bad pony

I think it’s safe to say spring is here, based solely on my pony’s behavior.  She was bad, bad, bad on Saturday.  Actually, I take that back.  The day started off somewhat inauspiciously when I went to collect her from the pasture and she wandered off to the far back corner.

She was actually pretty good under saddle, apart from offering the most half-a**ed, lazy canter ever.  And deliberately trying to bang my foot and/or stirrup into the railing several times.  And thinking that offering up several unasked-for flying lead changes might mean she finishes faster.

Sometimes I suspect I might have over-trained my pony, at least when it comes to anticipation and ringwork.

She was even good for working on her hooves afterwards.  After the past couple times of trimming, I’ve not been thrilled with her feet.  Nothing concrete I can pin down, just that they weren’t quite there.  I suspect I might have been getting a bit too enthusiastic with the bar and sole removal…again.  It’s a challenge, because her bars grow incredibly fast, and after her abscess a year and half ago, I’m paranoid about “stuff” getting trapped up in her sole again.

You’d think an abscess is the end of the world the way I keep going on about it.  But hey, give me a break.  That was the first abscess I’ve ever dealt with.

So this time, I took a very conservative, “If it can’t come off with nippers and a hoof pick, it’s staying in there” approach.  I also wonder too sometimes if I keep trimming her feet down to what I’m expecting they “should” be — Little Ms. Tiny Feet — instead of letting them grow and expand.  Because it wasn’t like she had excess flare to remove, or ridiculously high heels this time.

Once again, I forgot to take pics.  Fail.

But I was happier with how they looked this time.  A couple small chunks of loose sole came out with a nudge of the hoofpick, then I rasped her walls down, paying special attention to balance (I can balance better with a rasp than with nippers, I will say that) and putting a really good roll on her edges.

We’ll see what they look like in a week or so.

There’s always something to be learned about this hoof trimming thing, and just about the time you think you have it figured out, the horse goes and does something to change it up on you.

But onto the “Bad Pony” part: After we were all done, we wandered out into the trail course to do some groundwork.  I figured it would be fun to let her “play”: do a couple circles and hop over a low telephone pole.  She figured it would be more fun to eat.  That was Discussion One, which ended with me popping her in the butt with the end of the lead rope.

Not Happy.

Then we examined the pole.  Telephone pole, probably about a foot tall.  She could trip step over it in her sleep.  Examined it from both sides, then asked her to trot over it.  From one direction, she hopped over it twice, looking pleased with herself.

Reversed directions, trotted at it, and right at the base of it, slammed on the brakes and moved to wheel away.  She was blocked by the fence on one side and me on the other, and she’s finally learned that the consequences of running into me are far greater than whatever she’s trying to avoid.

So she backed up, then tried to wheel away.  Didn’t get anywhere.  Made her go at it again.  Repeat.  Never mind this is something low enough for her to step over from a standstill.  Backed her away from the whole thing and asked her to circle around her.  She shook her head.  I swung the lead rope at her.  She backed up a bit, pinned her ears, then hopped up in a little baby-rear a couple of times.

Well.

This used to be her favorite trick as a defiant, attitudinal youngster……about 12 or 13 years ago.  She’s a bossy, dominant mare who really hates the “submission” game.  I rarely ask for full submission, mostly because I’m much more into an active partnership type of relationship in which both of us are committed to working together, versus one in which I control every second, every footfall, every thought.  Quite frankly, I want a horse with an independent mind and ability to think for themselves and make smart decisions. (“No, you idiot, you just tried to steer us over a cliff” comes to mind…)

But I won’t tolerate that kind of blatant disrespect.  When it comes right down to it, I am the herd leader and I will act on it.

So I popped her on the nose with the leadrope.  I don’t advocate aiming at the head in most situations…but she’s dominant enough to need an immediate I Mean Business wake-up call.  It worked: she moved away from me, did a couple of circles, then hopped over the log.

And we ended it there on a good note.

I was kind of shocked, and I think she was, too.  It’s been years since we’ve had that big of a disciplinary blow-up and subsequent schooling session.  Guess it just goes to show that horses aren’t static creatures who properly stay within the mold we try to craft them into.  And they’re all capable of reverting back to temporary “Problem Child” status.

And I think we’ll avoid doing too much inflammatory groundwork while it’s spring and she’s in a Mood.

Someone please remind me why I like mares.

4 thoughts on “bad pony

  1. I think you already listed the reasons to like mares: smart!, thinking, independent, and when they work FOR you, they can't be beat. They will give their all. It's nice hearing another person who likes a horse with some decision skills to partner with, rather than just takes orders. It's a real virtue when riding our rough mountain areas, so you don't worry about getting yourself 'lost' because you know your horse can get you 'un-lost' when riding off trail in the wilderness. I'm lucky; the last week of Aug – first two weeks of Sept. are my mare's temper time.
    Bionic Cowgirl

  2. This is so true. The caretaker aspect of all of the good mares I've known and ridden more than make up for the couple months or so where they're a little more *interesting* to be around.

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