Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Story of Milo III

The Story Begins Here

I needed a real job. One that paid me cold hard cash, not one that just supplemented boarding costs. I let J know that I was looking for a part time job after work, which meant he would need to find a replacement for my cleaning services. I also gave him my thirty days notice. I loved having my horse at Js facility, but I still lived in Bremerton and with the school year approaching I knew it would be another long expensive year of gas costs. I also knew that J and his wife really would like to become a private facility no longer offering boarding. J of course understood when I told him of these two new happenings. And as it were, I was going in for an interview at a department store and hopefully would have a "real" job soon.

A friend was keeping her horse at a smaller boarding facility with nice amenities. I was able to stick a deal with the owner for some partial work for board costs, and we set the date: September first Milo would arrive. I had secured the position as a sales associate at the department store and would be on track to making my partial board payments. This facility was closer to home then Js as well. I also had a car for access on certain days of the week, so this new facility would reduce my gas costs as well.

The day came and we said our tearful goodbyes. We both knew it wouldnt be the end of our great friendship, but did know the closing of a chapter when it was presented before us. J had watched a young horse nutty girl grow up with his horses and her own, I knew it was hard for him to see someone whom he revered as family, now move on as needed in her life. I too knew I would miss J and his generosity very much, but was also excited for the new change that was in store.

Dad hauled the little blue Logan trailer to the new facility for me. The BO was there to meet myself and the new horse. I backed Milo off of the trailer and let him scope out his new surroundings. He would be homed in a modest stall and large attached paddock area. In the drier months, there were a few small turnouts available as well as the arena when open. The six stall barn, converted to four stalls with hay and tack space, had an open aisleway and adjoining covered arena. For the first time I felt I was actually in a "boarding facility". While Js covered arena and stalls were connected, there was no aisleway between and we did all of our grooming and tacking outside. In this modest barn, in my mind, it seemed much more "upscale".

The BO agreed to a light work shedule of three days a week. I could come anytime after noon to ensure that stall times and amounts were consistent day to day (no one person cleaned up after more hours then another). This worked right into my schedule. I was a senior in high school attending half time at the high school and half time at the community college. This allowed me to get chores done in the small amount of time open between high school and college. I was responsible for cleaning eight stalls and runs, as well as cleaning and filling waters. It wasnt a bad deal at all.

I learned even more about this little paint horse at this facility then I did at Js. I had lots of opportunities to advance his training, and with still supplying social time with him through cleaning, learned more about his goofy character as well. He loved to tip the wheelbarrow over when I blocked him outside of his stall with it. He also liked to grab the pitchfork and drag it around when I wasnt handling it. But I also discovered he liked to kick out at people when feeding came.

This obviously was a big problem. J had told me his did this to him once, but never tried it again. It was also the second day he was home, so neither one of us assumed much else besides him being a bit skittish. But now, it was confirmed that he had some food aggression.

I got a big surprise too when I took him to the county fair in August and he displayed this towards me. Automatically pushing him out of my space when bringing the hay net in, he spun around and narrowly avoided kicking me, instead sending the water bucket flying and spewing the air with its contents. I knew we had a problem but wasnt sure how to fix it.

Unfortuntely, I was not the one who fed at the new barn, so that posed a training dilhema for how to correct it. I was, however, able to pull a small flake of hay into his stall to work with during the afternoons. I approached it as it being my flake, not Milo's and he was in no way to demand it from me. I sent him out of the stall before feeding, then dropped the hay in the open door. If he tried to move in, he was sent back out using my training stick as necessary. Eventually he learned that while I was in the stall, he was to be outside until the door closed. This seemed to work for me. I never did really hear back from the BO on if it worked for her, but since I never heard anything I can assume it seemed to work fine.

This method then applied when someone approached with a wheelbarrow. It was far easier to push the cart in and keep the horse outside in the paddock by barocading the door with the wheelbarrow, then clean horseless. Milo picked it up quickly and soon would walk right out at the sign of a wheelbarrow or hay.

It seemed our feeding problems were combated, until it crept up again a year later.

1 comment:

Rising Rainbow said...

You just never know with a horse when those old things will show again.