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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Putting the wild back in Wildairo.


I have a wild mustang in my corrals!!!

Today for the first time ever Wildairo acted like a wild horse. He was as sweet as pie when I put his halter on and hooked his lead rope.

Then he saw the stranger!

My little donkey eared horse became a fire breathing wild Mustang just because this stranger in chaps approached him. It was worse than I ever imagined. I have rope burns. If I was a drinking girl I'd have a drink around about now, yes siree.

Imagine if you catch a completely wild horse and try to touch him for the first time, that's what Wildairo was like today with the farrier. He gave him some carrots and greedy boy gobbled them up, he stood wild eyed as the farrier scratched his neck and even started to go all wiggly with his lip. But then he remembered 'stranger danger' and flew backwards in terror. Wildairo was terrified! He couldn't understand why the rest of his little herd, William and I didn't flee with him. I'd limped over to him to bring him back and he was relieved to see me and follow me back like a good little boy, then he go wild eyed again at the farrier.

I have never seen anything like it. He has bonded completely with us and trusts us but he as wild as the day he was caught with strangers.

Even if Jeff the farrier had managed to grab a hoof there's no way Wildairo would have held still to be trimmed. Jeff asked if William could lift his hoof up and I told him no because William is not a horse person, all he does is pet him and cuddle him. William wanted reassurance that Wildairo would be OK if he goes without a trimming a bit longer. Jeff said he was in big need of a trim and was growing long in the toes which would eventually make him sit back too much on his heels and it would cause tendon damage over time. Or he could knock a big chunk out on the rocks. Jeff didn't think it was a good thing to tranquilise him because it teaches them nothing.

The way Wildairo (I wish I had called him Cuddles now) acted I think Jeff thought we hadn't spent any time with him. He said we should just work with him a bit more and pick his feet up. I told him he lets Brad pick his feet up. Brad picked his feet up last night while Wildairo stood there with no one holding him. I concluded he just needs to get used to strangers. Jeff had other appointments and said he'd come back when Brad was there and they'd work on him some more.

If someone from the BLM came out to see him they would come to the conclusion we'd put him in a corral and hadn't touched him since. My gosh, what if he needed the vet? It doesn't matter how well be behaves for us because he will never trust strangers near him at this rate. Help! I need words of wisdom right now. I have never ran into this situation.

On a brighter note, Wildairo looked so very pretty when he was on high alert with his neck arched and his eyes big. He didn't try to strike out at anyone and once, when he took off in a blind panic, he carefully dodged past William and swerved to avoid knocking me over. He's a good boy he was just very frightened of the farrier. At least I don't have to worry about somebody stealing him, especially men in chaps armed with rasps.


Linda said...

Oh, I have SOOOO been there, Arlene--as you know well. I just didn't figure Wildairo would do the same. That is so WEIRD!!!!!

You've already come so far, you are not starting where I had to start when I found out Beautiful had BAD feet and had 3 days to go from nothing to something. I thought touching her nose for a half second was a big deal back in those days--so I was like--HOW IN THE #@@! AM EVER GOING TO TOUCH HER HOOVES??!?!?

So, back to the bottom line--patience and hope. You have the basics down cold--now you just have to bring in the strangers. Kitty Lauman's video about flagging is great, too. I think it fills in some holes about desensitizing. It's her second series that helped the most with the hoof pickups.

It took my farrier 2 hours the first time he came--most farriers will NOT put in that much time for a 40 dollar trim. The second time he came out he didn't. Then, yesterday, Tully was only willing to do it if Beautiful stood there good.

I think introducing strangers will do the job--but worst case scenario--maybe the farrier could talk Brad through a basic trim. Do you have a rasp around that you can start rasping his hoof with so that he gets used to seeing and hearing tools? That's a good idea, too.

Wildairo strikes me as very intelligent, so once he realizes these strange men in chaps with iron nippers and wooden boxes aren't going to eat him up--he'll be okay. (They might remind him of the men at Burns.)

You'll get there--and it will be sooner rather than later. :):):) You're doing GREAT!!!

arlene said...

Thanks so much for you kind words and advice. I really needed it.

I hope the farrier didn't think I was putting him in a corral with a wild horse that I hadn't bothered with. I was thinking that Brad could take down his hooves a bit. He used to removed old shoes for me.

I think it would take the farrier a good two hours just to try to get Wildairo's trust. Wildairo is so relaxed around us the change in him was mind blowing. A domestic raised horse pretty much treats all people the same but these Mustangs are so different.

William suggested that he goes into Wildairo's corral everyday in a different halloween costume. That made me laugh.

I was thinking today about the scare you had with Beautiful's feet and how you had to really hurry thing's along. I let his feet go so long because I thought by spending more time working with him and picking up his feet he'd be more ready for trimming. The poor boy is just scared of strangers.

nikki said...

Poor guy! lol I would suggest having friends over once in a while to go and pet Wildairo and give him treats. It might help him to relax around strangers.

I think Williams idea is a good one and I was going to suggest that as well. Up until you brought him home he hasn't had good experiences with humans (especially men). They rounded him up, branded him, gelded him (I think he's gelded already?), and chased him into a trailer. A lot of these "bad humans" probably wore chaps and cowboy hats and maybe walked a ton of different ways. Your farrier might have reminded him of one of the BLM folks and he thought something bad was going to happen.

I would suggest having your family wear different hats (baseball, cowboy hats) and alternate with chaps if you have some. Once he realizes it's you and nothing bad happens it might help him to relax when the farrier tries again. Also make sure the farrier pets him and introduces himself to Wildairo and that he has the time and patience to go slow since this will be his first trim.

Maybe have Brad pick up his feet and hold them and tap on them with the pick or a screwdriver. Then maybe rub something back and forth like the rasp would so he gets used to that.

As far as the vet goes I can't suggest much in that department. Tabasco and Pebbles HATE the vet and put up a hell of a fight to get vaccines (Pebbles has to be caught before the vet comes because she knows his truck). I would just say be prepared with a squeeze shoot in case you need it and maybe have a round pen or something a little smaller to put him in. Maybe see if you can also get friends to come over and lead him around and mess with his neck where the shots are usually given.

Keep us updated and keep your head up. Just remember that working with mustangs is like a dance. You take two steps forward and five steps back, and in the end it was all worth it!

Also just as a word of advice if you ever come across a farrier or horse trainer who does not like the mustang breed go to someone else. I had a trainer that I sent the babies to (to finish halter training so Tabasco could be gelded) and found out part way through their training that he thought mustangs were worthless. Shoni is just now getting over things from when she was there. And if she ever sees a man in a cowboy hat she will not let him near her.

arlene said...

Thank you so much for your advice. You and Linda have helped me understnad that Wildairo is just being pretty normal for a Mustang.
He was gelded last December. The farrier petted him a bit but Wildairo was very tense and only let him touch him for a moment. I was making the clucking noises and talking to him like he enjoys and I think that's the only reason he managed he control his fear as long as he did.
The farrier didn't seem anti Mustang. He seemed interested and was disturbed when I told I heard they put the Mustangs on a table to trim their feet. I think he could then understand why Wildairo was scared of him.

I will try your (and Williams) idea with the hats and stuff. William also suggested bringing his college friends out here. The other day Brad wore a straw hat into the corral and it scared Wildairo, so like a twit I told him to take it off.

I just had a thought, we should dress like the Village People and do the YMCA dance. lol.

Thanks again for your help.

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Does your farrier do hot shoeing? The burnt hoof smell can be very scary even to domestics. Maybe try putting lavender oil around Wildairo's nostrils next time. It's supposed to have a calming effect, and might mask the bad smell coming from the stranger. :) Or try Vicks. Won't be calming, but will definitely mask any scary odors.

arlene said...

Thanks so much Andrea,
I'll try to find some lavender oil. The farrier probably does do hot shoeing. I knew Wildairo would be nervous of a stranger but I just was so surprised he was that scared. I was stroking his neck and it was rock hard with tension.