Sunday, January 23, 2011

What could make a boy behave this way?

This afternoon when I got to the barn it was 21 degrees and sunny with about a 12 mph wind. I didn't plan on riding, but Pie was super calm during our hand walking, grazing, and grooming session, so I tacked him up.

As we started out around behind the barn and tennis court I was thinking about my last ride and my post about discovering that observing some basic equitation rules helped me out of a tight spot. When I was riding today I started laughing thinking that my post makes it seem like I usually ride without sitting tight or having nice hand/leg positions. But, today, I was aware that I ride differently depending on what the horse is doing under me.

This afternoon, for example, the wind was blowing from the west into our faces. Pie was walking out looking and waiting for anything to tell him that there was danger. In this situation, I have to almost pretend like I am a relaxed sack of potatoes on his back. At the beginning of our rides, I have to use my body to tell him that there is zero to worry about. It sets the tenor for the rest of the ride. If I would sit tall and grip at all with my legs and keep my reins taut, it would be certain disaster! He would "hear" that as a sign that I am prepared for danger and he would prepare himself too. Instead, I lean forward and pat him a lot, giving him his head and reins even though I really have them if I need them. I practice balance in case of a spook, but I am not gripping with my legs at all. It is all a great big lie on my part, but it worked like a charm today. He happily walked into the wind and through our woods and trails. He was so relaxed. He sure didn't seem like a 5 year old Thoroughbred on a chilly, windy day.

We made it out around the field and to his yummy barstool apples. He knocked them onto the ground and then couldn't seem to find them, I guess because they were extremely cold/frozen. I could not believe I was going to have to dismount since we are having mounting difficulties lately! But, I did get off and fed him his lovely snacks.

Here is the barstool. I figured I would take a photo of it and just sort of play around so that Pie would not get worked up and I could re-mount. I focused on breathing out and not worrying about mounting. I decided that we would take our time and he could whip his butt around as much as he wanted. We would just keep trying. We only turned around three times, and then he stood perfectly well. Good boy!
Next, he wanted to go toward the south woods. I decided that we were going to head back to our barn instead. Pie was so willing and wonderful the whole way back. Just as we were entering the driveway to my uncle's barn I started to notice zillions of tiny paw prints. I know they belong to the fox that we have been seeing every time we ride. There were so many prints and I was momentarily lost in thought when something happened. I still don't know what it was but Pie jumped and reared. I lost a stirrup and he kept on doing the half-rear/buck thing he is so fond of so I grabbed his mane and found my stirrup. He was very worked up but I got him back and we walked down and around the honeysuckle bushes. It made me mad that we were almost home because I didn't want to end on such a sour note. I circled him around the farmhouse and barn and he investigated the fire pit again so I figured he was fairly relaxed. All in all, it was a WAY better ride than Thursday's. Pie's behaviour during 90% of our ride today was as good as if it was a warm, spring day. I am very pleased!


  1. Who knows. Sometimes I think 5 year olds live in their own world.


    PS: I appreciate the award but I don't have the time to do what's necessary, but thanks any way.

  2. Perhaps something related to the fox? If only they could tell us, we could prepare and help them through it the next time. Sounds like a lovely ride otherwise, your photos make it look misty and magical!

  3. Sounds like a spook - scary nonetheless - glad things worked out OK.

  4. Great job keeping your boy calm and sitting out the foolishness :)

  5. I'm just catching up on your last two posts. You've had some great but interesting rides! I'm so impressed with your feel. The years with Doc (did I read that in a linked post on things about you?) must have been a great learning experience, but you have a tremendous natural gift too. Taking a 5 year old Thoroughbred out on unfamiliar trails in the cold and knowing just how to calm him by being relaxed is so cool. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these posts and links. You're a very good writer and your descriptions are so entertaining: Pie's confident, kind assurance until things go wrong :), your sappy, messy aids until you really have to mean it :)
    I sit here and laugh and can see it all :)
    Thanks for the award! Very nice.

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Carol - What a sweet comment to wake up to this morning. I had to laugh because last night I told my husband that I was thinking how difficult it is for me to write. I get hung up writing because my brain thinks in images - not words. I could paint my ideas way easier than using words.

  7. This is exactly what I'm worried about when I think about starting my mare. My gelding has been so easy, with only a few dirty spooks here and there, but she's going to be a different story. I'm anticipating many rides where I ride out and walk back in (hopefully with her and not a mile behind her).

    Your post and the one before it are good reminders to keep your mind on the horse and your equitation spot on when dealing with spooky youngsters. You never know what they're going to do.

  8. Oh boy! Bill always says when we are trail riding: it ain't over til it's over! Even at the very last minute something can go crazy! I should be more careful really because sometimes I am just chit chatting away, not really paying attention and anything can happen in the blink of an eye! I am glad you didn't let it wreck your attitude! Such quick thinking to grab the mane and retrieve your stirrup! Really Juliette, you are a natural. That is what you call grace under pressure. me? I would have just started screaming or soemthing equally unhelpful. Rearing is even more scary than a buck, I think. Good for you for getting everyone back to normal. You are my hero!

  9. Juliette, What an exciting ride you had! You did great regrouping and getting back to riding calmly after the spook. The last time Buckshot did a big spook, my legs were instantly shaking, but I thought we were all right, so I started saying out loud, "Okay, we're alright now, we're alright now..." in a squeaky, "not-very-all-right voice, making myself breathe in and out, until it passed. LOL! You handled an even bigger spook much better! I'm glad Pie then calmed down as well. Good job, really, to both of you!

  10. Hiya sweets!
    I'm so delighted to have the time and energies to catch up with you finally! We have had sun for more than 2 days in a row and my body-a-likes-it!

    Man, we must be secret sisters Jules...I got to go out and ride was a goodie ride..and I can't wait to post on it too..but anywho, YOU totally wrote down my thoughts in this post! I am soo cracking up here.

    With the exeption of one thing...I am planning on riding with the rein contact and leg taunt -MORE- because I am ever trying to figure out how to keep things sane and my thinking is, if I only ride with taunt leg and rein in the faster times and worried times...that is the action for reaction I have taught to Washashe...taunt and reactive ready for flight and speed when the reins get drawn up.
    You see where I am going?(if ya don't you can wait for the post!)It's just a therory.
    I tried it out yeasterday and will continue, as it was excellent and thrilling.

    Your Pie...I think little foxy fox was still near and Pie heard him! Glad you did not eat some snow.
    Off to read your others missed by me-posts!

  11. First off.. I like your rendering of the Stylish Blogger award :)!!!
    2nd-Happy belated Birthday!
    3rd-the TB mind is so different every day. Every.Day. Part of their survival I'm thinking. Laz is always the first to react... overreact? ;)
    Maybe Pie smelled something that caused his body to react so quickly as if "I MUST RUN!"
    They allow us to ride on their backs, I guess we have to deal with their reactions that happen first. It's a constant dance as you've told me, I'm sure. Some are good ones and some we get our toes stepped on. I hope your next ride is great!


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