Thursday, September 27, 2012

Commander meets his master

Why is Commandser still walking?  And not only walking, but moving with reasonable comfort on his Soft-Ride boots (and 3 grams of bute/day)?
Why, in light of these x-rays from August 20, is he still with us?


Commander was seen by the vet today. It was time for fall shots for my two and the white boys, but Helen recommended not giving Commander the vaccinations; they offered a risk of laminitis flareup, and given his isolated life he’s at little risk of falling ill to begin with. So while the others got their shots, he was spared.
He did not spare us a tantrum in return.
Helen asked to have him taken out so she could watch him walk. When he re-entered the barn, he spotted the veterinary cases and freaked out – “Needle demon! NOOOOOO!” I got the ballistic boy into his stall and he started into his patented defiant-fury stall-spinning resistance to letting Helen get near him so she could check his pulses, dragging me around to his left, then trying to duck away rightward and yank the rope out of my hands. Since this time I had the chain shank running from the off side upper ring to lower ring, under his chin and out the lower near ring, and wasn’t letting him sling his body weight into me, he couldn’t manage to do it.
Helen wasn’t having any of that nonsense. And without once raising her voice or bullying the Mighty Morgan, Helen got his escalation de-escalated in a few minutes.
How? Patience, quiet firmness, and a second lead rope. 
After Commander had hauled me around the stall a few times, Helen handed me a lead rope as we whipped past the door, and I was able between his surges to get it clipped to the off side of his halter. Helen took hold of it, we triangulated our pulls and got him halted facing the door, and then we out-stubborned him (Helen leading, me following her example).
When he tried to lunge forward or sideways, we quick stopped him before he could get any momentum going. When he stood still, wound up and stiff with outrage, we talked quietly to him and scratched his neck. When, after a minute or two, he relaxed a bit, he got a carrot. It took a few rounds of this before he gave up all defiance and accepted his fate, but then I was able to take his boots off, Helen was able to pick up his feet and check him, and I was able to reboot him, with just one person holding the ropes while he stood reasonably quietly. When we were done and I took his halter off, a calm Commander metaphorically shrugged and went back to his hay.
It was a small but definitive horse-handling master class.

No comments: