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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Echo, the untouchable Mustang, gets touched.

This post has been a long time coming but here it is! I finally 'girlhandled' Echo Taffy the spooky little mustang.

I spent a few days getting ready by standing with him in the small pen singing and talking to him till he was really relaxed. The pen is next to the cattle chute and head gate. In the days leading up to the big day the wind was making the head gate bang loudly, which made him so scared his legs were trembling. It took hours of me standing with him to calm him down. We moved some truck racks to stop him from getting ideas of trying to go over the gate.

Saturday was the big day. We fed him in the small pen and trapped him there. He was very scared because Brad was there and he wondered what was up with that.

Slowly I closed the wing gate to keep him in a small space. Not easy! He completely lost it about five or six times and slammed into the wing gate I was holding, shoving me back rather quickly. In his panic he scrapped some skin above his eye. Very minor with no blood. Brad was watching from the corner just in case. I found it best to hold the gate with all my might to stop him from getting too much space to freak out in.

Here are the pictures of what happened once he stood still.


I touch him with a long bamboo pole. He kicked out towards the pole twice when I was a bit low on his flank. The third time I went there and he tensed up to kick I shouted, "Echo no," and he didn't kick.

Then I switched to a shorter whip which he preferred.


I found his itchy spot. He barely relaxed though, just enough to lick his lips and remember the carrot that had been in mouth for ages. The spot was thickly matted dead winter coat.

While he was enjoying the scratching, I slowly pushed the gate closer and slid my hand down the whip more till my knuckles brushed against his side for the first time. Slowly I replace the whip with my hand. All the time I'm singing the same songs that I had been calming him with for days. Brad and I were laughing about that. He refused to sing along. I think the singing was calming me down as well because I was just as scared as Echo was.

When I started stroking him it was a very emotional moment for me. For over 7 months I've been wanting to touch him so bad.



By the way, all this took hours. I was going to keep going and just see what we were brave enough to do. Just like when I put Wildairo's halter on for the first time last summer, I was very pleasantly surprised. I kept opening up the wing gate and closing it again. Walking away and then walking back to him. Getting him ready for the big moment when I approached him without the safety of the gate between us. I went right for his itchy spot and pulled away the dead matted hair.


And then we kissed.


And kissed some more. He likes to be kissed! I had a little control of his head by holding him firmly under the chin but when I tried to use my right hand it got too much for him, so I just used one hand.


His back is very humped up and tense. I'm down to 5' 2'' now which is 15:2 hh's. So you can see how tall Echo is compared to the top of my head. I was really surprised what a stout little horse he is. He has short legs and a very muscular plump body.


He tried to follow me when I walked away but then saw Brad and stopped.


Just as it got dark I went out to visit him in the big pen and just like I suspected, he wouldn't let me touch him. It's going to take Echo along time to be calm enough to be haltered, but we'll get there.

I'm half Welsh so I like to sing a lot. These are the songs I sang to help me gentle Echo;

The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel.

In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him
til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains
Yes he still remains

Also Wild Horses by U2;

Who's gonna ride your wild horses?
Who's gonna drown in your blue sea?
Who's gonna taste your salt water kisses?
Who's gonna take the place of me?

Who's gonna ride your wild horses?
Who's gonna tame the heart of thee?


Linda said...

Excellent! I'm so happy to read and see all those pictures. What a GREAT idea. I think putting the whole day toward it was a very good idea, Arlene. Some horses need more--and it's not like you're working him hard. I used to go out with Beautiful every couple of hours all day, but she's young. I can't believe how big Echo looks compared to you. I always assumed he was smaller. Maybe he's grown since you brought him home and started him on a good feed regimen.

Cheryl Ann said...

Good job! It actually took a full year before Scout would allow me to get near her! Now, I can't get her away! He does look pretty big!

arlene said...

I have only being seeing Echo from the front and I think I have been fooled by his very short legs and small hooves. He does look big from the side!
I think the mustangs have grown over winter. I was amazed at how fat his body was when I touched him.

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Wow, I bet that was quite a moment, to really touch him for the first time. Good job! Keep at it, he'll come around. It sounds like he likes you a lot, just needs to get over his fear.