Monday, October 16, 2017

Baby Horse Problems

I was a bad mom and have hardly worked with my horses in the last week, and probably just scheduled myself out of doing horse related work tonight... again.


Bad Ashley.

I did drag Arya out on Friday (BB played too, though her ride is so laughably pathetic I won't even blog about it. She's as out of shape as I am, and that's saying something). Arya and I played on the ground, because I thought I would have time to ride this weekend when it turned out that I kinda didn't, because I was doing photo work and moving approximately 270 60-lb bales of hay. But anyways. Arya did some ground work, because she was looking a bit feral with all of her... acrobatics in the pasture, and of course, she also cut her leg and was stocked up so I wasn't sure if she would be sound.

She was sound, and started doing the basic groundwork stuff pretty obediently - stop, turn, go forward at different gaits, etc. I started again with her by walking over poles with me leading her, and for a while, we were doing great, even when I sent her. I upped the ante and put her over a pile of poles, and she did great - going one direction.

Her new form of protest, apparently, is to put on the breaks, and then turn and run the other way to do what I'm asking her on the "easy" side. Brat. She tried that a few times, which was extra scary because, ya know, I am lunging her through standards and if I don't steer her right, she runs into them, or around them, and both of those are undesirable and probably would traumatize her further. She got flustered and I tried to step her back to being like, ok, first we do a few ground work circles, and now I walk you over the pole, and now I send you over the pole, but she always wants to leap over the poles (they are seriously two landscape timbers next to each other, not stacked, not a mini x, nothing - and she only leaps when she's "alone") and then make her life harder by insisting on doing the exercise with speed. Then she'd scare herself, and would try to shut down going forward by kind of running backwards to keep me from getting behind her with my body to drive her forward.

I feel like each time we work on the ground, it's 2 steps forward, 3 steps back; she can do an exercise with increasing confidence, and then botch it once and the whole thing goes to pieces. On Friday, she worked herself up into a nice sweat that lathered when I tried to groom her afterwards, because clearly being dramatic and stressed is SO MUCH WORK.

So much neck sweat.

I think, going forward, I might actually try to do more pole work under saddle and work on bending and maybe even the start of lateral work in hand. While I still am a bit leery of her backing off under saddle and needing to thump her forward, I'm getting braver about it, and she doesn't offer to rear (yet) so we haven't had any further trauma.

TL:DR; training baby horses is hard. Arya is so much greener than I expected, weirdly enough, and I am trying so hard to develop her out of this freak-out-and-have-a-meltdown stage and to teach her to be confident and to trust me. I feel like there is a nice horse in there, but I'm not sure how to get her out of her own head. Clearly I need to a) work her more and b) figure out a game plan to get her progressing with, if anything, better recovery from the moments of "trauma".

She's a special one.


  1. Baby horse training IS hard. The struggle is so real. It's always fun when they make something 625174726 times harder than it has to be and get themselves all worked up for no reason! Ugh. Why do we do this again? 😉

    1. I ask myself that every time I pull her out XD Hopefully they grow up to be vaguely solid citizens?

  2. Baby Horses are tough. Have you considered shorter sessions on the ground?

  3. Baby horses are so so difficult!! It does eventually work out though, at least it did in my case and mine was very difficult when I got her.

  4. Training them is hard, but the rewards are so so so worth it later down the line!