Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Boogie Man

by Patti Brooks

Life was scary for Tommy, a big-eyed Morgan gelding. He saw the boogie-man in everything. His official name was Trijas Tantara and his two older sisters had graduated from our Storybook Training Stable and went on to bring years of enjoyment to their owners. But Tommy.....

Our farm was located at the edge of a state forest and after serious lessons in the ring, we would take the horses out on the forest trail. That was not a plus for little Tommy. He was the only horse I ever trained that would shy at the shadow cast by a big bird  (hawk, Canada goose, buzzard) flying overhead.

Bicyclers enjoyed the state forest trail, too. Tommy was certain they were panthers. Bicyclers, hunched over their bikes, sliding quietly toward him. His equine instincts said PANTHER! And those same instincts told him exactly what to do...flee.
Tommy: "Out of Here!"

The sight of a car was enough to make Tommy break out in a sweat.  He simply lost his mind and would run blindly in the other direction.  Something had to be done. He wasn't safe to ride.

So, one day when it was everyone's day off, I turned Tommy out in our indoor ring. Then I drove our small Datsun truck in. Tommy raced to the far corner. I drove willy-nilly around, honking the horn. Then I stopped and slammed the truck door. Next I revved the engine and took off, weaving about the indoor, honking the horn.

Tommy was visibly shaking. I parked the truck in the middle of the ring, got out and let the tail gate down.  I went to the feed room and got a pail of grain which I brought to the quivering Tommy.  The grain took his mind off the truck and he gobbled a handful. Turning away from him, I walked slowly to the truck.  Tommy followed a few steps before he glanced at the monster truck and quickly turned tail.  I continued toward the truck and placed the bucket of grain on the tailgate, then walked out of the indoor.

I kept busy in the office for a good hour before coming back to check on Tommy. There he was, cowering in a corner of the indoor.  But...the pail of grain was now sitting empty on the ground.  The little guy got up the nerve to snatch the pail off the truck and carefully place it on the ground.  He obviously stayed long enough to eat the grain before retreating to his corner.
Tommy & Pam
Note all 4 feet off the ground!

Tommy took more hours of training than any horses we trained into world champions. But eventually he found a soul mate. From the moment this girl laid a hand on Tommy's neck, he immediately felt comfortable and willing to put his life in her hands. She would make his life's decisions from now on and keep the boogie man away.

Don't you think those big eyes we all think are so attractive on a horse let him see more than he needed to?

1 comment:

  1. Friends of mine had a pony that was a bit like this. He turned out to be 80% blind, and was put to sleep. Very sad as he wss a lovely pony.