Mad Max the Crazy Arabian

Okay Arabian fans, explain to me the allure of the Arabian horse. Every one I’ve ever known was nuttier than a squirrel. We had a new horse show up at the barn about a month ago, an Arabian, and true to form he is a baby psychopath. His name is Max, he’s 7 and he’s supposedly a Quarter/Arab cross. He looks more like an Arab to me though. Anyway, his owner is off at college in another state and in her absence he’s become kind of a problem child. He’s herd bound, he rears under saddle, he barges through gates, tries to mount the mares even though he’s a gelding and generally is just a pain in the ass. My barn is supposed to be a self care barn but only half the boarders show up on a regular basis, so I end up taking care of the ones whose parents don’t show. That is how Max became my problem.

I would like to applaud his owner for not just selling him off and losing interest. At least she is making sure that he is getting the training he needs. More horse owners should be that responsible.

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On his first day he tried to jump over the gate when I took his pasture buddy out first. Then he tried to break down his stall door by jumping over it and rearing up and putting his legs over the door. (A few days later he succeeded in breaking the door and jumping out. Luckily I was not there at the time.) He shoved me around, tried to walk on top of me and was the sort of horse that puts people in the hospital. Since that first day, Max and I have had a series of “Come to Jesus” meetings where I ran his ass around the round pen and backed him up until he figured out that he can’t push me around.

There is another girl who is riding him and trying to get him to be a decent horse under saddle. He rears, crow hops and bucks but hasn’t managed to unseat her yet. I wouldn’t get on him for a million dollars.

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Most of his trouble with me centers around turning in and out and being stalled. He would push through the gate to be the first one in and, if I succeeded at fighting him off and bringing the other horses in first, he would rear up and try to climb over the gate. (Everyone says Arabians are so smart. Someone needs to tell Max that horses aren’t good climbers.) Then once I got him in his stall, he would panic. Once he figured out he was getting dinner in his stall, he calmed down. When it came time to turn the horses out again after dinner, he would go into absolute hysterics, rearing and jumping. Never in all my days have I seen anything like it. I’ve been lucky to be around nice, safe horses.

I started doing daily ground work with Max. He gets put in last and he has to be haltered. The other horses come in one at a time without being led and go straight in to their stalls for dinner. I make Max wait quietly at the gate before he can come in and I make him back up if he gets antsy. When it’s time for turn out, he goes out second to last. He has to walk calmly out of his stall and wait a few moments before I open the gate. It’s worked really well to make stand about 10 feet back from the gate and wait for me to open it and invite him through. If he moves forward without me inviting him, he gets backed up.

Three weeks of this nightly routine and ol’ Max is making progress. He has been perfect the last few days. If you were watching, you never would have known he was a problem child a few weeks ago. He is by no means a “bad horse.” He’s not trying to hurt anyone and he isn’t mean spirited. I actually think he’s going to be a great horse again once he calms down. He’s like a spoiled child who needs to learn some manners. And if I have to handle him, you better believe he’s going to be polite because I’m not getting hurt!

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Cellulitis.

The magnificent steed has been wounded in battle. Actually he was standing around being happy and cheerful when the new mare kicked the crap out of him for no reason. She has back shoes. (I hate back shoes!) He got a cut about an inch and a half long on the inside of his front left leg, just under the armpit. It was fine on day 1. No big deal. Day 2 it swelled up like a hairy sausage.

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This is a condition called cellulitis, a subcutaneous infection caused by bacteria let in by an often tiny cut. The cure is antibiotics, cold hosing and hand walking. It’s funny, I have a similar sounding condition on my upper legs, but it’s cured by diet and exercise instead of antibiotics. By Day 3, Barons’ cut had started to ooze lovely yellow pus. That was good though because the infection was working its way out and the swelling started to go down. I had to press the area around the cut to bring the pus out. I’m one of those wierdos that loves boils and zits and anything that pops, so this was actually thrilling for me. I was very dedicated to my nursing duties and made sure he got de-pussed and cold hosed every day.

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Pictured above is Baron’s mad face. “Stop poking me. It hurts.”

We are now on Day 7 and he is almost completely back to normal. The swelling is down and the cut is healing. Crisis averted. Thank God.