Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Even cute, smart colts have bad days!

Well, the honeymoon is over! I have been admiring Rodeo for how smart and sweet he is, but I finally got a taste of what a bad day with him can be like. I don't know if it's because he is losing his fear of me and is now testing his boundaries, or if he was just really fired up on Monday, but I suspect it is a little of both. I think he may have been cooped up in the round pen for a while before I arrived, and he galloped the entire way across the pasture (sore feet and all) when I released him, so I do know that he was fired up.

The only question now is whether the pushy behavior was due to his mood, or something he is genuinely trying on for size.

He was being quite pushy on Monday, and my sister-in-law commented that he is getting an attitude. (I suspect that this may be partly because they are letting him get away with it...) I knew we were going to have trouble almost right away, when he bulldozed past me on the way across the round pen to get his halter. Forgetting for a moment that he wasn't Panama, I growled and smacked him (not hard) on the side, something I haven't done with him before. He ran past me, spun, and made a great show of kicking the air a short distance away from me. He wasn't trying to kick me, but he was letting me know that he was upset about being smacked.

Unfortunately, I didn't have anything in my hand to deal with that behavior properly, so he more or less got away with it. By the time I located a dirt clod to throw at him, too much time had passed and he was trying to stand on top of me, thinking the dirt clod was a treat.

In retrospect, I probably should have fed it to him.

We worked on a few things on Monday, switching back and forth to give him mental breaks. We worked on:

- Haltering without throwing his head up high, as he is prone to doing — not truly fighting me, just being difficult

- Backing out of my space when asked, not trying to block me with his body, etc.

- Walking next to me when led, but allowing for personal space (he is trying to walk on top of me)

- Not mouthing or reaching for treats, but waiting for me to bring the treat to him

- Not pawing when he gets impatient or frustrated

- Picking up his front feet when asked without stepping back first — he's having to figure out how to balance on three feet, but I want him to learn to shift his balance in place!

He was being too unpredictable and pushy, so I didn't try anything with his back feet. I'm hoping he was just having a bad day and will be better next time, and we can work on it then. I am, however, expecting that he may try some of the same stuff with me next time, to test me — our progress on Monday was shaky, as every time I thought I'd fixed something, he would revert back and test me some more. I was more or less pleased with his behavior by the time we finished, but I know better than to think I cured all of the bad behavior in one session!



At September 8, 2010 at 2:50 PM, Blogger JennyB said...

Our four have been a little strange lately too but I attributed it to the weather starting to change a bit. Sometimes they're just off for reasons only they can understand! I'm sure he'll get better again with some practice =)

~~ JennyB, Horsefeathers

At September 8, 2010 at 3:00 PM, Blogger Sydney_bitless said...

It's the weather I am telling ya. Today Indigo wouldn't travel in a strait line when cantering and was being a total ass about side passing to the left, which shes very good at. She sidepassed to the right like a champ but left, oooh no there was something worth trying to look at and having a brick wall for a side. If she keeps it up shes gonna get her butt in trouble.

At September 9, 2010 at 7:26 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Jenny, Sydney, whatever it is -- it was temporary! We had a great day today, and got 2 feet trimmed. I'll post about it here shortly, so be sure to check my blog. :o)


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