Friday, February 20, 2015

The Head-Tossing Returns

A friend of mine wanted to trail ride with me and my pony, so on Thursday evening I texted her and we arranged to meet up. Naturally, I tacked up Western and rode off to meet my friend and her sister for our little jaunt around the roadways since none of the trails are even remotely open due to the snow.

I wish this was a post ride shot. It isn't.
 Riding up to meet with them was uneventful - Suz plodded along on a loose rein like she had done in the previous ride and I wasn't concerned. She responded to my leg and seat and we even trotted down one of the long dirt roads. However, as soon as she could hear my friend's horse's neighing from their driveway, something inside of her changed. It was like a mental switch went off and she was ready to come unglued at any second. I knew this feeling all too well, and suddenly wished I had worn my helmet. Now, I will preface by saying that I am not afraid of Suzie, but I'd much rather wear a helmet on a horse who is going to act like a dink than one that will just plod along on a loose rein.

Instead of getting up in arms about it, I decided to play it out and see how she'd respond to me. I instantly brought out the "quiet" rider in me and I gave minimal cues, knowing that acting like a bitch to her and demanding obedience would only cause her to act up. You see, Suzie is the kind of horse that doesn't do well with a loud rider when she is acting up - trying to fight fire with fire only gets me burned and I've attempted being the "mean" one a time or two and it did not end well. Suzie is smart, calculating, and does not forgive easily. When she throws a hissy fit, it's up to me to stay quiet and not turn the hissy fit into an explosion.
Before we met up with the other horses, she was a cool cucumber
The start of the ride turned out okay - she kept trying to walk much faster than the other two horses and began tossing her head like a drama queen every time I applied any kind of leg or rein pressure. I did what I could with her, but unfortunately, her behaviour escalated and before I knew it, I had a jiggy horse on my hands. She would have made the Mexican Dancing Horses proud. So she jigged, tossed her head, and at any kind of pressure from me (seat, leg, hand) she would whip around and side-pass down the road. Just totally awesome as traffic from school is starting and people are slowing down, watching the crazy physco horse run into snow banks and flail her head around like a lunatic. I knew I could have gotten off - I knew I could have just taken her home, but I knew it would only escalate into another fight down the road. It needed to be dealt with, but without the traffic and people gawking. And also, I felt bad that my friends were having a shitty time because of my retarded horse.

She jigged and acted like a fool for over thirty minutes. Just acting like a (pardon my language) fucking idiot. At first, I attempted to deal with her behaviour - circling, backing her up, trying to get her responsive to the bit, flexing, using my seat to slow/stop her, etc etc. Nothing worked. So, I rode it out.
Worked herself up in a nice "worry sweat" lather.

We went around the street where Suzie and Spud live and as we passed the driveway, Suzie sucked back and I kicked her forwards, past the driveway and immediately, she dropped her head and went on a loose rein. The rest of the trail ride, she was back to being responsive to my seat and reins - no muss, no fuss. She was back to being my regular, trail riding citizen without so much as an argument. But when I left my friends and headed back towards home, she turned into a monster again. Thankfully, by this time, traffic had diminished and I was able to work her properly.

With Suzie, you can't get mad at her - you have to use her against herself. So, we circled and circled and circled. Every time she was pointed back towards home, she sped up and then was brought into another circle instead of being allowed to walk straight. We repeated the exercise a few times and after about 10 minutes of screwing her fucking brain back in, she walked off quietly. A bit rushy, but responsive to my cues and listening. Spud was screaming for Suzie as we got closer, and I took the chance to hop off and work on some Showmanship before taking her back to the barn.
So tired.
check out the sweaty eye lids.
She had worked herself up so much that her eyelids were sweating. Every little part of her was covered in hot, sticky sweat. And the temperature was dropping as nightfall scattered across us. Perfect. I threw on her cooler, fed her some dinner and came back to the barn two hours later to check on her. She was bright eyed, but looked very tired (understandably) and perhaps a bit embarrassed (I can only hope). I gave her some bran mash with some Metamucil and her arthritis meds and tucked her away for the night. What a mare... turning twenty three and acting like a freak for her little mini friend who she acts like she hates when they are turned out together. WHYYOUSOCONFUSINGMARE.

I make all them ladies crazy

Oh, and I fully intend to nip this shit in the butt - I don't put up with Suzie shenanigans.


  1. I don't know if I could keep my cool during a ride like that. Kudos to you for doing it. I'm curious as to what your plan of action is to "nip this shit in the butt" as you put it.

    1. I was very, very close to getting off. Not because I was afraid, but because I was NOT happy with her. LOL.

      I have an up and coming post discussing my thoughts on this behavior and how I am going to 'fix' it :)

  2. I LOLed at the screw her brain back in part. Apollo has moments like this on the trail and it's so frustrating (and difficult not to get mad!). Good for you for keeping your cool and working her through it.

    1. VERY frustrating. Especially because she was the oldest one there and looked like a complete loon. SMH!

  3. ugh.... this sounds alll too familiar... and so so frustrating!! good job staying calm and 'quiet' tho -- no easy feat when our usually smart and sensitive mares have ridiculous melt downs... :(

    1. Oh no, does Isabel do this with you too? Very aggravating - esp when I am just trying to take her for a nice, calm ride!

  4. Personally, I always wear a helmet since horses are by nature unpredictable.

    1. I do, too. I'm not sure why I didn't.

      Looking back, I feel pretty stupid for not donning one.