So said my smart and thoughtful Trainer Chris when I e-mailed him about Lex's recent mood swings. Which, honestly, aren't bad. I'm just trying to figure her out and what makes her tick.
I wrote a few days ago that Lex clearly does not want to go in the ring. I gave her Saturday off to go to the show with Chris, which was rewarding. I ran my ideas for helping her by him, and he thought they sounded reasonable. We watched some pretty "whatever" riding over a very badly-designed course, but I really liked getting the chance to hang out with Chris and Susan. They are smart people who clearly care a lot about animals. Anyway, on Sunday we were able to take a really fun hack with Lovely Barn Mate S and her horse, Izzy, who came from the vet school, just like Lex. S just started Izzy under saddle and she was a very good girl. Lex and I had a lot of fun with them and she was AWESOME. A little fresh and forward, but I love a fresh and forward horse. I'd rather say "okayyyyy let's just settle ourselves down a little" than worry that my horse is being sluggish because she's unhappy. So, YAY for Sunday.
Monday she got the day off again, except to get smooches and treats from her adoring human. Tuesday, though. Whew.
Things started out okay on Tuesday as we walked around in the ring a little. It had been raining all night, so the sand in the horrible ring was really nicely packed. I thought this might be a good day to do a little bit of trotting in the ring and maybe hop over our tiny cross-rail again. NOOOOOPE. The trot started out fine, but as we went along she got more rushy and ear-pinny and got kind of a hitch in her back - all of this is new for her. She was downright unhappy. I brought her back to the walk and she was fine. I took her out of the ring, and she was just weird. S was there to feed, so we took turns jogging her and watching her go, and neither of us could see anything wrong, but things were definitely NQR. I got back on to just walk her around, and she seemed upset. After a short walk around, during which time she relaxed, we stood around and talked to S, who scratched her ears (she LOVES that) and cooed over her. Eventually she looked more like my reasonable, sweet horse.
The mare was not trying to be naughty. She was hurting. I was really bummed out about it, especially because I couldn't figure it out. The good news is, my brilliant, wonderful farrier was coming out to work on Duchess later in the afternoon, so I texted her and she agreed to look at Lex also. She and I went over her with a fine-tooth comb (and she gave me a thorough course in hoof-testing and how to hold the hoof like a real farrier, which was awesome). The mare isn't lame at all, I was relieved to learn. In fact, she trots really beautifully - even in hand, she's got suspension. Soooo fancy!
Here's what I'm thinking:
1. She's sore. She is fine trotting out in the field, but the ring makes her hunchy because it's small and the footing sux. It would be great if the barn owners would drag it every once and again, but even then, I doubt that would fix the problem. Lana The WonderFarrier agrees with me that this is probably behind her weird behavior yesterday. So she got today off (except for smooches, hugs, and a good thirty minutes of hand-grazing) and tomorrow we will hack around the field and take it slow. We're not in a hurry.
2. She could be in heat - I don't know her very well yet, I haven't pinned down her cycles. I didn't notice any other typical signs, but I'll definitely keep observing her carefully.
3. I started the ride with Thinline neoprene boots on. Something in the back of my mind is wondering about whether she hates them/has issues with neoprene. I'll leave them off and see what happens. Even if she doesn't have a neoprene sensitivity, if she was sore and/or in heat AND the boots are annoying her, that could lead to some cranky behavior. I took them off, though, and nothing changed.
4. She's dropped weight. The barn owners stopped feeding the big round bales "now that we have grass" (what grass? It's a sparse, sandy field - they used to have grass, apparently, but there's not much there now) and so I'm gonna up her feed, especially forage, and try to get a little bit of the weight back on. I know I'm a shithead when I haven't been getting enough food. So the pretty girl gets to come in for morning feedings and she is very happy about that!
Today she was in a good mood. My gut says that she's sore and developed a complex about the ring. I'm done with that stupid ring. It sucks because now I don't have a level surface to ride on and I'm gonna have a hard time training a green horse with no flat ground or good footing. I'm bummed out about it.
The good news, though, is that I have had my little girl for two months today!!! I love her so much. Our recent couple of odd rides are nothing. She is a delight to be around, lots of fun to ride, and just brightens my day every day. If we run into some rough patches, well, that's horses, and Chris is just a phone call away. I can't wait for our ride tomorrow.
I rode Duchess today, and she was such a good girl. I am crazy about this horse! She's essentially had over two months off and you'd never know it. Perfect mare. Of course, she's 20, so she's got no excuses to be silly, but she's as forward and happy as ever!
|Look at that beautiful face. I am lucky to have these mares!|
|Wait... what? Why are you on that horse?|
|Chillin' like a masked villain.|
And here's a picture of Rocket, just because!
|I AM going to get my whole head over this door!|