Friday, 21 November 2014

Why Can't We All Get Along?

I'm one of those people that goes through life pretty laid back about what others around me are doing. I get slightly annoyed by someone the odd time, but I always try to see the good and ignore the bad. If someone annoys me a lot or repeatedly does disrespectful things, I generally just back away and don't have much time for them moving forward. Totally non confrontational and really not the best way to handle people. It's an even worse way to handle horses, although thankfully Ginger is of the same mindset as me, so we just happily spend our time being nice and trying our best not to offend each other.
Wild and free is the place to be

And then we have little Ms Bridget. I've been noticing less than desirable behaviour lately, but I've been passing it off as her addicted treat face self and cut her off of any treats or hand feeding. Those treats I bought are apparently the equivalent of pony crack and we all know what happens when the addiction starts talking! Seriously though, it seems like time is always limited or we're on our way somewhere and it's just too darn easy to go out do fun things like trail rides than stay home by ourselves and address some respect issues on the ground. Because surely respect issues on the ground would never translate to issues under saddle, right? ;)

Don't let the cuteness fool you. She'll turn you into a treat dispensing minion in less than an hour.
I went up to the barn this morning with the intention of giving both girls a good grooming. I went out in the pasture and Ms Bridget thought it would be fun to herd everyone away from me. Then she thought it would be appropriate to pin her ears and shake her head at me while crowding my space looking for treats. Not cool. When I moved her away she did it grudgingly and with a really poor attitude. So mental note, pony needs a serious talking to, and I was ready to move her away, bring Ginger in for a grooming and come back another day for Bridget boot camp. Silly pony kept coming back and pressing her case, so FINALLY I snapped and brought her in for a reminder of basic pony manners.

I was still actually expecting some basic groundwork would be all it would take. Not so...pony was sassy and not having any of it. The same attitude from last weekend's lesson. Except this time I know pony is not annoyed by saddle fit, by the bit, by my riding, and I know she knows what's expected of her.... hmmm, finally stupid human is seeing the problem. It took an hour of playing bad cop before I could finally move those stubborn feet anywhere I wanted and without pinned ears, rearing, crowding me, or generally trying to intimidate me with a crappy attitude. And while she was definitely improved by the end, I'm still not happy with her. While I was cooling her out, she immediately decided since we were friends again she could continue to test the waters in seemingly little ways. Someone has continued boot camp in her immediate future.
Being bad is very hard work

To the outsider, I'm sure today's drama would have made it look like I own a rank, nasty little pony. Here's my friendly PSA - today was 100% my fault. B is NOT a nasty, rank pony - she's confident, assertive, and wickedly smart. That those positive qualities spawned a nasty attitude of late is all on me due to my laziness in enforcing her boundaries. I was warned when I bought her that she had a little bit of a history, and the clinician I rode with in September noticed her default is to test and push back and warned me about it when he was working with her.She's also been getting progressively fitter, the weather has been getting progressively colder, and I've unfortunately been doing progressively less riding. So, I have no excuse, and will move forward with some stricter boundaries and a better exercise schedule. What works for Ginger and I is not at all what Bridget needs, so I need to step even further outside my comfort zone and be much more dedicated, assertive and strong. Perhaps that will come in handy in real life as well.

16 comments:

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    1. Oh, I will. I may be a pushover, but I'm incredibly stubborn when I finally set my mind to something lol

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    1. Adorable evil pony boot camp :)

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  3. good luck! i'd be curious to learn some of the exercises you'll be working on with her too

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    1. I'm writing a post especially for you! :)

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  4. No judging here! You know what you need to do, and I'm interested to see how your "herd" dynamic changes. I have Huskies, including one that sees me as lower in the pack than him, (but my husband is God to him) so I totally understand how personality shapes the way animals see and react to you. Good luck!

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    1. It's funny, I was the supreme leader as far as our dogs were concerned, as well as Ginger, and G was their minion, but both of the more alpha type mares (Bridget and Lainey) I've had naturally gravitate towards G! The actual herd dynamic in the field is currently in flux as well, which I find very interesting as it's corresponding with Bridget's increased efforts at dominance with me.

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  5. Good for you for addressing the problem. My WB was such a &$!?* on the ground, and still can be, so boot camp never ends... But yay for recognizing and correcting! #winning

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    1. Thank you! I'd make a terrible drill sergeant lol

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  6. Gavin is a bit of a tester, and keeps things interesting by switching up what exactly he tests. On occasion he looks like a rank, nasty little pony as well (and I hate making a scene, but sometimes you have to!). I try to schedule one dedicated ground session at least once a month. I grab his halter and a dressage whip and after 30 minutes I have a very well behaved gentleman.

    Good luck with your mare! It may be a pain in the ass, but ponies like ours keep things interesting and are certainly clever - which I take pride in, even if he sometimes uses it against me. :)

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    1. I've noticed she cycles through a variety of tests (in between being really good!) as well, she's found my weakness for cute ponies at last ;)

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  7. Ponies can be pushy little beggars & smart ponies are worse. Good on you for zeroing in on the issue and taking the steps to correct it before it got out of hand.
    Miss B just needs her boundaries & it'll all come together again ☺

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    1. Thank you, I think she's going to be good again in no time :)

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  8. Good luck! Boundaries are hard to keep when they're all cute and fuzzy like that but it's something you really need. I would always have to remind some of my new horse owner boarders that these animals are exactly that... They're animals, who could seriously injure you or worse. You're going to make it work, just stick with it :) Every horse is different.

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    1. It's so funny, I KNOW this, and have been quite diligent in the past, but apparently I totally have a blind spot for Ms Bridget :)

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