Thursday, July 29, 2010

Naughty, Naughty, Mare...

I suppose we spoke a little too soon with the flowering praise about Miss P's wonderful progress and attitude...

Today was ALL MARE, ALL THE TIME.  What a twit.

I was so excited to skip out on work for a couple hours to watch her work after Tuesday's "glorious ride," but apparently Pia had absolutely no intention of a repeat performance...

I pulled into the barn just as Piasaurous was walking to the ring, and she looked good, but a little hot.  Ears were super pricked, muscles were tight, and she was a little looky, but still super obedient and responsive, so no red flags went off.

BO and I both agreed that with the uppity attitude and twitching muscles, we would let her run around a bit.  So we tied up her reins and sent her off.  Perfection.  Relaxed, forward, perfection.  P was cantering gently around the ring, little bucks and head tosses, but nothing crazy, just relaxed and fun.

When she was tired enough to come back to us, we chatted for a minute and noticed that the longer P was standing, the more "agitated" she was getting again.

"no need to push it" we thought.... so we threw her on the lunge just to get her attention on the BO and try to focus her a smidge more.. Seemed like a good idea, and P was listening, but was clearly displaying some excess energy.  After a ga-zillion transitions and half halts/pushes on the line.. we pulled her in and got ready for the BO to ride.

P. was. not. interested.

Just last week the BO was complimenting me on Pia's "lovely mounting etiquette."  which, today, was no where to be seen.  What a twit.  she'd stand perfectly still until BO moved to her side to mount, then P would swing her ass around and away from the mounting block.  Bad Mare.

This conversation continued for about 10 minutes, with interludes of backing her off, making her stand, ground work, you name it.  But every time we came back to the mounting block, P would swing her butt away.  bratty pony.

Did I mention that due to a delivery of shavings, ALL the horses were inside, which means that from the ring, P can't see a single friend?  I think her butt swing thing was an attempt to look back to the barn and hunt for friends, since she's all herd bound, but I'm not sure.

We finally got a nice still halt for the BO to mount with and started off.  P was antsy and agitated, but moving forward (small victory!). sorta.

After about 10 minutes she started getting fussy about going forward and began with her cow kicks and BSing.  BO got some moments of relaxation, but for the most part P refused to settle and kept up with her sewing machine trot instead of pushing into a nice big relaxed working gait..

P's brain was starting to fry and she began whinnying.  a lot.  loudly. and it was clear that she was doing her best to tune out any aids from her rider and have her own little party.  In retrospect, this would have been a good time to get a couple great transitions and call it a day.

In actuality, this is when we decided to get a teeny tiny bit of canter work done, so BO asked her nicely to move up into the canter. P obliged and it was lovely.

Then we changed directions, and Pia objected strongly.  the trot work was a struggle, and there was ZERO acceptance of any of the aids.  But,  we worked right, so we should work left, and BO asked for the canter.  That was it.  No big question, no amazing movement, just a simple upward canter transition.

P lost it.  She kicked, she kicked more, she popped her back up and threw a buck, then she threw LOTS of bucks, and turned for the long side looking more like a crazed mustang than a refined lady.

(note: only once have I see P drop her head and buck continuously like this, and that's when she got me off  the first week I had her.  Bitch).

I saw it.  I saw P start throwing a twist into her round back buck and I saw the first slide out of the saddle.

all I could think was "God Dammit Pia.  Don't piss people off!".  BO came off, and the mare went FLYING around the arena.

At this point I'm a) pissed at the mare.  b) slightly affirmed by the fact the BO couldn't sit her bucks for more than 20 seconds either. and c) already seeing the horrible leg twisting, rein snapping misstep that could put us back on the vet's bankroll for 6 more months..

The stupid mare galloped like an idiot for a good 5 minutes.  The BO was fine (thank god) and the mare was stupid.  Galloping, whinnying, tossing her (lovely new thinline) reins around like god damn string and refusing to settle down. 

I turned around for one second, and SNAP.  Bye.  There go the reins.  Stupid, Flipping, Mare.

At this point, Pia pulled her head out of the clouds and stopped dead in the middle of the ring.  Thanks Mare! Thanks for stopping AFTER you snapped the pretty, squishy, comfy reins.  You ridiculous animal....

I ran for another set, BO put the snot back on the lunge and brought her focus back to earth with LOTS of transitions.  She popped back on for few seconds, got a good trot both directions and then we called it a day.  I felt so bad.  She kept apologizing since P was such an angel on Tuesday, and I kept apologizing for the mare tossing her into a wall... NOT a good way to make friends, P...

The good news is that the arena is so super soft and squishy that you feel like your landing on a cloud (aside from the initial smack into the wooden wall)...

The bad news is that I'm embarrassed, Pia is a twit and I have to go repair my reins (waaah).


  1. I tried to post before but Blogger ate it (I think).

    She's just telling you with her body how she's feeling inside. Here's some things I'd look at - a) feed - particularly the quantity/carbs of the grain she's getting - many horses get too much for their activity level - if a horse needs significant grain because of heavy levels of work, supplementation with vitamin B-1 can be helpful, b) turnout - is she getting enough opportunities to burn off energy and socialize with other horses - the closer you can get to full-day turnout the better, c) mare stuff - some mares have very strong cycles - I've found Mare Magic to be very helpful with some horses - it's pure raspberry leaves and pretty inexpensive, d) supplementation with magnesium oxide helps some nervous horses, and it makes lasting positive changes to the nervous system.

    I know it's hard when she acts like this, but remember that she's not bad or naughty, just a horse acting out with her body how she feels in side.

    Good luck!

  2. Kate, Thanks! I am with you, I feel like weird behavior (not that uppity and excited is weird for P..) is usually some discomfort that is squirting out.. To answer your questions, P is on super low carb feed and hardly gets any grain at this point. She's got hay all day long to munch on and seems to be hoovering it up nicely. Currently, she's out all day with a shelter.. so turnout shouldn't be an issue and I'm with you on Mare Magic- Pia has had it in her smartpak for a couple months now (doesn't seem to be helping though.. :) ).

    My primary thought is that maybe she's working on an ulcer? She was pretty cooped up at the last barn, and without work I think she got antsy in her stall.. Even though she's got a great routine now, she could have started one back there. She is on SmartDigest Ultra.. but I'm considering treating for an ulcer and seeing if that makes her a little more agreeable.. any favorite ulcer products?

  3. Apparently you can test the ulcer theory with Maalox, but I've never tried that. My two mares are on U-Gard - the pellets are better than the powder - one scoop 2x day - and it seems to have really make a difference for both of them. If the ulcers are more serious, you may need to do a 30-day treatment of Gastrogard or the generic equivalent - I believe these require a prescription. Good luck - I should have mentioned ulcers as a possibility!


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