Overreacting? Or valid?

One of my biggest joys in riding is having happy horses.  This means that I accept each horse for who he/she is, the job he wants to do, and I take lessons to improve in that direction.  When someone tells me they want to start riding after watching my ride, that is usually enough to make me not care that my ride didn’t win any top scores or ribbons in a show.

There are a lot of little body language things that horses use to communicate this to us, and for me, walking up to me and happily grabbing the bit for a ride is a big indicator.

Thursday night, after what was a good lesson the day before, Bali turned and walked away from me.  Only a few steps, but this is rare behavior.  I possibly should have just taken the hint and given her a day off, but I walked to her and took her in for a ride.  Then, she adamantly did not want to put on her bridle.  I wstill kept on, I put my finger on her gums to get her to open her mouth and then we rode, but she just was not into it.

This put me down my path of worry that I had done too much.  Is that last little bit of being on the bit going to be too much for Bali?  Is her fitness not good enough for that?  Was she just a little bit sore from that new carriage and I should have just given her a day off?

After about 20 minutes of Bali feeling not her usual, willing self, she found her forward and seemed a bit more herself.  I kept the ride short, already feeling bad that I probably had done a bit too much without enough cool down the night before.  She was back to her normal, affectionate attitude (to me…she is rather aloof with others ) that night when I took out her grazing muzzle.  I gave her Friday off, and I will make sure to get a trail ride in to have a fun day, and I will try to listen a bit more closely next time.

To me, harmonious rides are more important than higher scores or ‘better’ dressage.  I hope this is just a minor fitness issue because Bali seemed ok with it while doing the initial work and I do want to learn to ride the upper level horse.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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4 Responses to Overreacting? Or valid?

  1. Pia says:

    I have to say, I listen to those signals as well. I may not let them get away with it initially, to not create a bad habit, but i may do something else and very easy. Perhaps even just a few minutes of free longe, a massage and check-up. It could be anything, a tooth, a stiff muscle. Keep listening. If you’ve stepped up the work, perhaps there’s something she doesn’t understand?

    • Mel says:

      It is almost contradictory to say “listen to those signals” and “don’t let them get away with it”, but it is the usual fine line how much training. I think it is a little bit different with a mature horse who is in work 5 or 6 times a week. The youngster who is just learning the routine, that horse might be the case where I’d worry about a bad habit and still do some sort of light working interaction.

      Bali felt good on Saturday, after a day off, and was back normal.

      • Pia says:

        I know, I did think of it while I wrote it. If your horse is normally willing, any sign is probably a right sign. But sometimes they’re so smart that they continue the behaviour after the cause is gone, simply because they’ve learned to. Which is really annoying when you’re a worry wart, because then you really don’t know when to listen. 😉

      • Pia says:

        I always investigate for obvious reasons of course. Glad to hear she just needed some time-out. If it happens again, perhaps you could try scheduling more days off as you increase the learning curve?

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