One day last week my son fed the horses in the late afternoon before I got home from work so that I could ride in the evening. Usually, when I get home 6:30ish they are so hungry that all I can do is feed them. Thursday night however, they were finishing up their dinner when I came home. I quickly changed clothes and went out to the barn.
I haltered and led Yalla! out of the arena and tied her up to a post outside the barn while I groomed and saddled Scout inside the barn. I figured it would be good training for her to grow a little patience; outside, alone. Lately, she has turned into such a little devil. She is going through the 'terrible yearlings' or something. I realize that a lot of it has to do with her doting "alpha" mother and her inherited herd position but I'm wondering what to do about it? She terrorizes Nadia and bullies Scout, kicking out at them whenever she is displeased or feeling extra feisty. And she's doing it to me too. She is still very friendly, although she may be a bit too forward, always pushing in if I am petting and talking to the other horses. She loves to be hugged and rubbed all over but I am always wary of her. Actually, I think one should never let their guard down around a young horse because they are so unpredictable. Sometimes, she gets a whim and takes off, kicking out as she goes. She's even kicked out at me. I try to always keep something in my hands now when I go in to her because I don't want her to accidentally kick me. She only kicks out randomly, and I don't think she intends to hurt me, but it can get dangerous. I have read that a yearling often goes through this stage of testing her dominance over others. Unfortunately, I can't seem to "get her" to put her in her place because I never have the crop in my hands when she chooses to do it. I can see it in her eyes when she is going to kick out as she wheels around but usually there's not enough warning to stop her when I'm trying to get out of her way. I yell at her and if I could I'd whip her, but I don't want to be directly behind her at the time. I really hope it's a passing phase and she outgrows it soon but I wonder what I can do. She only does this when she's loose and it's so random that I really can't prepare and prevent it.
Okay. so anyway, I think I need to give her attitude adjustment and show her that I can control her. That's one of the reasons why I chose to tie her up away from everybody else. She pawed a bit and wheeled back and forth a few times but she is also learning to stand quietly. I want her to be able to tie up easily.
Any other ideas?
When Scout was ready to go, I put Yalla! back out into the arena with Annie. Then I mounted Scout and we rode out through the gate to the field behind my house. Sandy was hanging around the barn with me and she came along when we rode out. I was half expecting a really bad ride because Scout has been getting very buddy sour this past summer. He gets anxious and neighs back to the girls when I ride him out and he becomes very unpredictable. On this night however, he was a perfect gentleman. Maybe it was because Sandy was company, or he was feeling well fed. I had run all the horses earlier, before I saddled up so, on a whim, figuring he was already warmed up, I broke all my rules about warming up for ten minutes, and just trotted and cantered out from the field next to the barn. Maybe that actually calmed him down. Then we walked and walked and sometimes I'd ask for a trot or a canter. He responded well and then easily settled down to his nice, fast paced, 'trails' walk. Usually, he has to hustle to keep up with Nadia so he's learned to pick up the pace a bit.
I don't know why he was so good, but it was wonderful. We could hear the girls back at the barn calling to us, er, him. He'd prick his ears and just walk along pleasantly; relaxed and quiet. Sandy would run to keep up and then take off after a rabbit. Then she'd come tearing back through the brush to us and he'd give a little half-hearted spook. Sandy sometimes followed right at Scout's heels and once she was out front about ten feet and stopped. We almost ran her over. It was great fun to go riding with my horse and my dog again. Many years ago, I would ride with my Dalmatian, Cassidy, another stray that adopted us, running along beside, in front, or behind the horse and I.
I didn't have my camera along so, alas, no pictures. We rode around the back forty until dark, a good hour or so, going down all the side roads back and forth. There's actually one very large field with trees, and two side roads so that we could switch directions and reroute without backtracking. Not once did Scout get antsy or want to hurry back to the barn although Sandy was acting rather winded after we trotted and cantered.
I brought Scout back to the barn and unsaddled him. Then I brushed him down - no sweat- and noticed how he was shedding some of the new hair he's been growing. It's cold at night here already. Then I gave all the horses some treats and turned him out with the others. All in all, it was a very good night.
When it's good, it's really good, and when it's bad I go to pieces - song: Candidate, artist: David Bowie, album: Diamond Dogs