Today’s Tip: Do your best to determine the source of the behavior rather than simply try to correct it.
I should have known that today wasn’t destined for the greatness I had hoped when it started with being awakened by a phone call from my boss. I don’t get calls at home for work related things often, so it’s not something I expect, nor do I mind much since it doesn’t happen often. Turned out it was a question about email. We’ve been down now for 12 days thanks to changing web hosts and moving our Google Apps account. HUGE headache, we’re totally at a loss for solving it…yadayadayada… (BTW if you know someone on Google Apps support please let me know.)
Anyway, it was a glorious day out. Sunshine. Moderately warm temps preceded by below-freezing temps at night (I like that, it seems to temper the melting/muck a little and I can keep my horses out since I don’t like them standing in muck 24/7). I also had more energy than I have on a Saturday in a while.
After breakfast, the dog and I went for a walk. She was thrilled. And muddy. I tried to decompress from work stress.
Then it was pony time! This weekend its Pretty’s extreme makeover weekend. We didn’t get too far today (that’s planned for tomorrow), but I did get the terrible tangles out of her mane and brushed her up a little. She still looks like a woolly mammoth in a manure swamp, but we’ll get there…eventually. They’ll probably all be inside tomorrow since it’s supposed to rain (40′s & rain don’t mix), so she’ll get deep-cleaned and body clipped then!
Once she was de-scuzified, we went for a ride. I was so excited because all the snow and ice is gone from the road and it’s no longer sloppy-mucky. We were going to go down the road and just have a lovely afternoon. We did some groundwork in the driveway and some stretches. That’s real progress for me! I kind of lack patience for that kind of stuff…it’s a problem. With the saddle pad I’m using right now, it’s supposed to warm up a little before you can fully tighten the girth (some gel stuff that has to conform), so it’s a good way to “force” myself to do it. Then we got on and she stood well. It was going to be a good ride.
It wasn’t. We got halfway down the driveway and she spun and kind of cantered/rocked/bucked back to the end of the driveway by the barn. This went on for about 20 minutes. And I hated it all the more because I wasn’t really sure of the cause. Pretty does have an attitude. If she doesn’t want to, she doesn’t. However, I did find some white hairs all along one side where a saddle panel would be, so something didn’t fit her well last year. I don’t THINK it was the saddle I was using, but it could have been or it could have aggravated something that was already sore. The bridle I had on her doesn’t fit her all that well, but I thought I adjusted everything so that it wouldn’t pinch her poor little ears. And I tucked her abnormally fluffy forelock out of the way (she doesn’t like it hitting her ears). I have only ridden her on gravel this year and been lax about picking feet (they’re always muddy…eeeewww!), so she could have had sore feet. I also mean to have the vet check teeth in a couple of weeks, so she could have a problem in there. I have no reason to rule out any kind of pain.
The general rule of thumb is to check all physical possibilities before blaming the horse. I do plan to work to rule things out. However, the fact still remains that I believe she was acting out of attitude. Evee, she’s my drama queen. She’ll convince you she has a broken leg and she’ll be legitimately acting out of pain. Over-acting, but she really does hurt. If Pretty hurt, she was just using it as an excuse to get out of what she didn’t want to do, not the instinctive reaction of pain. I’m fairly certain of this partly from a “vibe” (which isn’t a good indicator, but I believe it!) and because if we were near the barn, she didn’t react the same way. She was still kind of agitated, but not acting like a crazy horse.
We did spend about 40 minutes riding. This was not the kind of behavior she could be put away on, even if it was pain. But I did my best to minimize what I asked of her so as to not cause more pain (if that was a player in this game of rodeo horse).
My dreams of a casual spring ride down the road were trampled in the slushy snow drift that remains on the side of the driveway, but we still accomplished a goal for the day. The goal was to just get out the driveway without stopping and freaking out, turn on my terms, and return at a relatively relaxed walk. We did that and we called it a day. Here’s hoping the next ride has nothing to do with today’s attitude…