Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Attitude adjustment

I somehow had gotten a day behind in my blog posts, but I wanted to post about this today, so I'm pushing back the next Mesa Verde post until tomorrow.

Today was the first time I've turned around on a trail ride and gone home due to Panama's behavior. One other rider was having similar issues, so we went back and the other two went on without us.

It was a cool morning, only about 60 degrees, and it had rained overnight and this morning. The horses were feeling frisky because of the cooler weather, I think, plus the mosquitoes were really active. I think Panama was also on edge because the other horse who was acting up was our usual lead horse, and we were right behind him. Every time Shadoman jigged in front of us, Panama tensed up and I could feel his anxiety level ratchet up a few more notches.

So Shadoman's owner and I decided to turn back while the other two riders continued on. There was a lot of jigging at first on the way back, too, but I asked if it would be okay if Panama led. Once he was in front, and could no longer see Shadoman jigging, Panama calmed right down. I think we probably could have continued on if we had led, but it's okay that we came back, as it gave me an opportunity to show him what happens when he misbehaves on the trail.

As soon as we got back, we headed straight for the arena. Panama's head was sky high, and Shadoman was still jigging a bit. I asked Panama to trot and kept reminding him to focus on me. After a while, his head began to drop, and sure enough, I noticed then that Shadoman was relaxing too. The two of them had obviously been feeding off one another's anxiety levels. Panama and I were able to get some good cantering in, and by the time the others came back to the barn, he was acting like his normal, happy self again.

I probably should have taken him back out with someone for a little while, to reinforce the idea of behaving himself on the trail, but it wasn't until I'd dismounted and started untacking him that I even realized Zans's owner would have gone with me. Oh well. I am pleased with our successful attitude adjustment, and I think (or at least I hope) that he got the idea: Bad behavior takes work!

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2 Comments:

At July 8, 2010 at 5:30 AM, Blogger Kate said...

Sounds like he may have been feeding off the other horse's nervousness - that can happen, particularly with a younger horse (well, with older ones too).

 
At July 8, 2010 at 10:14 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Yeah, I think he was too, Kate. I hate feeling like I'm blaming it on another horse, but he certainly seemed to be picking up on Shadoman's nervousness. It's happened before, just not this bad. All's well that ends well, though -- I am pleased at how it all turned out!

 

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