Wednesday, October 19, 2011

bad behavior

Take a fit horse who has had more than a week off. Mix in some nice cool Fall weather. Add in a trail ride with his archenemy. It all adds up to some bad behavior.

It started out fine, the usual slogging up the road. Neither Major or Ziggy is ever enthusiastic about leaving home, though once we hit the forest I asked for a trot and immediately got the great big, boingy, reachy stride. Major was glad to be out, and we trotted along, even over a small log (he just steps while trotting, doesn't jump, though most other horses do) and all seemed fine. He made a few snarly faces, which were immediately corrected, because I know it leads to worse.

Then we switched, and Ziggy got to lead. And Major's ears got all crabby and he jigged along, "I must keep within 2 feet of Ziggy or die!" while I tried to hold him back. And we switched, and switched, and both horses were silly, cantering in ridiculous places, cantering to keep up with slow trotting, just in a mood.

We should have stayed out longer, but you know, life gets in the way, and we had things we needed to do back home. So we trotted up the hill, where about 20 feet from the top both horses just lost it, took off, Major throwing in a buck for good measure. It took a few strides to stop him and reprimand, but I knew, he was not sorry, he thought it was fun. After circling a bit he was still not very contrite, but moved off a bit better. Then at a stop he kicked out at Ziggy, who true, was crowding, but NO EXCUSE! I was so frustrated! At least I had company, as Ziggy's owner was dealing with the same shenanigans.

This type of thing is so hard to train for, since it doesn't happen when you're alone. Or with some other horses. Just ones Major has decided for whatever reason he doesn't like. But he doesn't get to make the decisions, and I just have to work on catching him in that split moment before. Reading my horse. And every horse is so different.

I used to ride a gray mare a lot. She was great, except when she thought she was behind or being left. She would do a twisty-head thing and get both reins on one side of her neck! Clever, but I learned pretty quickly to know when that was coming, and pretty soon all it took was a little tug on the reins and a sharp "ack" to catch her before she tried it. I'm not in that same place with Major yet, but we'll get there.

It was just getting dark when we got home, so he didn't get the workout in the arena I was planning on. And I also knew that outside of the set-up situation he would have been fine. So as frustrating as it is (for Major and me!), I'll be planning some more rides with Ziggy, setting up those difficult solutions, asking for the correct behavior, and expecting it. And correcting mistakes. And continually working on it.

And to top it off, Major sweaty mess with the pleasant weather and his winter coat coming in. I debated, but it was not cold enough last night, so he got hosed off and turned back out to eat dinner and dry. Later in winter we'll have to keep our afternoon riding less enthusiastic, or I'll have to walk him dry with his cooler.

New season, new challenges.


  1. Ooh Oo bad behavior! Good for you for acknowledging the challenge for what it is--and then accepting said challenge! It's so interesting/funny that he has an arch enemy. It makes total sense, herd dynamics etc surely not everyone can get along. I've been really lucky with Blaze in that he gets along with/is unimpressed by 99.9% of the horses I've ever ridden with or been around. The only time I remember him really getting pinchy nosed and snake eared is when a riding buddy was letting her green gelding run up his ass for about a half mile. He kicked out. Fair.

    SO I'm starting my mare up after weaning the foal--the goal is endurance next year, my first 50 etc.. and I have a feeling I'm about to get a BIG lesson in watching my horse and looking for/correcting naughty behavior! Ack mares!

  2. Major is low man on the herd dynamic (or was, he is now in a private pasture) As I thought about it, I remember watching him kick out and dash off in pasture, so that is his method of dealing with it...I still say too bad! No kicking if I am around, I'm the boss!

    I loved the mare I used to ride, and didn't have any "mare" issues, just different horse issues! Can't wait to read your stories about her, good luck!