Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Night and Day

As deep, dark and mercurial as Poco can be, Jazu is at the opposite end of the emotional & behavioral spectrum: puckish, curious, mischievous, quirky, with a gentle, light, (mostly) cooperative little spirit. What you see is pretty much what you get. They couldn't be more different.

Heather and Jason brought Jaz in the first few days of January 2007. Jaz called to Poco from the trailer, Poco perked up, called back and came trotting over as Jaz did a backwards jackrabbit hop out the back door, and they were off! Seeing Poco so joyful about his new friend made me feel happy for him, but I also felt bad that he had been without a friend at all. It has only been over time that I have come to realize the nature of herd animals -- they don't like being alone. Heather had also told me they would learn from each other. Initially, I hoped any learning would be one-sided, since Poco had so many bad habits, and according to Nita and Heather, Jaz hung the moon!

I almost forgot! Besides being a great opportunity for me to learn and gain confidence on a safe horse, this arrangement was also rehab for Jaz. He had suffered a good sized crack in a hind hoof, had not been ridden and was therefore out of shape. This was a chance for him to be eased back into activity.

Jazu is and always will be a teacher and caregiver. You could put a two-year old on his back, walk
away, and Jaz would keep the baby safe. Jaz's attitude seems to be, "Don't worry. I know this drill inside and out. Let me do the driving and you'll be fine. I know what's best for you." This is great for children and other bare-bones beginners, because it builds confidence along with skill. However, once a rider is past the point of needing to be babysat, the other side of Jaz, aka Shithead, shows itself. He's so submissive and so far down in the pecking order in the herd, newbies, kids and foals are about the only things he gets to boss around. When they push back, Jaz doesn't want to give up his position as know-it-all boss. As described in a previous post, it was at this point in our relationship -- although I didn't realize we were at that point -- that Jaz began resisting direction, even running me into a tree!

Jazu is such a BOY. He's not fond of being groomed ("Awwww MOM!!!") and the second we're done, he'll take 2-3 steps before he drops and rolls, undoing any good which may have just been done to his appearance. Despite any therapeutic anti-itch, anti-fungal products, he still rubs his entire body against anything and everything, abrading his mane and especially his tail to the point where he resembles an old, worn broom. It's worse in the summer, and I keep a product called Swat on his tail. All the trees have these pink smears just at the height of Jaz's tail. And don't even get me started on the state of what remains of his manhood -- YUK. Overall, he's just a mess most of the time.

Which brings me to the most annoying of Jazu's habits: this horse poops & pees often and
everywhere. If you see that tail go up, you better MOVE because he has no qualms about letting it fly on your feet or whatever appendage happens to be under him at the time. He craps in the loafing shed and has even fouled his own grain bucket. Personal hygiene is Poco's only good habit, which he seems to be passing along to Jaz, although I'm still caught by surprise sometimes, as is that cute little farrier :-)

Mike calls Jaz "Curious George." I've seen Mike bent over a car or under the tractor, digging, using a chainsaw - you name it -- and Jaz will have his nosey noser stuck smack in the middle of whatever it is. Whatever you're eating or drinking, both horses think they should have some, but their favorite is beer and beer soaked limes. Jaz is very social but until recently was not particularly affectionate. I LOVE loving on my ponies, so I'm glad he's decided it's OK to be a little more lovey.

And it turns out, I didn't have to beg them to sell Jaz. He chose where he wanted to be. He's gained weight and is so obviously a happy, happy boy. I consider myself really lucky to have him. He HAS taught Poco a lot. And without his patience, kindness and cooperation, I would have given up a long time ago.

Next time: Did National Velvet do this?

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