Lacey has started doing this thing (which I personally kind of find hilarious) where, if I (while I'm on her back) make her go somewhere she doesn't want to go, she'll go but she will pin her ears like nobodies business. She'll do whatever I'm asking but she will be giving me the stinkiest stink eye ever.
She used to stop and back up when I asked her to do stuff she didn't want to do, so this is definite improvement. However, I really would prefer that she not pin her ears. Especially since today she escalated from just ear pinning to pinning her ears AND snaking her neck off to the side. She wasn't trying to "get" me or anything (and if she had been, I would have just kicked her in the face), she was just demonstrating her dislike of what I was asking her.
I don't so much mind just the ear pinning, but the fact that she's escalating the behavior is a little worrisome and leads me to think that maybe I need to do something vs just laughing at her and making her do whatever anyway.
I would be inclined to think that she doesn't respect me from this behavior since subordinates don't pin their ears at the dominant horses, right?
But, she's very respectful of me on the ground. She waits for me to set her grain down and waits until I allow her to go eat, no barging past me to eat or anything. She's not a HUGE fan of being caught but her way of saying "I don't want to be caught" involves her sniffing me+the halter, then backing up and walking off a step or two, then letting me catch her without a fuss. She doesn't barge past me when I'm leading her, she stops when I stop (when I'm leading her), she backs up easily, she ties and respects my "rules" involving what is and is not allowed while tied, she is a little balky about being led places she doesn't want to go but I always make sure that I "win"...
I can say though, that from the saddle, I give her a lot more leeway to make decisions. I do tend to think of me+the ground="my world, my rules" and me+in the saddle="Lacey's world, my rules+Lacey's desires".
I don't want her to be all bottled up and scared to "share" her feelings with me because she's one of those "bottle it up, then explode like a volcano" types of horses and I've had enough of her blowups to last me for forever. BUT, I don't want her to be getting too cocky like it seems like she's getting to be right now.
I did kind of push her to her limit today (probably why she did the neck snaking) but the ear pinning has been going on for at least 3 months.
Maybe I'm going about this wrong. It's probably a "me" problem. Maybe I need to work on being more fun. However, I really have no idea what Lacey thinks of as fun undersaddle. She loves galloping (we do that), she loves finding new trails and taking them (can't really do that currently), she loves chasing animals (we do that rarely because the only animals to chase are the llamas in her pasture and her pasture is very muddy right now), and she loves seeing other horses (no other horses around)... Maybe I should try doing more fun things with her on the ground... But what? I'm currently clicker training her, which she loves... She also adores being lunged (she actually nickers for the lunge line) but it's so muddy out and in the last year, she's fallen fully down probably three times due to stepping in a spot that was just a little too muddy. Since I don't want her getting hurt, I haven't lunged her in over 4 months.
I don't know. I want her to be happy and communicative with me but I really don't want to, by ignoring, end up nurturing a behavior that could turn dangerous...
I will say though, completely fluffy ears pinned flat back on the fluffy face of this wise-looking, snuggly bear-like, Arabian is probably the funniest thing I have ever seen.
It's like "I iz adorable poneh. FEAR ME!!!!!!"
Basically, my question is: do I continue what I'm doing or do I try something else? If I should try something else, what?
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