Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ace's Endearing Habits

Well, some of them are.

I've decided to play along with a game I found on a couple of horse blogs. List some of your horse's quirks. I'll try to not bore you.

1. Ace does not like to get his feet wet. The funniest manifestation of this is that when he finishes urinating, he does a 90 degree turn on his haunches so he can walk forward without stepping in the pee spot. He has no hesitation in walking across a sheet of black plastic in a clinic but he'll jump a 2' puddle rather than walk through it.

2. Ace never urinates in his stall so long as there is a door open into the paddock. If he would just decide to poop only outside, he would be the perfect keeper. He usually chooses opposite corners of his space for droppings (one's inside and one is out), rather like rabbits do. If I am cleaning his stall, he will pose with his tail up long enough for me to get the muck bucket or rake in position to catch poop before it gets lost in shavings. You'd think I'd be able to teach him to use the muck bucket all the time. Trigger could.

3. He is usually the cleanest horse in the barn because he won't normally go stand in the rain or roll in the mud. I call him Mr. Priss or Twinkletoes sometimes and I've suggested that if he were human he'd live in West Hollywood or the West Village in New York.

4. Ace only lays down and rolls on his right side. He does not roll over on his back all the way unless something like a depression in the ground throws him off balance. Then he seems a bit confused about trying to get up from his left side. He clearly missed out on some experience as a baby to be that one-sided.

5. He would rather visit with humans than eat. He absolutely loves people. When he really likes a woman or girl, he will stretch his nose out so he can be kissed on the little white spot which is the vestige of his mama's blaze. He's really a woman's horse since men wouldn't fuss over him like that.

6. After carrots, peppermints are his favorite treat, followed closely by watermelon.

7. His curiosity includes looking for things which will spook him. He's like a kid sneaking a look at horror movies when mom and dad are out "If I watch this I'm gonna be scarred, I'm gonna be scarred, I can't help myself, I have to look at this, I'm gonna be scarred, EEEEK!" The precipitating event is generally followed by a three stride spook which he is too lazy to continue. At the last barn, he'd stand in the arena and wait for the neighbor's dog to come tearing up to the fence and bark and he'd do the faux spook, run a circle, and come back to start the game all over again. In the videos I've uploaded, you'll see him staring out into a corn field. It's actually a corn maze and strange sounds frequently come from it (and sometimes people jump out of it) and is one of the most incompatible-with-horse-keeping things the Enterprise Office at Pierce College ever decided to do. Far better riders than I have found themselves on the ground because of this operation.

8. Ace spooks by dropping his shoulder and ducking to the right. Every time.

9. He'll do figure eights and flying lead changes and amazing sliding stops and spins when at liberty in the arena. He's got a King of the Wind streak in him which will send him racing around a large arena for several circuits, both by himself and when he's got someone to outrace. I just get out of the way and watch from the sidelines. In one of the videos I've posted here you may be able to see him do figure eights.

10. He could be used for teasing mares at a breeding barn. The mares at Pierce took turns claiming him as their own because we often turned them out together. There was a young Peruvian Paso mare at Pierce for a while. One day, when she was in season, she desperately tried to turn him on by winking at him and backing her butt up into his chest. He looked around as if to say "I know this means something but I don't have a clue what." The best he could do was nibble her back a little. She was very disappointed.

These videos were taken one afternoon shortly before Pierce College sent out notices to all of its boarders that it was suspending boarding operations. I haven't looked at these images recently and it just kills me that all of this space and the barely used barns are being wasted while people are desperate to find facilities for their horses all over the San Fernando Valley. It was used for two evacuation operations during the fall fires last year, but there is still no indication when it will be open for boarding again. This facility is three blocks from where I live and was built with public funds on the pitch that such a facility was needed in this part of the Valley (that much was certainly true.) Now it is home to pigeons and black widow spiders. I'm not even sure the riding classes at Pierce have been able to use the covered arena. The Pierce riding horses are kept in large paddocks and not in the new barns. There are trails on the 430 acre campus which are not open to public, which is a shame because there are land-locked horse owners living nearby.

Ace lived at Pierce for over four years and I've worked at Pierce since 2004. I now drive 7 miles in each direction every day to see my horse. I used to see him three times a day. I miss that.


Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and deciding to play our "Quirky" game. It's great to learn about Ace. I know that Silk and Siete would really go for him. I lived in LA for 5 years and in San Diego for 10 more before moving my tribe back to the East Coast. So, reading your blog feels a bit like going home, if that makes any sense. I will come back to visit often.

M. C. Valada said...

It will be great to have you drop in. I do know what you mean about visiting home. I grew up in the Catskills and lived in Northern Virginia for 15 years, so I am very familiar with your neck of the woods as well. I do not miss the snow except as backdrop for photographs and you've had some really nice ones of your girls.