Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Annie's Alter Ego

Oh look, it's Bannie.
I've mentioned Annie's alter-ego, "Bannie", on this blog a few times. Ironically enough, I refer to Annie as "Bannie" when she is not only particularly bad, but particularly good. So... kind of temperamental extremes? Haha.

Anyways. I kinda figured we were due for a Not So Great Ride since most, if not all of our rides have been more or less pretty good.

Unfortunately, Annie chose what was supposed to be a relaxing trail ride for her alter-ego to suss out. And for what it's worth, the alter-ego that eeked out during the ride wasn't the worst of the worst, but it was probably one of the worst trail rides I've had on her, aha. Thankfully, she wasn't bad the entire ride and we managed to turn it into a good schooling session of sorts.

Green horses, am I right?

#2 horse in a 3 horse line up!
For the most part this year, I've gone for quite a few trail rides so Annie has been well-acquainted with what it's all about and although she has been a bit "too" forward during some of the unknown trails, she has been pretty happy to plug along. So despite the bumbling over rocks, branches, atv ruts, etc, she's been happy to wander along and figure out the whole trail riding thing.

Old logging roads are pretty easy to wander down bc they're wide and don't ask many questions. Going through the real narrow, over-grown trails can be a bit more... hazardous bc they ask a bit more questions. So, we've been plugging along with the varied terrain and awkward footing.

And most times, we trail ride alone or with one other friend. Annie has been good to both lead and follow, although definitely prefers to lead. I have been practicing, when out with others, to have her walk in the back and front. She can be argumentative about it, but we do work on it bc it's something we need to suss out and it's something she needs to get used to just 'cause.

We wandered over the highway quite a few times on this trip!
On this ride, another friend joined us, so the three of us set out and Annie was super duper with heading out. She was a little excitable, but nothing crazy and she settled into a quiet long-rein walk. The first portion of the trail ride was through the subdivision and then we had to traverse over the highway and onto an old logging road, following it along to a bridge where we had to time ourselves just right to trot across the asphalt back onto the side road. The trail head was back across the road, so we had to cross back over again haha, and then wander into the trees.

Not one of us had been down this trail in a few years, so we got confused and ended up going down the wrong trail-head and the horses kinda got agitated once the trail narrowed down and we ended up hitting a dead-end. The trail was very overgrown and not the greatest so the horses were not impressed and attempted to turn around a few times (we should've listened to their suggestions, to be honest, haha). Nicole's horse got kinda riled up when we went to turn back and I'm not sure if it spread across to the other horses. She ended up dismounting and leading AJ out, as he was the last horse in the line-up when we turned around to head back to the main trail.

The Bannie is happiest in the lead.
When we rejoined the main trail, Annie ended up being last and she DID NOT like that one bit. She started to play up - trying to walk beside AJ and Colby... trying to pass Colby... trying to throw her head in the air and ignore my rein aids and just blow past the other horses.

So I kinda... argued with her, haha. In hindsight, I am kinda like "Why did I do that?" but I am also happy I sussed it out with her, bc thankfully the two other riders I was with were cool with it and happy to oblige when I asked for more room, etc etc.

Unfortunately for Annie, I decided to go kinda above and beyond to duke it out and when she started blowing thru my aids, I made her walk back even further from Colby and it only (obviously) made her angrier, haha. So after making her hang back even further, I had a Hot Mess Express on my hands (duh) and we did some jigging, side-stepping, and even some pawing when we all had to halt for a few seconds. She was PISSED.

No photos of us in last place, bc I was concentrating on not
dying and being effective lol.
We had to halt again along the trail and Annie tried to lurch forwards when the other horses moved off, so I reprimanded her (too bad so sad, mare), and she gave me a half-hearted "jump" (rear). I spanked her, bc no thanks, and continued to ride her as she danced from side to side of the trail and just made it all more of an issue than it needed to be.

I ended up asking the people I was with if we could do some leap frog - shuffling horses along in the line-up so Annie would be first, second, third and back again. I wanted to be a bit more fair and a bit more thoughtful in my application of dealing with the issue. Holding her back and having her dance around like a fool wasn't fun and it wasn't teaching her anything. So leap-frogging along each place would give her boosts of confidence as well as teaching her she can't escape what she doesn't like.

It worked really well, actually, and she grew much more confident even in the middle spot. She was obv happiest in the front, so I rewarded her with a very loose floppy rein and she complied happily. When we were in the middle, I worked on slowing her quietly with my seat and encouraging her to lower her poll. And finally, we walked in behind and applied the same things. Asking her to slow without a death grip on the reins, asking her to lower her poll, etc.

The final stretch before popping back into the subdivision.
We practiced leaving a lot of space between us and AJ - I am happy
with her listening ears in this one.
It worked really well and we did end up having some good moments. We also paused along the trail several times to just stand quietly - the first few times Annie had been so riled up that she kept fidgeting and swinging her hips around like an idiot so we just kept asking and applying it so she finally sighed and gave in.

For the most part, her tantrums are short-lived and once she gets it through her head she isn't going to win, she gives up haha. Unfortunately, I didn't really help the situation by getting mad back, but I am glad I managed to salvage the last little bit of the ride and give Annie some good hearted schooling.

I thanked both the girls I rode with and both of them were more than happy to oblige with helping me school. We managed to finish the ride in just about 2.5 hours and went about 11km, so it was a good chunk of time.

Has no problem when her friends split off to go home, but just
doesn't like to be last. -_-

What about your horse? Do they prefer to be in the lead? Is this just a baby horse thing? What do you do in situations like that? I'm curious!!


  1. All my horses are a little different about leading. Apollo is actually much worse (and generally a dick, but much better than he used to be) when I ride with other people, he has to be the front and is frantic about where everyone else is. Henry likes to be in the front but doesn't mind following, he is much happier when he has company though. Mystic doesn't mind where she is in the pack and I really appreciate that after years of Apollo's trail frantic-ness.

    Your trails are so beautiful! I'm jealous haha!

    1. I feel like the more she gets out there and gets acquainted with the Great Wilderness, the better she'll be. The wider trails certainly don't cause her to play up like the thicker/more overgrown/narrower trails do.

      We'll keep plugging away!

  2. My horses never went out on the trails, so no help here, sorry! But I think you handled it well with the leap frog idea.

  3. oh annie... it's supposed to be fun and relaxing!! isabel usually always took the lead bc she walked faster than everybody else and would not tolerate being stuck behind a slower horse. charlie doesn't seem to care one way or another, tho he also does not like being stuck behind a too-slow horse. i usually just try to find a way to keep the horses happy where possible - like if one really needs to be in front then that's what we do. eventually with enough miles they seem to chill out anyway... usually haha

    1. It was relaxing up until that point, lol.

      I feel like it's necessary to do what you can to keep your horses comfortable, but at the same time Baby Pony needs to learn to deal with it, hahaha. We'll keep going onwards - more miles and wet saddle pads... forever and ever amen!

  4. Bridget actually went from wanting to be last...like 'see you later, have a nice ride' last, to wanting to be first now. It's a bit strange, honestly. We've done the leapfrogging exercise and I've noticed that it's pretty rare for any of the horses to be happy in every spot. Sounds like an excellent and productive ride!

    1. I feel like the more we go along, the more Annie will relax and just do the thing, haha. She's pretty relaxed if we have just one other horse, but being in "last place" really pissed her off lol.

  5. The more you take her out the more she will learn what you want from her. I don't really trail ride so I'm not much help with opinions there. But eventually I think she will do what you want.

  6. The alter egos are a great reminder that horses will always be horses lol

  7. I'mma vote that the antics are a baby horse thing based on my experiences! Griffin threw lots of opinionated shenanigans when he wasn't in front during his 4 year old year. It was HILARIOUS. He'd squeal and grunt and pound his front feet into the ground in a faux-crop hop with the most minor of back humping. Occasionally he'd crow hop all proper like, but even then, it was next to nothing. Move him forward into next-to-last position, he'd improve but sulk. Get him in front and his ears would go up and he'd really march. The noises were always my favorite though. I laughed and laughed at him every time which didn't please him greatly lol