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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~


6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Behavior

I admit it, I'm a bit of a behavior Nazi. My horses stop when I stop, back when I back, and walk when I walk, on a loose lead. They stand when I tell them to, and don't move until I tell them to. They stay out of your space unless you invite them in. They don't nibble on anything - people, crossties, nothing at all. Mouthiness is NOT acceptable AT ALL - they don't open their mouths unless I'm putting something in them (yes, I do handfeed treats, and she knows not to ask for them). They stand still when near grass and don't go to eat until they get the word "Okay" from me. They don't paw for food, or while standing on the crossties. They pay attention to me. They open their mouths for the bit and put their heads down into bridles and halters. They stand quietly with their ears forward when being girthed up. And they are my friends. I dictate where their feet go, and they are happy to accept their role as second in command. If I need to reprimand, it is quick, and it is without emotion. I also am quick to reward if they've done the right thing.

I don't understand why it should be any other way, but a lot of the time, it is.


Readers, I want to know - what bad behaviors or manners drive YOU nuts? Since I'm crazy pretty much ALL bad manners drive me bats, but chewing on things and leading poorly top the list, I think. What about you?


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In other, better news, Gogo was an absolute peach today. I only rode for half an hour - I think a new record for getting a good dressage-y ride in a short amount of time - and she was just awesome, right there for me when I picked her up. I didn't canter on a loose rein, just walked and trotted and then picked her up right from there. And there she was! We leg yielded, we lengthened, we serpentined with ease. We did some shallow loops in canter, performed 10m circles to leg yields, and did a few shoulder-ins to 10m circles and back to a bit of haunches in down the long side. Complicated, more along the second level lines, but she understood and did her best. I finished with a perfect square halt, looked at my watch, and was astonished that it had only been 30 minutes. Delightful!

But that was really the big highlight of my day. The rest of it pretty much just sucked. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, but I can't make any guarantees.



The entry for the ENYDCTA/Old Chatham H.T. just went out in the mail tonight. I sent it in electronically on the opening date, and sent out the checks just now. This is the Area 1 Novice Championship show.... who's excited? I'm excited!!

Now, if we could just get these darn clueless owners to behave themselves and to stop getting mad at me for caring about their horses' health... then everything would be sweet.



Gogo showing jumpers a year or so ago, winter '08.



(One final note. There was a rotational fall at Devon last weekend, in a Big Eq class. Everybody's okay, but that's pretty scary. Even in the hunters, as totally harmless as they seem, awful things can happen.)

19 comments:

Albigears said...

The ranch horses are NOT allowed to crowd the gate when I'm bringing a group of riders back in. They're also not allowed to enter their paddocks where they get supplements, even if the gate is open, unless I ask them to. It's hard when I'm not the only one feeding.

Anonymous said...

In my book NOTHING is more irritating than pawing in the aisle! Several horses at my barn do it and now my horse has started to test it out as well. Bzzzt! Wrong answer, buddy.

Funder said...

Just curious, how do you teach standing still? When she's tied, Dixie is a huge pawer, and I usually ignore it because I don't want to reinforce her. I'm always looking for different/better methods though!

Albigears said...

Have you tried giving the salt-inhaling horse manganese? Sometimes I get strong intuitive hits. This morning out of nowhere I woke up and thought "that horse on Andrea's blog needs manganese". I didn't know what it was so I did some research...

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=77

and

http://www.understanding-horse-nutrition.com/manganese.html

It looks like it's pretty harmless. And if lack of it is blocking the absorption of biotin it could help explain the hoof problems.

(I know this may sound like some crazy person on the internet, but I felt I owed it to the horse to at least put it out there.)

Ally said...

There is a girl at my barn who's horse rubs it's head on her whenever she's done with a ride. This isn't a "aww how cute she's giving you a gentle rub to show she loves you" kind of rub. It's more like a horse head violently attacking the girls back/head/arms/legs and covering her in hair. The girl literally braces herself against the wall or her tack box and just lets her horse rub all over her until it is finished because she cannot get a halter on it until this ritual is over with. I was shocked the first time I saw it. The girl thinks it is cute, but I have never seen such a huge invasion of space. Also, a few of the horses at the barn lunge at every horse that walks by. All three are owned by the same woman, and I know that this problem is a little harder to correct, but I mean come on this is just downright dangerous. They've never been able to actually make contact but the other horses HATE walking down the barn aisle because of them. The owner just giggles and says "oh sorry, they do that sometimes" *sigh* They do that ALL the time.

*Sharon* said...

Hmmm, I am not sure it is any particular behaviour/habit that gets me as much as the inconsistent owners. The ones who don't set clear rules, reward the wrong behaviour and wonder why their horses walk all over them.

I share a paddock with an eleven year old girl and her pony. I am trying to teach her what I missed out on, so that she can learn to do things correctly from the start.

Andrea - you might be interested in the work of Dr Andrew McLean who specialises in horse training in an academic way. I think his work is brilliant and has certainly helped me. The website is www.aebc.com.au

Anonymous said...

Funder - not sure if your question was directed at me or not, but for pawing, I use an open-handed smack on the shoulder of the "offending" leg and say "stop." We're at a point now where I can say "stop" even if I'm not near him and he will stop. BUT, he is young and just recently "discovered" the behavior, so I'm not sure if this would work as well with a more established pawer.

cierarosaline said...

I hate it when horses paw. there's the one super pony at my barn who will do and jump absolutely anything but is now a huge pawer because a half leaser and her mom give him cookies whenever he does it. it drives me nuts!!! i also hate biting, obnoxious rubbing and biting...

Andrea said...

Funder, I agree with Anon, but I do a slightly different twist on it - usually an open palm slap on the belly following a verbal reprimand. Obviously this is a bad idea if the horse you are slapping is going to kick you for touching their belly, but I've found that bellies are an area we all like to protect, and horses find it pretty unpleasant. If you've ever watched young, mouthy colts playing with each other, they do the bite game - each reaches over and bites one on the neck or shoulder, and then swings away while the other does it back. Some youngsters take a whack on the shoulder or neck to be the initiation of that game.

The one thing to remember is to keep emotion out of it. A verbal reprimand, a whack if she doesn't listen, and then drop it when she stops. When she's being good, be extra pleasant to her too, and you'll find that a little sweetness goes a LOT further than a lot of salt.

plottinghorse said...

I ride at a riding school, on school horses and just recently a sign went up in the tie-stall (I know, awful!!) of a hyper arabian mare; it says that you have to turn her to saddle and bridle her. So, I did and attached her halter to the cross ties at the end of her stall (I didn't really know what the procedure was supposed to be). Then a staff member comes in and tells me to leave her lose! Because she gets claustrauphobic and throws herself backwards. Okay, not good! But is that really the best way to deal with this issue?
I certainly felt a little discomforted to be leaving her lose as I was getting her ready...

manymisadventures said...

I hate it when horses crowd me.

I'm comfortable with my girls being in my space, because they only come in when I let them, and I know they'll back off as soon as I ask them to. Pandora will often step slowly up and gently put her forehead and muzzle against my chest - it's her way of asking for some affection and maybe ear scratches, but she's never pushy about it.

But if I'm handling someone else's horse, and they come into my space without an invitation and then WON'T LEAVE? Drives me nuts.

Serena said...

Horses that don't tie. I canNOT stand that. QH people just tie their babies to trees and let them figure out that pulling back doesn't work--why can't TB people do that with their yearlings?!

Meghan said...

All bad manners are just BAD, but lately I've seen more horse people behaving badly than horses. (Might be because I'm surrounded by stock horses, not warmbloods!) One of the local "trainers" has no patience for horses that don't behave like 20 year old dead broke ranch horses. She's working with a warmblood mare right now (why anyone would give her a warmblood to train I have NO idea...we have good dressage trainers up here who are used to working with sport horses) and she gets upset with her when she spooks at things. Lady, it's a warmblood. That's what they DO. And she recently provoked my mare into rearing while trying to deworm her. This mare has been difficult to worm in the past, but not to the point of rearing. So then instead of just using a twitch, she put the leadrope between her forelegs and basically forced her head down. Yup, that's a great way to train her to never want to be wormed again! Thanks a lot, "trainer".

Andrea said...

Amen Meghan! Bad horsey manners only start with bad human manners. It's not the horses' fault that they behave like heathens, it's the OWNER or TRAINER'S!
Also, that's pretty much exactly what happened to Gogo that taught her how to rear. Bad trainer made her SERIOUSLY claustrophobic, and up she goes when she gets that way. Hasn't done it for a long time, but man, just a bad bad bad bad idea.

sidetracked said...

I'm totally with you on the respect issue with horses. Horses are very big prey animals that can easily hurt a person wether they mean to or not. I am always telling owners and riders that they must be herd boss. It's a safety issue. people need to rule with a firm hand and gentle voice and be quick with praise and precise with reprimands. This teaches the horses that you are in charge and they can trust you and just like children they need rules and boundaries and thrive off of this. It's very similiar to parenting only that horses could seriously hurt you by having a hissy fit.

One of my biggest pet peeves is a horse that runs away from you in the paddock. I have never had this issue with any of my horses. They want to be around me and with me and enjoy their job. Possum is always waiting at the gate for me when I pull up, he even knows the car I drive. Owning horses is a give and take relationship. I believe that I have a great relstionship with my horse who also was a victim of severe abuse earlier in his life. If he can come around there is hope for all horses.

Cathryn said...

Pawing irritates me to no end. And when you stop a horse, if they are an 'immobile' stopper. And cribbing. I HATE IT.

Kelly said...

Horses that don't lead, horses that lean and can't go forward worth a damn (all surprisingly related!)

Accendora said...

Pinning their ears at me. Especially after I correct them. It unnerves me more than annoys me, actually. I don't want to get into a horse fight.

Bucking on the lounge line. I have no words for how bad an idea this is. You send the horse out, and it kicks up its heels, and there goes your face. Yeah, not cute.

allison said...

same with the crowding the gate thing- it unnerves me to no end more than it does annoy me. So many people have gotten injured in some way due to this- broken toes from stepped on feet, bruised tummies from hitting the railing of the gate, ect ect. Some behaviours need to be corrected if your horse is boarding in a public barn.

While it is your animal, you need to respect other riders and their animals. I think the highest of riders who try and correct behaviours such as these and care properly for their horses, as I'm sure most people do. Why don't people get this?!? letting your horse walk all over you and be a pain in the ass for other people is showing that not ONLY are you ignorant/lazy/other bad trait, but that you don't care about or have any dwindling respect for the other people at your barn.