Three or four days ago I was leading one of our horses by the livery across the street, when suddenly a young, good looking dun gelding ran up to me and my horse and said " Hey 'ya guys! What's up?"
There was nobody near this horse. He was just wandering around sightseeing, I guess. I dropped the other end of my lead rope around his neck and took him back to the livery pen. A top rail of the cross buck fence had been knocked to the ground. Turns out that the dun, "August" (Auggie) was new to the livery and didn't play well with others, so the remuda (working herd) was beating the sap out of him. He left.
Auggie spent the night alone in one of our pens that night so he would stay home. The next day, the folks in the livery started seeing how he behaved under saddle. "Poorly" was the verdict. He had been saddle broke as a 4 year old, but then lived as a somewhat pampered pasture pet for the next couple of years and found himself in charge. Didn't seem to have a mean bone in his body, but wasn't about to pay any attention to what the people had to say to him. "Look! A squirrel!" was about the best you could hope for from him. Not too safe with a thousand pound animal.
The next day, I was heading out to check on our horses, when I saw the whole staff of wranglers across the street lying down in the round pen. Then I realized they were lying down on the horse.
The technique is call "laying a horse down". And that's what you do. Tie up one leg, lay the horse down, and sit on it until it relaxes. It can be easy. It can be hard. Depends on the horse. When the horse "gives it up" easily, it is quick, effective and painless for all involved and the horse realizes that people are in charge. They may have you do strange things, but everything works out okay. If the horse does not give it up easily, it can be a particularly counter-productive event. Because the horse realizes he is in charge.
THE HORSE MUST NOT WIN.
I have never been a big fan of this technique, because the horses that need it the most, are the ones most likely to win.
Seeing this "dog pile" of 4 young ladies and one guy in the round pen, I trotted over to add my weight to Auggie's head.
The horse lay quietly for a minute or so and then seemed to realize "Hey! I weigh more than all of these fools put together!"
VIOLENT KICKING THRASHING PAWING ROLLING TWISTING KICKING for a minute or a thousand, and suddenly the horse was standing quietly, looking down at all of us.
(Me kicked in knee, wrangler has glasses driven into nose. Much blood.)
"Hi guys! Look! A squirrel!" says the horse.
Damn. THE HORSE CAN NOT WIN.
Again the leg up. Again the dog pile. VIOLENT KICKING THRASHING PAWING ROLLING TWISTING KICKING. Again the horse wins.
(Me kicked in head, another wrangler with partial dislocate of shoulder, no blood)
"I think I'll stand up a while!" says the horse.
Double damn. THE HORSE CAN NOT WIN.
Another neighbor shows up.
Leg pulled up. People on. VIOLENT KICKING THRASHING PAWING ROLLING TWISTING KICKING People off. Horse up.
(I'm okay this time, but 3 chipped teeth on another wrangler and neighbor has a flatter foot)
"Hi Guys! That was fun! When's dinner?" says the horse.
Horse down, head TIED to front feet. Six people, (six injured, PI$$ED people) sitting on the horse. Horse struggles, but stays down. Horse struggles again, stays down. Horse tries yet AGAIN, stays down.
"Okay gang, I think we've got him. Untie him and step off on three. "
"One, two, THREE!"
Horse just lays there.
"I think we've killed him"
"Nope, he's still breathing"
"His eyes are open"
"He's just not moving"
"Get up Auggie!"
"Let's roll him over"
"HE'LL KILL US!"
"I don't think so, he's not doing ANYTHING"
"Okay, roll him on three"
"One, two, three and OVER!"
"He's still breathing..."
Okay, finally the horse gets up. The very subdued horse gets up.
"Umm... what can I do for you?" askes Auggie.
So, the last couple of days August the horse has been working, taking out rides, and behaving with the other horses in the herd. Still bright eyed and bushy tailed, but more focused on the people than the squirrels.
But the rest of us are somewhat beat up and not working quite so well.
I think I'll just sit and watch the squirrels.