Wednesday, August 24, 2011

freedom fart

Jasper is getting rowdy. He can't help himself. Ever since the new stall and paddock was built he has been moved from pen to pasture regularly. This haltering up, leaving the gate, and walking him to and from a location isn't always easy. When he spends a day or two in the barn he comes out snorting and whinnying in my hands. He's just 11 hands, but strong as all get out. After a summer on grass with all the space and exercise he could crave, he is strong, solid, and if I had the nerve to put a saddle on him there is no doubt in my mind he could carry me across these few acres. He's thick with muscles and alive with curiosity. But even as a pony, he is easily 550 pounds, and that's not always easy for a 5'3" tall gal to carry, even one of swarthy slovak stock.

On grass he is skittish and wants to bolt. He hooves dance, and I am as careful as an electrician in a swimming pool. Soon as he hits pavement or a road, he is calm as a kitten though. A testemant to his days as a working amish cart horse. Pavement means business to him. Grass means college kegger. I can walk him like a swaybacked ol' trail horse on the road, but going across the lawn is like rolling a fat kid over twinkies and asking him to keep his mouth shut.

I refuse to back down or give up though. I move him around, and he knows who is in charge. I hold my ground and work with him every chance I get. Last night at the rodeo I saw these women barrel racing on their quarter horses like champions in a western flick. That is not me and Jasper. If I am lucky, Jasper and I will be able to someday hitch up the little buckboard cart and head the three miles into town.

Tonight I we up to the pasture together, him all excited and fussy, and I focused and determined. I held his hatler in my hand, guiding him tough. When I finally let him out to those acres of green grass and apple he exploded! He leaped into the air, kicked out both back feet to the left, and while both back legs were airborn sideways in glee, he let out a merry fart. I laughed so hard I nearly peed. He then pounded around, blowing off steam, leaping and running like a colt on crystal mushrooms. The sheep watched from behind a fence, happy to be away from that mad man farting amongst the apples. Jasper ran to the top of the hill and rolled around on his back like Gibson does on the living room floor. He then started down at me, resting on his legs like an equine sphinx. If I knew what he was thinking I could conquer the world.

He is a goofball, a free spirit, a jackass, and a piece of work. But I love that pony. And on those occasional calm walks down the mountain road I feel like the luckiest girl in New York. Learning to work as one will be a huge lesson in this life. Stay tuned.


Blogger kandy Gray said...

rolling a fat kid through twinkies..... pua ahahahah!

August 24, 2011 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I love it! I could picture his joy thanks to your wonderful way with words. Y'all will make a great team. I laughed out loud. Can't wait to see the pic in the cart.

August 24, 2011 at 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop thinking about your "pony" as a pony. He has character, as does the rest of you farm friends. They are their own beings. Embrace the with the humility and digintiy that we (humans) deserve. They are just as amazing as we think we are.

August 24, 2011 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Single Serving Jack said...

So why is Jasper in the barn when it's so nice out?

August 24, 2011 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

ROFL! I could picture this so clearly, the way you told it! Your pictures and videos of the farm made it clear in my mind, too. Horses do that quite often in their exuberance!

August 24, 2011 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

to keep him on the bit of pasture I have that was eaten down to near moss. It needs time to grow. and with the storm coming, he is better in the barn then the shelterless pasture. Also, to get used to being moved, handled, and work out the kinks in the new stall before winter.

Elise I don't understand what you mean.

August 24, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I call that move the jump-fart-snort. Although not necessarily in that order, all three will usually occur within ten seconds of turning my horse out :)

August 24, 2011 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I promise not lecture like last time. There are several things you can do to make the walk up to the pasture a pleasant one for both of you. I would imagine your riding instructor would have some great ideas to make that happen.

August 24, 2011 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Christee said...

I laughed out loud to that post. That was hilarious!! Good for you Jasper!

August 24, 2011 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger frakier said...

When I saw the title "freedom fart" my first thought was typo, figuring you intended it to be "freedom art". Mostly because you are always talking about the different artist in your area. So when I got to the reason for the title I had to clean a little sweet tea of off my monitor.
After a good laugh I had to read it again.

August 24, 2011 at 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our old Arab mare used to do that. Thanks for dredging up that fond memory. :)

August 24, 2011 at 11:25 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

One of your funniest post. I love it! Totally saw the silliness of the whole event and laughed out loud. Thanks for that! I love your pony too.

August 24, 2011 at 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am not usually one to offer unsolicited advice (and i'm sure you get enough as it is) but i can't resist giving you one small tip. the single best, stupidly easiest tip in all my years as a trainer is this: if a horse moves its hip away from you, you are in control of it. (and not the scary intimidating kind of control, but the kind that he understands intuitively on his level)

horses' power is all in their hind legs and if you watch horses interact naturally, you'll notice that the alpha horse controls the others and none of the less dominant horses will move their hips (rear ends) towards the dominant horse unless they are challenging it... i.e. they are going to try to kick it. i have seen this over and over again in every horse and rider i have ever dealt with that are having issues. when i ask the human to try to move their horses' hip away, the horse will inevitably shove back and prove that there is a power struggle or dominance issue.

simple fix: with a halter and shank on, leave a nice long loop in the shank (maybe on the way back from the pasture when he's not jumpy and energetic, plus you dont want to be in fart range...) walk towards his hip (no pressure on the lead) and "ask" him to move it away from you (by gently pressing on his hip behind his flank and talking to him telling him to move over). just a step is enough to start. if he steps away easily and is not afraid of you and you're not pulling his head around with tension in the lead, then there's a horse that probably respects you and won't be much of a problem. make sure you can do it on both sides and after a few times he should be yielding his hip to you easily and freely, for as far and as long as you'd like.

more often than not, they'll force their hips back in to you, especially if you provide a nice constant push that they can lean in to! you're not going to out shove a 600lb horse, so you need to do a few things such as a constant tapping on his hip (not painful, just annoying) and be patient with it until eventually he gets tired of it and cedes.

wow, that was kinda long for advice you probably don't want. but honestly, get that hip nicely moving away from you, and you are alpha horse. you instantly will get a respectful horse as you are speaking in his language. oh and lots of good boys and scratches when he does what you want are always appropriate!

you know, i never would have pegged him at 11 hands if you hadn't said so. he has a lot of presence. i'm guessing those amish don't mess around with horses so i'm sure you have a real good worker on your hands. good luck!

oh, and i have no idea what elise was talking about either...

August 25, 2011 at 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps just ordered your book on amazon! very excited for it to show up!

August 25, 2011 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger admin said...

I love your Twinkie analogy. Very interesting the fellow is so calm on the road. Keep up the good work with your pony— he sounds great, spunkiness and all. Working with horses just gets better and better over time as you get a feel for them which it looks like you are!

**And best of luck with Irene.

August 25, 2011 at 1:42 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I always chuckle when the sheep and goats cough and fart at the same time.

August 25, 2011 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

do you take Jasper with you on your daily jog?

August 25, 2011 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

i'm curious, is the new run in shed going in the larger field or are you having it built in the smaller field that doesn't have grass (its only august and you have to feed hay...eeek)?

late summer/fall is prime 24/7 turn out for horses. in a few months you'll be mucking his stall every morning...shoveling and reshoveling paths to dump it and doing it all again the next day.

August 25, 2011 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger cloudberryjam said...

I love it! What a character!

August 25, 2011 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Lord love a duck...I laughed outloud at the fat kid through twinkies! You have the best way with words. Such visuals you create.

BTW, do you know about the Pioneer Woman? She married a cowboy. She has several cookbooks with his pictures in them. I think all cowboys must be sexy, even the ugly ones. I love their butts too.

Diane in North Carolina

August 25, 2011 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...


August 25, 2011 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Jimmie- Pioneer Woman is the BOMB!

August 25, 2011 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

I actually like the grass is a college kegger line myself. Great read, I got a good laugh from this post. Good luck getting ready for the storm.

August 25, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am laughing my head off at this post. Jasper seems to have a lot of spunk.

I just wanted to let you know that you gave me courage to start a mini-farm whilst still getting my bachelor's degree in engineering. I have two laying hens (used to have three, but my dog caught her), and nine rabbits, eight of which are for meat and fur! Thank you for your inspiration and showing doubters what can be accomplished.

August 25, 2011 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger onesilentwinter said...

Gosh i i love getting to know my horses. Jasper sounds like a great pony. I wondered why you kept him in for a few days that can be rough on a horse, do you have a sacrifice area, where no grass will ever grow that might be better for him that being cooped up in the barn.

August 25, 2011 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Single Serving Jack said...

Thanks for the explanation...that totally makes sense. We had a stud who stayed in the barn most of the time, He would fart whenever anyone came to turn on the water pump - which of course was right next to his stall. I swear he did it to be contentious and not out of any exuberance. That horse knew his farts were horribly stinky.

August 28, 2011 at 1:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home