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Jet is a 17 year old, black, Tennessee Walker mare
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the first time in a long time, my mare really acted up today. Everything was the same except that there was another horse, rider, and 3, other people in the arena with us.

There was one corner where I could NOT get her to turn with a nice, yielding flex. If I let up on the reins, she would move into a running walk. Since we're in an arena and working on balance and being supple, I always ask for a collected walk. Usually, she is fine with that and gives me a nice, easy-going but collected walk.

Not today. She was not with me.

I was ready to chalk it up to an off day, but, after the riding lesson, I took her bridle off and walked her in hand to cool down. She yawned a few times, so now I'm wondering if I was too heavy on the bit.

I ride her in a D ring snaffle with copper rollers. I use leg and weight cues to ask for turns- using reins to check her speed and help support her flex. Usually, she does fine and is really responsive.

Not today.

What do yall think? Was this an off day or am I heavier with my hands than I think I am? And of course there's always the possibility that something medical is popping up. She acted normal up until the second half of the riding session and after it (except for the yawning)- so I dont think it's medical, but I could be wrong.

I know it's hard to tell without a video, too. Bleh.

Here she is being cute and looking for treats 馃グ
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I think it is very difficult if not impossible to say without seeing the whole thing go down and even then it isn鈥檛 straight forward. It may have nothing to do with her mouth either. If it is medical it could be pain somewhere else that was making her reluctant to bend.

See how she goes the next time you ride. Also, try hand walking her to that corner, see if there is a reaction.
 

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Honestly, my otherwise really quiet (almost asleep) school mount mare can lose the plot if another horse, maybe one she doesn鈥檛 know, walks into the arena. Yesterday I had to quit my class earlier because our arena is used by a local equine vet, who walked in with a fire breathing dragon and my horse was like 鈥渘ah nah, ain鈥檛 going anywhere near that thing鈥. It could be that she was distracted and a bit tense?
 

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Since you say this was a 1 time thing, I'd be tempted to say it's just an off day and give her the benefit of the doubt. I know that if I'm in an arena with different horse and riders than we're used to my mare can become a little 'less than' and a little more dramatic than normal. Wait until you can test out how she is in an empty arena and see if she rides normally and, as someone else suggested, take her for walk past that corner and ask her to do something from the ground and see how she is. Keep an eye on her body reactions when you're grooming, see if she has any tender spots or next time you ride, see if her mouth seems tender. Just watch and listen, if there's really an issue, she'll let you know.
 

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First, she's adorable.
Second, if not turning with a nice flexion and going into running walk is "really acting up" then count your blessings, lol! No bucking, rearing, bolting, spinning out from under you, etc. I consider those things "really acting up." What you experienced sounds like a horse who was distracted and not listening to your aids as well as she normally does in one corner of the arena due to the distractions.

I wouldn't obsess over this. Horses are horses and they have days just like we do. It could be that the other horses and people in the arena were enough to distract her from her job. Or maybe there was something about that corner on that day that had her a little spooky and made her want to hurry past it instead of bend and listen?

Chalk it up to a horse being a horse day and get on next time without any expectation that she'll be anything but perfect. She probably will be fine. If she's not and that corner continues to present problems, make sure it's not the corner itself that's the issue. Was something moved around near that area that might be spooking her? Sunlight causing a different shadow? Something flapping or making a sound? If all is normal and unchanged in the corner, maybe it's time to look elsewhere. But a horse who is in pain or irritated by a rider's heavy-handedness usually isn't going to act up in one specific spot of the arena. Unless...maybe the footing changes there?

Anyway, don't worry too much. It doesn't sound like a huge issue and probably won't be one at all on your next ride. Just try not to let yourself expect her to give you issues in that corner. If you go into it expecting her to be resistant and repeat the behavior from your last ride, you might inadvertently cause the problem to happen again. Assume that she'll be great and she'll probably live up to that expectation.
 

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Horses yawn when they're releasing tension -- any kind of tension. I wouldn't assume it was from the bit; sounds like she was just having an anxious, distracted day.
Yes both mares, one bitted one bitless, in the hands of my coach obviously, both yawn so much when they feel her butter hands. With me, in the beginning... nah lol. They would yawn once I was off so I'd say this is a safe assumption 馃槄 In a month alone between both my mares we have at least a few off days, physically, mentally, when in season, after firework night etc. Also I find upon reflection that even if I'm slightly off it affects their way of going. They can hear our hearts and know if we're tired or distracted. A blessing... and a curse. Mostly a blessing. My first mare is extremely sensitive to my physical and emotional state. My second mare is like my rock, unfazed until we're ridden but that's a different thing altogether. Another mare I ride is very nearly bombproof (and not shut down, she's just so reliable). You're OK just keep an eye on it. And yes, don't expect anything just take it as it comes. It's so hard in practice even on a regular day!
 

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I totallly agree with the above posters; your mare was probably distracted. was that corner the one farthest away from where the other horse was? often times when people think 'my horse doesn't want to go into that corner', it's really that the hrose is trying to get back to facing toward the place it WANTS to be, as fast as possible. It's not avoiding the corner so much as rushing back to a position it desperately wants to be in.
Also, if your horse is fighting your hands, you have two choices, in my mind; you can ease up and try to see what this is all about. Or, you can become firm enough that she MUST respond, and earn her release. thus, SHE determines how much bit pressure she gets. but, if you do a half way thing. like hanging on her mouth enough that she doesn't get 'her' way, but not enough that she softens and respects the bit, then you build in resentment and hardness in the horse.
I suspect this is a one time deal , too, and that your hands are NOT hard, and you want very much to have that soft relationship with her. And, she is deadly cute!!!
 

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Jet is a 17 year old, black, Tennessee Walker mare
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for all the replies, reassurances, and advice, everyone. I feel better.

I hosted Thanksgiving, so this is the first chance I've had to actually type out a response.

I'm going to keep your suggestions and comments in mind and follow them as needed the next time we ride.

Jet is simply an amazing horse, and I'm lucky to have her.
 

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I don鈥檛 worry about one off day, unless it were dramatic and a horse was bound and determined to kill me. Lol. In turn, I think most horses I ride also forgive me of my off days.

There are days with Cashman that I am cranky, and he ignores my attitude, and there are days he is cranky and spooky and I ignore him. I consider it a favor we do for one another.

Other horses, like Bones, tend to overreact to my own bad days, and drag out a grudge for a week. So, it doesn鈥檛 always go both ways. Same is true of me I guess, for if something actually gets under my skin I can hold that worry for a couple rides myself, although I try not to.
 

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I agree with all of the other posters.

During one of my previous lessons, my mare was super distracted and spooky passing the arena door because BO was doing some work with the tractor outside. She was much heavier in my hands than usual, and it took a lot to get her back into focus. She was distracted and her brain was working in overdrive.

When the lesson ended, she yawned probably 10 times in a row.
 
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