|Horse or Pig? Your guess is as good as mine|
When we last left baby horse, Miss Mae was batsh*t crazy under saddle, and we had suspected her new grain diet. Since we have taken her off of it, she has been much improved / back to her old self, so I think our guess about the culprit to her zany behavior was the right one. We’re dumping extra helpings of hay into her stall, and she’s holding steady with her weight, although she could do with a leettle more fat (lucky girl). The plan is to keep her on this diet and maybe slowly ease her into grain over the next few months.
Mae has turned into quite the good citizen on the lunge line. Before every ride, I start her off on the lunge line so as to a) gauge her energy level and a soundness check and b) train her on vocal commands and transitions. When we first started lunging her, she had a few moments of excitement but now she comes in all business. Mae is starting to be better about picking up voice commands for transitions. And whereas before I could barely get one complete canter circle, now she can do several circles in the canter in both directions. Surprisingly her left lead canter transition is more sticky than her right, and she also leans hard on the left side when cantering under saddle. We’ve been building up her stamina with the eurowalker when the ground isn’t sloppy, and she also gets three training rides a week.
Even though she did so well two weeks ago, we’ve put a hold on her jump training until she gets new shoes from our farrier. The vet check on Mae came back with negative palmar angle in the front right, and the farrier is going to come out and slowly correct it with trimming and shoeing as well as wedges to lift up her heels.
Under saddle, Mae prefers to be talked to, I’m guessing it’s a focal point for her and provides a sense of security. Her “whoa” response time is getting better and better. Ryon was able to stop immediately on a “whoa” voice command alone and I’d like to get her to that point as well. She learns very quickly and tries to please although she has a bad habit of coming to a full stop after she thinks she’s done a good job.
Mae has two bad habits that I dearly want to break her of. We are in a large commercial barn with multiple trainers, kids, non-horse people, and dogs wandering around all the time, and we also host horse shows where that population then doubles. Both of her habits are dangerous to herself and especially to people around her.
One of her bad habits is kicking out. She had been kicking out when we led her to the mounting block, but she’s already stopped doing that. She also does it when I try to pick up her back feet to clean and when she’s being curried on her sides. As this baby horse loves to roll, her grooming routine is more extensive than one I’ve been through with any horse. The combination of a horse that rolls, mud mud and more mud, and a thin-skinned horse is dirty and dangerous. Let me know if you all have any tips on how to remove mud from a winter-length coat without using the curry comb.
Mae’s second bad habit is head shyness. I suspect that she’s been smacked or beaten extensively in the past based on her reactions to sudden hand movements (and even not-so-sudden hand movements) near her head. Instead of backing up and off as Ryon did, Mae raises and tosses her head when she’s alarmed. We’ve already snapped a pair of crossties and she also broke/sprained one of my fingers when she yanked her head up and back after stepping on her own lead.
I’ve started work on correcting both of these behaviors already. I’ve been rewarding steadiness to hand raises and patting her face with cookies. She understands a stern and firm “no” so I need to be consistent with that when she’s behaving badly.
Overall, not bad progress for only a month, and month two should be interesting with the temperature swings we get in Texas as well as maybe even a trail introduction? Do I even dare?