The Melly Dilemma is defined as the need to
In Melody's case, I need her to calm down enough to get into the damn trailer, ride down the road, unload out of the trailer, and stand quietly beside the trailer while I get her tacked up. Once I put the bridle on though, I need that dragon horse. I need her to be hyper focused, and on point. I need her to be high energy and ready to jump at any little thing.
I'm sure some of you are asking why in the name of the sweet baby Jesus I would want her to be a total spaz under saddle. Clearly that is the most dangerous time to have a spaz on your hands.....right?
In most cases that is 100% correct.
With Trax or Killian, I could care less how spastic they are on the ground, but when I step up in the saddle I want calm and relaxed.
Leave to to Melly to be the oddball.
Melody is her most dangerous when you are standing next to her. Not because she is mean, and not because she bites or kicks or any of the nonsense. Melody and I have constant conversations about personal space and for the most part she does respect it, but if Melly gets frightened, she jumps to the side. She jumps right to the one she expects to protect her, she jumps right into your lap. She is the worlds biggest lap dog.
*perhaps this where the argument about imprinting foals would fit in- but that is conversation for another day*
However, if you are on her back and she gets frightened, you are already with her so the jump still goes sideways, but then she stops and listens and trusts you to talk her through it. (in most cases)
So with that mind, I'd much rather be on top of her than standing next to her.
Along with this train of thought is what she "does for a living".
Her job is to chase cows. That is it. Every thing we do is in preparation for the next time we are in a sorting pen. She is not a young girl anymore, and just like the rest of us old girls, it take a certain amount of adrenaline to not wear out in the middle of a job. So that nervousness, or spastic energy, or what ever you want to call it. That is what gets her through her job.
I admit that I love when we ride into the arena to warm up and she prances in, nostrils flared, neck arched and on high alert.
Is it the right thing? Probably not.
But is it cool? Hell yeah!
I'll trot her out like that for a while and then we will kick up to a lope and she looks so freaking amazing and everyone stops and looks and as we ride by people always comment about how gorgeous she is, and I smile and say thanks, and it is like the best day of my life all over again.
We stop and do some spins and then roll back and forth and she is quick and light on her feet...well as light as she can be for her size... and it is bad ass.
And for a minute I feel like I might even look like I know what I am doing.
Then we go and stand and wait for our turn to go into the sorting pen. They call our names and she prances in. I move her off my leg, left and right, to make sure we have our steering, and then we go for it.
When I first started this we went slow and easy. Now we hit it and get it as fast as we can from the minute we cross the line and she goes after those cows like she wants to stomp their heads into the dirt. She sees nothing but cows. It doesn't matter what is going on outside the arena. She is hyper focused on her job and I'm doing the best I can to stay out of her way, while communicating which cow she needs to go after next. And yes it is a freaking blast!
If she is on calming paste, she flat out cannot do her job. She has no energy, she has no adrenaline, and the cows can out run her.
So that is why I needed something to calm her down, that didn't involve adding anything to her system.
Then I saw this:
This is the HIDEZ Equine compression mask.
It is like the Thundershirts made for dogs, only obviously for horses.
Here is a link to their website. They have several different products.
It works like a compression vest, but it also specifically targets the calming pressure points on a horses head. (allegedly)
Sooo, I ordered one. It arrived yesterday.
This morning I knew that we were going to revisit trailer loading practice so I decided to give it a shot.
I was not even sure how I was going to get it on her, given her dislike of having her face messed with, but I rolled it up like a stocking, and fit it over her nose. Once I got that part on, she dropped her head and let me put it on.
I was amazed. She immediately started licking and chewing. She did a little head shaking as she got used to it, but after a few minutes that ended.
Red really is her best color!
I let her wear it for about 30 minutes while we got the trailer loaded and ready to go.
Then we asked her to load up. She balked the first time, so I walked her away, moved her feet for just a few seconds and then asked her again. She went right in like it was nothing.
The important thing I see is the lack of white in her eye showing. She is calm in both pics of her face.
It really is a big deal.
When we got to the public arena she backed out of the trailer like a pro. We saddled up and I took the mask off.
I had my fire breathing dragon back, and we went into the arena and everyone ooh'd and aah'd over how pretty she was, and I had a blast riding her and it was just as perfect as it could be.
When it was time to go home, I put the mask on while I untacked her, and then when it was time to load, I didn't not even have to ask.
She walked up to the trailer and hopped in, turned around and looked at me and said, "What are we waiting on?"
Here is my disclaimer.
I don't know for sure that the mask was the determining factor, but it darn sure seemed to help. She was not biting at the air while standing in the trailer, or pawing the floor, or any of her normal antics she does if she has to stand in there for even a few seconds.
It cost me $100 for that stupid mask. I can tell you that at this point, it seems to me like it was worth every penny.
The next test will be to try it on Trax. Since calming agents have a reverse effect on him, it will be interesting to see what this mask does for him. If it works, and he can go to a public even and not require an hour of riding to relax, then he will get a pretty blue one. If it doesn't work, it won't matter, because it worked for Melly!
I have a friend who bought one for her barrel horse who really has an issue with ally's. She raced him in the mask Friday night and he went up the ally like it made no difference to him at all. Flipping amazing!!
So that is my review. It is easy to put on, it seems to work, and no dopey side effects. If you have an anxious horse- you might want to try this.