WHY Do I Find a Problem with Her?
Tango, my riding horse, and as some of you already know, is...ridiculously hot-headed. Not in the insane, bucking, rearing sense; she just wants to RUN RUN RUN. Since we put a stronger bit in she's slowed down a little and actually listened to it and me, but she still just wants to go. Desperately. Having said that, she is the opposite of a spooky, disrespectful idiot. You would be extremely hard-pressed to scare this horse, and she doesn't bolt (anymore, though she does get strong), rear or buck, even when she gets pissy or frustrated. Her ground manners are impeccable. She doesn't kick, bite, nip, or even pin an ear at you on the ground. She'll follow you over and through anything. Despite some shoeing difficulties, she stands and allows her feet to be handled and she's fine with you touching any part of her. Now that you have a picture of her, I'll explain our current predicament:
So I hate arena work. I stand it for our once-weekly lessons, not only because she's really good at the lesson barn, but because it's easier to learn in an arena. I think she hates it too. It's boring-for both of us-to just go around in circles and not see anything new. We both enjoy gaming, but around home really all we have that we both find interesting is trail riding. For the longest time I wouldn't take her out because I didn't trust what she might do out all alone on the trails, and then finally today I got bored fighting her in our field/arena and took her into the neighbouring hayfield. She was anxious and trying to go faster in the direction of home so there was no way I was taking her back like that and so I made her go out farther. And all the way I kept saying: "Hey, we're this far, we might as well go farther." We went in a massive arc around our place, at least 10 miles, and all the way her head was up, ears forwards, and pounding her little legs off as fast as she could go in a walk. Well, a couple times she was slow and relaxed, but not much.
The only two times she spooked in that entire hour and a half was 1) a drainage ditch suddenly emerged out of the grasses and 2) a massive tree stump half-covered by grasses. Both times was nothing more than looking sideways and shying a couple steps to the side-it wasn't like she turned and bolted for home. She got pissy and tried to fight me on occasion; her ears would be back and her tail lashing, but she always gave in to me, however grudgingly, and she never bucked or reared with me, no matter how angry I made her. We even passed another field of horses and all she did was look interestedly at them. She was SO good, and I talked kindly to her and praised her (not enough, I think) and gave her a loose rein as long as she kept at a fair paced walk that wasn't ridiculously fast.
Yet, I'm pretty sure I was a big b*tch to her. I snarled at her and pulled her back pretty forcefully when we got home and she just wanted to run again, I scolded her (not physically, obviously, just growled) when she kept whinnying, and though occasionally she tried to speed up on the trail into trot without my cue, I wasn't unreasonable, just eased her down.
I already knew she was an awesome trail horse but I've never had her out alone, or successfully ridden out from home before. She was so good. Her only faults were actually my fault (for not keeping her attention on me, though cut me some slack, we couldn't exactly move off a straight line without trampling crops or go too fast without tripping on the uneven ground). Though she desperately wanted to go home she never made an excuse to ditch me and take off, or tried to throw me, or spooked at idiotic things, or completely ignored me. She was SO good, and yet...all I can think of when I see her is how fast and strong and stubborn and willful she is, and how difficult it is to deal with all that. All I can see is her faults, despite the many many MANY positive aspects she has to her.
My dad can't believe I'm anything less than overjoyed with her. I am happy with her, and I KNOW I'm so lucky to have her, but I can't believe how ungrateful I am. I mean, I guess I could do endurance races with her =P Maybe that would tire her out. What do you think? Am I being a fool for hating her go-ness? Do you think just lots of rides like today's would mellow her out? Though keep in mind yesterday we had a big horse show that tired her out so thoroughly, and when I rode this morning she was all spry and ready to gallop again. Not much tires this mare.
It isn't such a terrible thing to not enjoy a horse that is so hard to ride. I have a horse that is almost exactly like that and though he is my baby and will live with me until the day he dies, I don't ride him unless I have no other options. To me, riding him loses its enjoyment quickly and becomes a chore because it takes so much work just to keep him under control. It isn't about getting her tired, if she is anything like Denny, working her butt off won't change that attitude. I have had success with other horses doing lots of one-rein stops when they start getting chargy and I have heard that other people have success with that too but for some reason, none of what I have ever tried has worked with Denny.
It is hard not to get frustrated with a horse like that and when you are frustrated, it is hard to see the good things about them. Just try to take a deep breath and remember that it isn't their fault that they act like that, it is the training that they have recieved in their lives that makes them behave that way.
I don't see anything wrong with getting frustrated with that either. In fact, Soda is quite a bit like that. I've been working with him to determine if it is just "how he is" or if it has more to do with barn sourness, insecurity away from home, etc.
With him it does seem to be a barn sour issue or strange place problem. Don't really have the issue on property or when we ride with horses he knows. I feel your pain though if this is just her personality, there have been times I've almost cried at the end of a two hour ride that consisted of : trot-trot-trot, try to run try to run, lurch, lurch, lurch, *rein down to walk* fight to keep him at a walk. He was covered head to toe in foamy sweat and STILL wanted to go-go-go.
I'm just glad that he appears to be getting better with continued riding. After him having a year and a half off I was starting to wonder what the heck I got myself into! Maybe your mare just needs repeated rides like that and she'll calm down?
Hmm...smrobs, I think you exactly said it: Riding looses its enjoyment quickly because she's hard to control. I do enjoy riding...it just is...frustrating. And I still don't know if working hard will change her attitude, because at the show when she was tired out she was awesome, but that also may be just because she was at the farm we go for lessons and where she's used to working and not being an idiot. Then again, when we got her last year she was as quiet as a lamb because the trainer had worked her hard every day, and taken her on long overnight trail rides to national parks and whatnot. I mean, she most always slows right down when you tell her to, but then as soon as you release she tries to speed up again. Unfortunately, she's the only broke riding horse I do have so I can't really just not ride her.. Well, I could, but that would mean no riding at all for me, and then she'd be even crazier when I finally did get her out.
At least she slows down easily... (silver lining, right?) Do you have anyone else to ride with? That *might* slow her down a little bit, as I said it does help with Soda. Then you can alternate enjoyable and frustrating rides like the rest of us. :D
Mmhmm. She slows down...for a few seconds, lol ;) I really wanted to buy an old, plodding slow trail horse to go with that will keep her chill, but no way. I don't have the money and we have way too many horses that no one uses at our place anyways >= ( Besides, it would just be plain insolent to ask for my parents to buy me another horse when I don't even fully enjoy this one. The people with riding horses here are few and far between, and mostly just too darn lazy to find time to go with me >=P
Can you pony a horse along? I've thought about doing that w/ Soda, but my old girl is too old to ride or pony... Of course, if you had to ride her and pony the other horse that might be a recipe for disaster...
Exactly. I could pony Lily, my sister's 2YO filly, but having one high-strung horse pony an inexperienced, never off the property baby is probably not the best thing to do.
Nope, definitely a bad idea. Not sure if you said this, but is she just as high strung during your lessons?
No, that's the thing! She's still eager, but she's very easy to handle in lessons. My instructor says it's because she's been trailered over to the farm all winter and is used to getting there and settling down and working, and since I didn't ride in the winter here, working at home is a new and foreign concept. I'd like to just have lessons here, but I think it's a bit too out of the way for my instructor to drive here every week.
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