Since Brett stopped riding Mufasa, Mufasa has been spending his time in the pasture with Flash. In the summer he wore a fly mask, he gets his share of the cookies Brett carries in his pocket, and Brett checks him daily for ticks. Other than that (and regular vet and farrier care), he is left alone. With the demands of keeping the property up, Brett is only able to ride Pistol a few times a week. There is no additional time left for Mufasa. -- and the same goes for me. I don't ride Lucy, or spend as much time with her, as I would like. Any "free" time I have on the weekend is devoted to her -- or Jackson.
We tossed around the idea of selling Mufasa -- or even giving him to a trainer with the right skills (one who trains using the same philosophy as Mark Rashid). But, we didn't take any action on it. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing for Mufasa and that means being confident that he will be okay.
When Brett took Pistol to the Mark Rashid clinic a few weeks ago, Brett spent a fair amount of time talking to Mark about Mufasa. Mark remembered Mufasa from the clinic in March. He said that Brett had made the right decision in deciding to stop riding him. At 66, riding a skittish horse isn't a smart thing to do. Mark still feels that there is really good horse inside Mufasa and, in the right environment, he could be wonderful for someone. He needs a confident, flexible, rider. When we bought him, he was being ridden by a 20-something kid with a balanced seat and a kind manner. Mufasa was better then, than he is now with us. We are not the best place for Mufasa; not for him to be the horse that he is capable of being.
Yesteday afternoon, a cold winter system moved into the mountains from the Gulf of Alaska. We set up the horses' stalls and then brought them in. The girls and Jackson came in first. Then we went to the boys pasture where I put a halter on Flash and Brett went to get Mufasa. Except that Mufasa had a meltdown. He would come close to Brett, trembling a bit, and then lose his nerve and run off. Brett was getting wet and increasingly irritated. He threw some hay in the run-in shed and stomped off to stack hay in the barn.
Mufasa was miserable. He was running around in the rain, calling to the others. I took his halter off the hook and went into the pasture. I must have been a sight -- my rain jacket zipped up tight, and my cowboy hat squished onto my head on top of the hood of my jacket. It worked well for me, but I'm sure I looked like some freaky alien. Mufasa snorted and took off. I stood by the gate and he eventually came over to investigate.
Me, in a quiet, kind, but matter-of-fact voice: Mufasa, you are a pain in the ass. I know you want to go into the barn. You need to trust me.
He took a couple steps towards me -- and then took off. I stayed by the gate. He came back. We did this for what felt like forever. I told him that I wasn't going to put the halter on him until he touched me. He had to touch me first. He was curious about the jacket and my dripping hat. He did, eventually, stretch out his nose and touch me on the shoulder.
I approached him, slowly but with confidence. He trembled. I praised him for staying. I scratched his withers and then slipped the halter on. He thought about wiggling out and running at one point, and I said "whoa" in a stern voice. He stayed. And then we calmly walked into the barn where dinner was waiting in his stall.
Brett and I talked about selling him again. We had hoped that time in the pasture would mellow out the fear, but it hasn't. I created an ad. I tried to make it honest and fair to Mufasa. We'll see what happens.