Plenty of people have accused me of losing my mind in the winter months and I’m afraid the way I start this story won’t do me any favors in that department.
Late last winter I walked down the creek that runs through the gelding’s pasture to see if it was open for them to drink. I led Notso and Maynard followed behind. He’s always sure there is <something> that lives down there that is going to kill him. He might be right…
Anyway, after they drank their fill I turned out of the creek and stood for a minute before I turned Notso loose.
Maynard was still standing there and was looking around on high alert. He dropped his head toward his left leg and raised it again. He did it a second time. And a third. He looked like a bobble head doll bopping up and down next to me. I finally looked down and noticed he had cut his left front leg. I swear…that horse was telling me he had hurt himself. I swear. I took him in to doctor it and with medicine in hand, I reached behind his front leg. Before I could touch him, he lifted it up and held it there.
I know you full on believe I’ve gone off the deep end, but if you knew Maynard, you wouldn’t be surprised at all. Even Husbeast (while giving me the side eye) acknowledged that it sounded like something Maynard would do.
When he was born, he had a name. I’d already decided my next gelding was going to be “Maynard” but I never could have guessed I’d be gifted with one who wore the name so well.
His mother was gentle enough to come to me when I had grain but she wasn’t, at the time, the kind you walk up to and pet. Before Maynard knew he was Maynard, he came up to me with his ears up and sniffed my hand with his tiny velvet nose. He nuzzled my hand and I cried. That’s a long story in itself but I knew Maynard was going to be the one who taught me all over again.
Following the lead of a friend of mine who helped me start Maynard, I kept up with the ground work tricks that we had learned. I got to where I could send Maynard anywhere and I tried allll the options just to see how much I could get away with.
I’ve sent him along fence boards and up and over snow drift hills. I’ve walked him over tarps and experienced the shut down when he tangled in wire. I’d been taught how to work with his feet with the intention of preventing serious injury if he ever got tangled up somewhere...
We were trotting out to stop some cows and I was looking out ahead in their direction when Maynard came to a dead stop. I almost went over the dashboard and it took a bit of a scramble for me to right myself. When I looked down I saw that Maynard had trotted right into a tangle of old telephone wire and it was wrapped around all four feet.
He stood still while I picked one leg at a time out of the wire and walked him clear of it. When I led him off he high stepped carefully making sure I had done my job.
Evidence of Maynard’s willingness to check things out showed up down the road. I was in the back corral doing chores and he was in a corral blocked from my view by the squeeze chute and lead up. I heard a clatter and looked in Maynard’s direction. He had stepped his front end up on the catwalk so he could see where I was. That quickly became his new perch where he would observe our comings and goings and later create a repair project for Husbeast. Who found it less amusing than I did…
I rode him up to a flat rock one time. The rock was about six feet across and two feet high with a flat top. Out of curiosity, I asked him to step forward and he climbed up on the rock and stood there looking around (for his next monster, no doubt).
Maynard tries to get the other geldings to play fetch. He picks up sticks and chases the other horses around with the stick in his mouth. However, if one of them tries to take it from him he refuses to share. He herds them around and waves the sticks in their faces and then drops them and goes back to eating.
I watched him pack his snack tub around one day, dropping it, flipping it over and picking it up again.
He will “let” me scratch his face for him. There’s always been a rule about never letting a horse push me around. When I lift my hand to Maynard’s face to scratch it, I can hold it still and he will move his head up and down and move his face around using my fingers as a scratching post but never pushes on my hand. When he’s satisfied he moves his face away and goes about his day.
I can lunge him without a lead and I can ride him bridleless but he always takes an opportunity to let me know he knows he’s free. It's never in malice but just enough that I never completely lose my guard.
He’s also the sentinel in the bunch. He’s the first to spot <something scary> and sometimes invents said scary thing just so he can warn the others.
His downfall is his extrovert personality. He’s the most social horse I’ve ever been around. He hates going anywhere alone. He will go anywhere he's asked and he’s never done anything illmannered other than whinny to let everyone know he’s unhappy with his solo status.
He knows he’s got my number in certain ways and will try to keep me on my toes. But I can send Weebeast out to catch him and he will come back to the house riding him bareback after he’s had a month off. He ropes on him and works cows on him and Maynard is always his choice when we head out for cowwork.
I’ve known gentle horses and made it my goal to keep them around. Maynard is gentle but by no means is he “bomb proof.” He’s always plenty alert. He’s got a motor that never runs out. He can be worked hard and seem to be worn down. Give him an hour and it’s like he hadn’t yet worked.
His quirks mean there’s always something to laugh about and always a story to tell. There’s never a dull moment with Maynard around!