Friday, March 9, 2012

Blessi and the Adventure of the Rock Slinging Truck

12/10/12  Update:  I've noticed that some readers are getting to this post by using the search term "rock slinging truck."  If so, I don't think you are interested in a cute story about my Icelandic horse.  You may want to go to:  I have had no dealings with this company but a quick web search indicates that this site provides a lot of information about "rock slinging trucks." 

Last week, I took Blessi for his dressage lesson at another barn.  The owner had arranged for gravel delivery that day.  I pictured a regular truck arriving, dumping a load of gravel, and taking off.

We have just finished Blessi's lesson and I am walking Blessi in the covered arena to cool him off.  This monster truck arrives.  It is an industrial-size truck.  The truck parks at the end of arena next to paddocks.  The driver jumps out with a remote control.  With the remote, he can control the truck, move it forward and backward.  And the truck shoots gravel--up to 100 feet.  So with the remote, the driver swings out the attached conveyor belt from the side of the truck in preparation to flinging gravel into the paddocks at the side of the barn.  (Note I did not get a picture of the actual truck but I have included generic pictures of similar trucks).

I always try to take advantage of every opportunity to accustom Blessi to any new stimulus and I can tell this is going to be a big stimulus--the mother of all stimuli.  Note only is the truck making huge pumping, grinding wheezing noises as it moves about but the sound of gravel being flung is explosive in its intensity.  And you get the machine gun noise of "ching, ching, ca-ching" as the flung gravel hits the chain link fence that divides the paddocks.

Blessi is absolutely calm during this process.  The truck is to our left.  His head is down--way down--below withers level.  However, this is not the case for the other horses; the Arabs and warm bloods are snorting, running, or staring from the farthest distance possible from the "monster" that is spitting stones.

Dannelle has a paint named Splash in the cross ties being groomed for the next training session.  Well Splash feels so trapped that he is rearing and struggling.  Dannelle and Leah quickly untie Splash and put him still saddled in his own stall away from the truck.  To our right, Splash goes bucking around his paddock so frightened and upset that he is kicking at Leah who is trying to remove his saddle. 

Blessi is concerned with Splash's shenanigans on the right.  So he turns away from the truck on the left, his head come up and he looks to his right trying to see what is scaring Splash.  It is obviously not the truck to the left so there must be something scary to the right.  After a few moments, he decides Splash is being silly, puts his head down, and continues to follow me around the arena.  At one point, we walk to within 12 feet of the truck and he could care less.

And Blessi has spooked at things.  He did not spook at the rock slinging truck but he did spook one time because of a sweater.  It was a warm day during a lesson with Svanny so I took off my sweater and tossed it over the rail and few seconds later the sweater fell off the rail and hit the ground outside the arena.  Svanny asked me if I wanted her to pick up the sweater and put it in the corner where we normally hung stuff.  I said don't bother it is an old sweater.  Well about the third time as we were walking (yes I am pretty sure we were walking) Blessi noticed the sweater on the ground and took three or four side steps.  I was not paying attention and immediately fell off.  I am not a good, balanced rider.  You would have laughed at how easily I fell out of the saddle.  After taking the side steps, Blessi looked a little abashed that he had spooked at a sweater.

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