Sunday, June 15, 2008

We All Have Issues

From the very beginning, I had thought of keeping a journal of my adventures, but it has taken me a year and a half to get around to it. I'm glad I waited, for it is only in retrospect that I can (hope to) accurately write about what's inside Poco's head and heart. Little is known of Poco's history prior to Jerry. Back then he was called "Cappuccino." Much of what follows is conjecture, based on our observations of Poco's behavior, Heather's experience, and our combined intuition and instincts.

Think of him as the rudest, cockiest, and most macho of bachelors -- "Yo Adrian!" One common description of a horse like Poco is "proud cut," which means nothing more than he doesn't know he's a gelding. In his own mind, he's still the studliest of muffins. Get him around a stallion and he is unpredictable at best. Get him around mares (in season or not) and he's downright STUPID. Some of this is just bad behavior and he has gotten a whole lot better as his manners have improved.

Poco (or "Rusty," as he was known in at least one previous incarnation) was probably a working ranch horse, primarily handled by men.
Prior to meeting up with us, he had very little experience with women and zero respect for them. He was not a pleasure horse; he had a job to do. While not necessarily abused, Poco was handled roughly and forced to obey; he was never given an opportunity to develop a willing spirit. It was the cowboy's way or the highway, and we think he changed hands quite a few times. His behavior and attitude in those early days here reminds me of the classic foster child mentality: "Why should I settle down? Why should I trust? I'll be leaving soon, so I'll just act up and make it happen faster. That way, I am in control." This attitude prevailed until only recently. I guess we must have passed the mark when he thought he'd be sold.

With Poco, what you see is not even close to what you get. He is scary smart and thinks way too much and too hard about everything, which is the source of most of his problems. If he had opposable thumbs, we'd be faced with global domination by an equine. He is his own worst enemy. For all that bluster, he is sensitive, intense, moody, mercurial. He is extremely food-driven and easily bored. "What's in it for me? Please tell me it's food. OK, I'm bored, time to do something else." He will try to take advantage of you every chance he gets, and he can be very clever about it. He can be stubborn, pushy, petty, jealous, uncooperative, non-compliant, belligerent, sulky. In one of his milder moods, we call him a snotty pony; if he's really acting up, it's Psycho Gelding. Don't get me wrong, he has NEVER threatened to kick or bite me, although he has challenged my authority on many, many occasions. Only once has he even hinted he might be thinking about rearing or bucking, but it was a total bluff.

The other side of this horse is sweet, affectionate, mischievous, playful, curious, at times even exuberant. This is the horse that follows me around like a puppy. When we're sitting outside in the drivewa
y, this is the horse that comes over and puts his head between my knees, leans his head on my shoulder, or nuzzles my hair. He is fascinated by my toes. This is the horse that fights to keep his eyes open when I whisper mush in his ear. THIS is my Wildman Rockstar, my Pokey Pony.

BOTTOM LINE: This is not a beginner horse. Naive doesn't even begin to describe my purchase of this horse. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have bought him. This is a LOTTA LOTTA horse. That said, necessity's a mother, and only because I have had to learn to deal with him do I know what I know today. I wouldn't be this far along if I didn't have to rise to the occasion. It has been and continues to be richly rewarding and satisfying.

Mike and I take the stewardship of animals very seriously. We have never gotten rid of an animal because it didn't act the way we thought it should. We've always done our very best to help our pets be the best they can be, and provide for their health and happiness. This horse is no different. For better or worse, he's mine for as long as he lives. We'll take the relationship as far as it can go.

Next time: Jazu

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