I went to visit Pippin at cowboy camp. He looks great, maybe a bit tired from all of the fun things he gets to do there. Mr.Country Cowboy saddled up and began working Pippin, all the while telling me Pippin stories.
First there's the story of Pippin and the trailer. Mr. Country Cowboy says Pippin doesn't tie worth a darn. So, it seems that Mr. Country Cowboy (MCC for short) ties his horses-in-training in different places just to make them learn that they have to stand there. But, it seems that MCC is doing the the learning! First, he's learned that Pippin can scrape off just about any halter or bridle. Second, he's learned that if Pippin can't scrape it off, he might just try to break it off. Third he's learned that Pippin will not only paw and stomp his size 2's....but if he still isn't getting attention, he'll climb on the fender of the trailer! With a chuckle, MCC told me about looking over at the trailer, and there was Pippin, like some circus horse, both front feet planted on the fender just above the wheels of the trailer! I can just see him proudly looking around with that mischievous twinkle in his eyes! (Pippin, not MCC!) MCC has said that the next time he ties Pippin to the trailer, he'll put him on one of the old, beat-up trailers, not his new Featherlite!
Then there is the bucking bronco story. It seems that Pippin took exception to the rear cinch on MCC's saddle. I know that Pippin is extra sensitive about his hind end, which may be the root of our problem, but evidently he put on quite a show the first time MCC saddled him. MCC chuckled, again, in telling how Pippin bucked and bucked and bucked in the round pen, trying to get rid of that saddle, or at least the strap on his belly where no strap had ever been before. MCC explained that after watching my slightly stubby, short-necked, out-of-shape horse buck, he didn't worry about getting on him. It seems that Pippin's buck is hardly more than a rough canter when compared to some of the bulls MCC used to ride in his youth - 3 years ago!
MCC's 'Little Lady' also had some stories to tell about my Mr. Pippin. She's got his number! She laughs at how Pippin has to investigate EVERYTHING! He mouthes ropes, halters, buckets, tools, etc. He checks her pockets for treats - sorry, no treats at cowboy camp! He tries to follow the dogs and even follows the goose, sniffing to see just who she is. The little lady feeds Pippin last because he is so impatient and she will not respond to his stomps and indignant behavior when asking for his dinner. But, her favorite story was her first experience with him in the round pen. This was on day #1 at camp, and Pippin was a bit of a handful. He ran and ran and ran some more. He found it hard to settle down to even a nice trot. So, the little lady continued working with him. Or rather, she claims, she continued to stand in the center of the round pen to watch the show. The little lady was getting a bit concerned as some bad weather was moving in. She wanted to end this session on a positive note. As the wind picked up and the rain began Pippin continued his wild-horse antics. Finally he began to respond to her commands to trot and walk. The little lady was pleased, and only a little wet. She felt she had arrived at a good stopping point. She asked Pippin to halt. He did. She asked him to come in....he did, sort of. You see, it seems that a fairly large puddle had formed between Pippin and the little lady. Pippin did not particularly care to get his feet wet, so he walked completely around the puddle before coming up to the little lady for a scritch and a pat! That's my silly boy!
Finally, MCC talks about Pippin's boot scootin' boogie. This is the unsettling move that sent me to MCC in the first place. Whenever I would ask Pippin to trot, he ducked his rear end and swung it to the right. would work on transitions; walk-trot-walk-trot-walk-trot, etc. Eventually I'd get a smooth departure. But, the next day, I'd get the boot scootin' boogie again. I thought it was me. I thought that perhaps I was thumping him with my left leg. Or, maybe it was my hand, moving down the rein as I collected the reins for the trot. Or, maybe my weight was shifting and upsetting the horse. But, I have been vindicated! As I walked into MCC's stable yard, he looked up and said, "Ya know that move he makes? It is really annoying!" MCC told about taking Pippin out for a trail ride. He pointed to a tree, oh, maybe 200 feet from the stable. That was where Pippin gave him quite a show. He dropped and scooted his rear to the right and prepared to take flight (oh, I know that move)! So, as MCC explained, Pippin never got much further on that trail ride as they proceeded to work circles and walk-trot transitions right by that tree. MCC looked at me with the characteristic twinkle in his eye and said he wasn't about to ride him out on his own and have something happen that would lead to a long walk home without the horse!!
Although my horse isn't 'fixed' I came away from my visit feeling great! I wasn't imagining the problems I was having with Pippin. I wasn't overreacting to his actions. I wasn't causing the reactions. I felt exonerated in knowing that a professional who rides and trains bunches of horses each day, had the same issues that I have been experiencing.
As I left the stable yard, MCC told me not to worry. He told me that I will love this horse when I get him back. I can't wait. I miss my silly boy. Doc misses his buddy. It will be nice to have him home again!