Rain, rain, go away, come again anoth- just kidding, don’t come back at all. I’m not sure how the weather is where you live, but we’ve had nothing but rain for days! It’s actually been a huge setback for Cash and I. I finally felt like we were getting somewhere…he was doing better leaving the steer and riding alone on the trails. The last few days he’s been cooped up in the barn because it’s too wet to be in the pasture or ride.
Tonight, I noticed his hind ankles were looking a little more swollen. Cash has been getting stocked up and puffy from lack of exercise. After I finished my routine of feeding, stall cleaning, and grooming, I decided to take him on a short walk to stretch his legs. Apparently, he didn’t think it was as great of an idea as I did! I expected him to be somewhat antsy after being stuck in his stall, but he was downright prancy!
Cash repeatedly broke into a trot to get ahead of me so he could turn back to the barn. He was giving some major attitude. I decided to ignore it and continue on. I walked him to the back side of my parents’ pond where there was a little more room to work. He would hear the steer bellowing for him and stop to whinny back. I struggled to keep his attention.
Once Cash realized I was not going to let him go back to the barn just yet, his new plan was to eat grass. I pulled his head up a few times and reminded him we are working. About the fourth time he dropped to graze, I reached down to pull his head up and he attempted to rear! Of course my reaction was to yank down on the lead rope to regain control. Honestly, it shocked me because he has NEVER behaved so badly! For a second, I contemplated returning him to the barn, but quickly pushed that thought aside. I have been intimidated by horses before, and learned avoidance only makes things worse. Instead, I scolded him, making him fully aware his little stunt would certainly not get him out of work. Inwardly, I tried to keep my cool. I was mad at his behavior, and slightly afraid he would try it again and escalate.
I continued to walk him in long, large circles. Cash constantly stopped to look at the barn. He tried to grab a bite of grass a few more times, but there wasn’t any fit throwing when I pulled his head up. I thought we had worked past whatever his malfunction was, only for him to attempt rearing for a second time! He was determined that he was going to graze and was not happy that I, again, tugged on the lead rope. This time he jumped more. My emotions sort of took over…but instead of fear, I was pissed. I’ve learned yelling gets you nowhere, but a stern look and a firm tone will go far. I told Cash that this behavior was completely unacceptable, and that we would now work longer.
Now, I know you’re thinking I’m the crazy one…talking to my horse and all…but it really does feel like he understands! He might not know all the words, but that stern look and firm tone, he understands that!
I walked Cash a little longer, praising him when he demonstrated good behavior. It was only then did I decide he could return to the barn. The walk up from behind the pond is a long narrow strip between the pond and a pasture fence. He tends to act up in this area knowing that there is limited space for me to correct him. I started to doubt whether we could survive the walk without any tantrums. I decided that “it wasn’t a thing”, since that attitude has worked well in the past. I also warned Cash that we would turn around at the first fit he threw. He seemed to understand. That, or I managed to successfully convince him that I couldn’t be intimidated in the slightest. At that point, I no longer cared why he behaved, I was just happy we had an uneventful walk back to the barn.
I re-brushed him and removed his halter, giving him lots of love. I decided to skip the treats, but I think it’s still important to praise horses regardless of how they behaved earlier. I’m a firm believer in positive reinforcement. I’m also still human and was not in the mood to be generous with treats like I usually am.
Loved you yesterday, love you still, always have and I always will.
If this rain keeps up, I’ll have to start considering trailering him to a nearby indoor arena to work in. It’s crazy to me that he is misbehaving so much lately, but he’s also getting a lot less ride time due to the restrictive weather. My new plan is to take him on walks nightly, provided it’s not pouring. Mud and wet ground will no longer be a sufficient excuse to skip leaving the stall. I have tomorrow off, so it will be interesting how it goes.
Until next time,