Four months with Maeby

Lest you think the arguments are over, let me assure you, they are not.

First of all, let’s give the little raptor some benefit of the doubt.  She has only been at the barn for four months, two of which she was weak and really sick, and we really didn’t push her outside of a very confined comfort zone and limited her interaction with other horses.  Now she’s been asked to do things with a rider on her back that she’s never done before, like drop her head and go slow.  I’ve also been introducing her to different environments, away from the herd.

This past weekend Mae became official.  My trainer made a laminated name plate for her stall, and we celebrated by going out to graze.

Raptor looking at her name
Don’t go into the long grass.  There be raptors there.

There are two overgrown fields out by the driving range next to our barn; I don’t think they’ve been mowed since January.  These fields are out of sight from the barn, and they are Raptor Mae’s mix of heaven and hell.  When Raptor and I walk out to the field on our own, she’s both excited and anxious.  She knows there’s lush clover at the end of the path, but she’ll have to walk away from her homies to get to it.  While we’re out there, she’s on high alert the entire time.  Wind, birds, you name it, they make her nervous.  She starts heading back to the barn when she feels like the potential dangers outweigh the free salad.

Mainly because of new stimuli and/or new concepts, Raptor and I have been fighting consistently, at least once a week, about who the alpha/leader/bosswoman is.  When she gets scared, her instinct is to return to the safety of the barn and when she is not allowed to do what she wants, she kicks out with her back feet, like a child stomping its feet.  Luckily she doesn’t do it very often but it’s something that I won’t stand for.  I’ve been able to out wait her; patience is most certainly the name of the game.

On her April goal progress, Mae’s head shyness is much improved, even within only a month’s time.  I would still like her nervousness to come down; we’ll continue to work at it.  She’s improved a lot in her self carriage.  We’ve been asking her to drop her head and to accept contact in her mouth at all three gaits.  Her trot is still the least consistent of the three gaits, but she’s able to use her hind end more and more and find a comfortable position.  Mae’s weight gain, as I mentioned earlier, is coming along nicely, and she’s muscling up as well.  She still looks shrimpy compared to all of the other horses in the turnout, but she’s sassing all of them a lot more than she has been for the last few months.

Here are Mae’s May (ha!) goals (again, applying KISS methodology):

Accept contact and relax

Steady, consistent gaits

Continue desensitization

Do any of you have recommended desensitization tips?  Or is this something I’m going to have to be patient and persistent with?


  1. Unfortunately, no tips, Rooth, but I think what you're doing....getting her out there consistently to get used to what's out there in the field... is the right way. And yay for the improvements! She'll get there soon enough:)

  2. The trailish obstacles that I've seen people work with (poles, exercise balls, pool noodles through boards, streamers etc) all seem to be great desensitizing tools. I think you can keep it KISS for that stuff too. Anything that seems like it might be scary that you have in the house could work for desensitizing in the arena.


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