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Posts Tagged ‘Sican the Wonder Pony’

She only had a little lamb follow her to school. Kerry had a little horse, and he was way more fun that a bag of wool.

My daughter’s first-grade class has been studying Peru, so I loaded up Wonder Pony, donned my whites and did a quick demo for the 96 small people who brought their chairs outside for a quick lesson on our breed and a little Spanish for good measure.

Thanks so much to The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs for being cool enough to welcome us. We had a blast.

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Between crazy Colorado spring weather and family obligations (Really? I have to go to TX and NOT ride horses?!), Sican the Wonder Pony has been woefully neglected. For 10 days, I couldn’t get out to the barn and into the saddle. 

But Sican was not the one suffering — I was. Actually, everyone around me was probably hardest-hit.

Not long after I got Sican two years ago, I told my friend Cheryl Aldrich — his breeder — I needed to change his name. But I couldn’t decide if his new handle should be Zoloft or Jesus, because this gelding is both my anti-depressant and personal savior (cue laugh track).

I understand why heroin is nicknamed “horse.” They’re equally addictive. And I was definitely going through withdrawal. I was snappy, impatient, not sleeping well and generally unpleasant. 

Sorry, kids. Sorry, DH. Sorry, world.

But once I finally got my fix, the world went back to rights. It was like that scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy stops out of the black-and-white ruins of a farmhouse into her technicolor dream world.

My blood pressure lowered, my temper cooled, my chest loosened. Later that night, my sound sleep came back.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead.

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April is Autism Awareness Month. On the surface, that doesn’t have much to do with Peruvians or horses in general. But after reading a couple of books by Temple Grandin and watching the HBO movie about her life, I’m convinced otherwise.

Grandin is a world-renowned animal behaviorist. In her books “Animals in Translation” and “Animals Make Us Human,” she goes into vivid detail about how animals see the world. She covers cattle, poultry, dogs, cats, horses and even wild animals. With each species, she explains how her autism enables her to see the world as animals do — visually and with primary emotions of fear and curiosity.

She explains that lighter-boned, hot-blooded horses tend to have stronger fear and curiosity than heavier, calmer horses. She uses Arabs as her example of hot-bloods, but I think everything she describes also fits Peruvians. For hot-bloods, punishment adds to the fear.

Through positive reinforcement and calm, gentle treatment, we keep our horses curious. When they’re curious, they’re learning, communicating and focused on the task at hand; their brio is turned up. When they’re scared, they’re in flight mode. All they can think about is escaping the fear stimulus.

I see this very clearly with Sican the Wonder Pony. As smart and malleable as he is, it doesn’t take much to push the fear button. And I’m sure there are plenty of Peruvian owners out there who’ve rescued their horses from people who just didn’t understand the damage they do through harsh treatment. The rehabilitation of an abused Peruvian is long and painstaking. For some, the trauma does permanent damage.

So it’s up to us to better educate new people about the proper care and handling of our breed, and that means we have to better educate ourselves first. Do yourself and your horse a favor and pick up Grandin’s books.

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I hesitate to make a weather prediction here. We all know how quickly snow storms zero in on us after we make some seemingly benign remark about the glorious sunshine. And yesterday’s winds were brutal. In fact, they blew me right past the barn where I board my horse all the way up to Castle Rock to my friends’ indoor arena at Meadowbrooks Farms.

We had a good time playing with a couple of his mares and his stallion. But today I’ll brave the winds and assuage my guilt with some quality time with my own cayuse, Sican the Wonder Pony. The aforementioned bad weather has contributed to his mildly tubby state. Now that the days are longer and the weather gods are kinder, we’ll be back in shape in no time.

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