Merlin Meltdown

I’ve been very busy the past few days, primarily with the horses (yes, horses plural).  Remember the black Arabian gelding I’ve been so infatuated with?  I finally convinced Wally to go over with me to take him out and do some ground work with.  Wally grumbled about crazy horses all the way over there.  Well, the horse surprised both of us in that he was very open to ground work and could be handled without any difficulties.  I’ve gone over there every day since to do ground work.  We had a little bit of trouble on Monday when I took him out of his comfort zone, but not too bad.

It’s already raining today so I don’t think I’ll be able to go over today and it is supposed to rain hard tomorrow so it will be out then.

I had a good ride on Merlin on Monday.  He was a bit hot, but now too bad.

Tuesday was the meltdown day.  We finished his free-standing stall on Sunday and I caught him on Monday by putting food into the stall and then closing the gate.  Tuesday didn’t go that smoothly.  On Monday when I finished riding him I let him loose without putting his halter on.  My bad.  When I went into the stall on Tuesday with halter and lead rope in hand, Merlin lost his mind and acted like a wild mustang that had never seen a halter or lead rope.  We spent about 20 minutes going around and around and around the stall.  Every time I tried to get to his head, he presented me with his butt.  If I applied too much pressure to try to disengage his hindquarters, he pushed into the sides of the stall as if he was going to go through them.

We only covered the roof with tin.  The rest of the stall has wooden fence-like sides.  We will close it in when the weather starts to get bad again.

Finally I caught him and got the halter on him.  When I brought him up towards the house and started to work on desensitization exercises, he got even more buggered than normal and went into reverse, dragging me with him until he pulled the lead rope out of my hands.  He’s never been that agitated in the past, but the stall episode got him going.  Now I had to catch him on 15 acres.  That took me about 45 minutes.

By the time I caught him again, he was beyond working with so I just put him back in his paddock — STUPIDLY — AGAIN without a halter.  An hour later I went back down to try to catch him to put his halter on him.  That took over an hour.  I simply ran him down until he couldn’t run any more and let me catch him.  It’s a wonder he isn’t lame today.

The people who own the Arabians gave us a used round pen which we picked up and put together on Monday.  I wasn’t a fan of round pens until now.  After I caught Merlin the third time, I brought him down into the round pen and did Clinton Anderson round pen exercises.  I should of watched a round pen episode before I started doing them because I wasn’t doing them quite right.  Initially, I kept his feet moving until he stopped facing me.  That took a while.  I praised him when he faced me and let him rest.  Every time he stopped with his butt to me, I got him moving again.  This morning, I wanted a round pen episode on-line and realized what I was doing wrong.  I’ve been down there several times today doing the exercises correctly.  The last time I went down there was with the intention of bringing him back up because it was starting to rain.  I caught him without any problem.

All in all, Merlin is a very nice horse, but it’s quite obvious he hasn’t been treated kindly in the past.  The difficulties in catching him seem to be tied to his reluctance to let you touch his head.  He’s extremely head shy, especially on the right side.  It’s very, very aggravating to have a horse that turns his butt to you … essentially threatening to kick you, when you try to catch him and then there are the difficulties associated with handling a reactive, fearful horse on the ground.  Under saddle, he’s quite brave.  He travels over obstacles that a lot of horses wouldn’t attempt.  He’s wonderfully comfortable to ride and will go all day.  I’m looking forward to the next Robbie Potter clinic to work on these issues.  Hopefully I’ve resolved the catching problems, but I’m not holding my breath.

The round pen was a wonderful gift.  I know we’ll get a lot of use out of it.  It is very rusty and a few of the panels need to be repaired, which we can do.  A coat paint will make it look almost new.  We set it up in the lower part of the back field.

Back to the black Arabian.  His name is Alvin, which I hate, but so far, I can’t think of a similar-sounding name that I like.  Merlin’s name was Chief before I got him and I hated that name so I re-named him.  The name Merlin suits him just fine.  Unlike Merlin, I don’t think Alvin has ever been treated harshly.  He has wonderful ground manners.  He’s a WHOLE LOT OF HORSE.  He’s considerably larger than Merlin and I believe he was gelded late in life because he has that thick, cresty neck that stallions have.  We plan to go over Friday afternoon to see if we can get him in the trailer.  I don’t know if he’s ever been in a trailer before.  A friend of Wally’s is going to do the first ride, or two for us.  We’ve been told that he has been ridden.  Hopefully the two horses will get along okay.  I don’t think Merlin is going to be able to bully Alvin nor do I think Alvin will bully Merlin.

I figure I have nothing but time these days, I might as well use it playing with horses, dogs and the other animals.  I do daily job searches, in fact, a neat one came up yesterday that I applied for.  Fingers and toes crossed.  A job will come around when I’m ready for it.  Until then, I’ll keep busy with the farm.  I have no idea what Alvin will be like under saddle.  He is big enough for Wally to ride, but he may be more horse than Wally wants.  He may be more horse than I want.  But given what he is and the potential he may have, I can’t see him rotting away in a pasture for the rest of his life.  I believe I found a home for three more of the horses.  Hopefully that will pan out this weekend.

I believe the udder issues the goats have been having are straightening out.  Angel’s udder is still a scabby mess, but she doesn’t fuss when I milk her.  I haven’t put her babies up and probably won’t for another week or so.  I don’t want to press the issue by trying to milk her out with a full udder.  Even with the babies on them, I am getting a gallon of milk from four does.  Addie gives close to a half gallon each milking, the others contribute the rest.  I haven’t had a big need for the milk so I’ve left the babies out with their mothers at night.  I made a batch of cheese on Sunday and it came out very well.  That it didn’t turn into a science experiment tells me that there isn’t any bacteria in the milk.  The last batch I made was a science experiment.  When there’s bacteria in the milk, when it curds it blows up to look like a mushroom.  The chickens and dogs don’t seem to mind eating science experiments so it doesn’t go to waste.

We got an all time record number of eggs yesterday: 29!  I discovered that some of the chickens were laying in the smaller ShelterLogic building.  Rose (I think) found that secret cache last night and consumed them.  What eggs I don’t sell or give away go to the dogs anyway.  They are so pretty sitting on the counter top.  We have a wide range of colors: from white to light brown to medium brown to a deep chocolate brown as well as blue.  This morning, I found a duck in one of the hen nests.  When I checked the nest later on, there were no eggs visible so I believe they are getting to set and the eggs are buried in the straw.  I don’t think I’m going to let them.  Both Wally and I want to switch from the Khaki Campbell ducks to Runner ducks.  Adult runner ducks are hard to come by, so we’ll likely have to raise them from ducklings.

Tomorrow is tax day.  I am going to make myself sit in that office until I get them done.  I have been putting that off for too long now.  Since it’s going to rain hard all day, it will be a good day to do it.

Until later …

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