With Spring, comes a change in routine at the stables. Recently, Gem has not been getting the same amount of turnout that he is used to. A week ago, LA brought in the herd from the pastures to allow the ground and grass to recover. The herd is now in the small field behind the barn. The gate leading to the field is right out the back door of the barn next to Gem's stall, so he can see and smell the herd when the door is open. The other horses that are not turned out with the herd (Gem included) are now taking turns with the paddock and round pen. This means that Gem is only getting a couple of hours of turnout each day. That, coupled with seeing the herd so close at hand, has made Gem a very grumpy boy. Can you spell B-R-A-T??
The last couple of times I have seen him, we have had some issues with him knocking me with his head and chewing the halter and pulling it out of my hands when I am trying to put it on him. He gets squirmy when I groom him. I have to remind him not to rush me when we are walking to the arena. He’s not only pushy, but his mouthiness has caused some problems. One of the ladies who takes care of the morning chores was sweeping in front of Gem’s stall. This woman loves Gem and they have a morning ritual. He started to mouth the back of her jacket….not an unusual thing for him to do to her apparently. But this time, when he didn’t get the attention he wanted, he bit her shoulder!! I was absolutely devastated when LA told me. I almost felt sick to my stomach. For the time being, Gem has to have the top part of his stall door closed. He has company in the barn when it comes to badly behaved horses, but I never thought he would be joining their ranks. :-(
It was extremely windy yesterday. After struggling with tacking up a jiggly horse, we stepped out into the sunshine, me first then Gem. As I started to walk Gem around me so I could turn and close the barn door, he spooked. I mean reared up a couple of times and backed away from me. Fortunately, I didn’t loose the reins and had the good sense to give him some length so that he didn’t pull me off balance. I suspect that it was LA’s daughter moving around near the old barn that caught him off guard. The swirling wind didn’t help. In any case, I talked softly to him and shortened the length of the reins to get closer to him and touch him. I walked him around the yard so he could see that there were no horse eating monsters about. His nostrils were big and he was snorting. I have never seen him do that. Once I thought he was calm enough, I opened the gate and led him down to the arena. I have to admit that I was quite pleased with myself with the way I was able to calm him. I am not a freaker-outer; you want me in your corner if there is an emergency. So, I was glad he responded to me even when I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Yesterday’s ride was a 2 on a scale of 10. He was hard to keep focused. He was full of beans for sure, but he just didn’t want to work! I had brought my dressage whip with me (everyone, including LA keeps telling me that it is my friend!), but I put it down 5 minutes after I got on him. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. He did not respond to any of my cues the first or second time and I ended up kicking a lot, which I hate. If I had had the whip, he response time may have improved. He just has to see the whip and he has an attitude adjustment. We basically fought for over an hour. I know I caved on disciplining him on numerous occasions, but I was exhausted and I sensed that he recognized this weakness. He knows that through his physical strength and stubbornness, he can tire me out. It is times like these I do feel my age and wish that I had started riding 30 years ago!
So, Spring may be here but it also means that I will probably have to put up with Gem’s grumpiness for another month while the pastures dry out. Wish me luck. Sigh…..
What was I thinking….?