Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ahh, young thoroughbreds in the fall.

In stark contrast to her fantastic behaviour for our photoshoot, Lucy has been an absolute nutcase this week!

So tell me, Thoroughbred lovers and owners: when do I get to look forward to some consistency?!

Her new fun game is Spooking At Things That Have Been There All Summer. She plays this while we're riding in the outdoor ring, because with the leaves falling off the trees, she can now see lots of **very** scary things in the bushes, like hoses and a fallen basketball hoop. My ride on Monday was a tad bit scary to the point where I actually got off and lunged her in her three hot spots, which I NEVER do. I usually prefer to ride it out because I find her easier to control from the saddle than the ground, but there was one big spook where I actually thought I was going over her shoulder. A last chance attempt at jamming some weight into my heels and picking up her face did the trick and I managed to stay aboard, but sheesh!!! I would prefer not to get broken right now, TYVM.

Lunging did the trick and she even started to relax and stretch in the three areas of doom. I hopped back on and we trotted once around without spooking at anything and called it a day!

I was exhausted on Tuesday so I didn't ride but instead went straight for the lunging. This time I also pulled out the side reins but left them off for the first twenty or so minutes while she warmed up. It was the same routine: spook, run, cavort, try to pull back, go forward, rinse and repeat! but after those first twenty minutes she got over herself and did some nice work though she was quite fresh towards me (more on that below). I praised her and hooked up the side reins on the very loosest setting and sent her out again, and we actually got stretching! into the contact! it's a miracle!!

Anyway, about the freshness (and I'm sure you're all shocked at this. Lucy? FRESH?! nooooo, never!) :

A couple of times while I was lunging her without the side reins, she pinned her ears, turned her head in to look at me, and came closer. I took this as a direct challenge. At first I didn't know quite what to do but I do not want another horse who thinks it's cool to run at you (been there, done that with a 17.2hh TB who ran anyone over who came into his paddock...not fun!) so I flicked the lunge line at her haunches, to which she responded by shooting forward.

The next time she did it, I got pissed at her. I mean, come on Lucy. Don't be mean. So I threw the extra lunge line at her shoulder. I didn't really need her to go anymore forward, but she did need to stay out and stop threatening me. She responded to this by spinning her butt outward and trying to back up to get away. I held on tightly and flicked the line at her rear to get her going again, which she did.

She did it once more and I did the same thing again but more firmly with a little bit of verbal backup.

When I was walking her out we did a lot of work on the ground, where I made it very clear that she was not to be in my space no matter what. If I walked sideways into her, she better hurry her little fuzzy butt sideways to get out of the space that was now mine.

She's already tough enough to deal with, without having to worry about a major attitude problem and a taste for blood. She has also started getting really fresh on the crossties and has even tried to bite me. I have NO tolerance for this but I am torn at what to do to correct it, since she's tied and I don't want to teach her to fly forward and break the cross ties. She doesn't currently know she can do this and the few times she's spooked while crosstied, she has stopped immediately when she felt the pressure from them. I could detach them and then discipline her, but I am not sure that the point would get to her when there is that delay. I don't think it's fair to smack her when she is tied, though. It's asking for a big incident.


  1. Driving her away with a challenge like that is absolutely the right thing to do. She's challenging your place in the herd, and you must be alpha to her no matter what. Make her work a little harder and move her body away from you. Bingo. You've got that one. You can translate this into the play time you give her before or after your rides, too -- chase her a bit to get her to move away from you, then when she's licking and chewing, release the pressure for her to move away, drop your head and shoulder slightly and ask her to come toward you.

    As for the biting, I'm not a fan of hitting in the face - but the only cure I've found for the occasional nipper, and/or hard-core biter, is to get them in the mouth before they get you. I try to make sure I am coming at them from underneath their mouth so they can't see my hand and associate the smack of their teeth, or even biting of their tongue, if they're dumb, lol - with anything that has to do with me.

    Ideally, you want that thought of nipping you to cross her mind, feel a sudden smack or light punch under her mouth that shocks her and makes her go, hey wait, what the heck was that? She'll try it a couple more times to be sure, and if she gets the same response each time, she ought to give up.

  2. Promise, thanks so much for the great advice. I'm glad I'm on the right track! I will keep that in mind about the smack on the lips, that would probably work well with her.

  3. Any chance she could get more turnout? That always takes the edge off for my girl, even if it's just 20 or 30 minutes a day.

  4. turnout at my barn is the only aspect I am not in love with. the paddocks are small and though the horses go out 7:30ish-4, I don't think it's possible for her to get real exercise in a little pen.


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