I was pleased with the little walk, but I won’t let that fool me the next time we go out!

Soon, I’ll be hand-driving her along the path and then riding.   I have confidence that my naughtiest mare will be a fun mount this summer, proving that she is a strong athlete under saddle!

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