Surprised Again.

By Patty Wilber

I have met a lot of horses (this year alone I had 17 different animals here and have worked with at least 10 others for lessons, consults, or something.) They seem to keep surprising me.

Had a show horse whose movement was Not Right. And he was so unhappy. I felt that he might not be able to compete at the level desired by his owner.  We changed how we asked him to work and really took his basic sensitive and willing  (Are you yelling at me?  Oh no…depression) nature into consideration and he improved, but not enough.  Then: Light Bulb!  Tried a chiropractor. HUGE and immediate difference.  The combination of physical and mental improvement… Wow! This horse CAN compete.

Show horse! (OK I swiped the photo from an ad for show jackets...)

Had a nice gelding.  (Actually I’ve had two like this) Super horses.  Athletic, willing, level headed.  Sent them home, which I thought should be fine, and first ride out: bucking spree.  REALLY?  But he doesn’t buck. Well, apparently he does…Didn’t see that coming, either time.

Bucking? Ran off periodically at first, but no bucking!

Went to watch a reining prospect.  A reining horse is going to have to run and stop hard.  I thought he looked choppy, his back legs were too straight, and he couldn’t seem to “get into the ground” at all when he was stopping.   Turns out, he is the biggest stopper I have had.  Not only that, but he has a ton of try, as well as presence under saddle.

Not bad for a "choppy" mover, eh? And he CAN plant himself in the dirt to stop.

Got an older horse that had not been started yet. He was skittish, very inexperienced and afraid of  things in his personal space–saddles, ropes, tarps, fly spray.  I took my time in working up to riding him, and when I did, he still periodically felt like a powder keg near a match.

Uncorking seemed inevitable, and indeed he gave me a good 8 second ride one day.  (I grabbed leather and hung on–yeah me!) Did a whole lot more desensitization, felt he was safe and moving out nicely. Put a new rider on  and the horse’s reaction was to… power down and become an immovable blob! Didn’t see that coming.

Desensitization. May is our model.

Ol Longshot needed to follow his mom into a trailer.  He was about nine months old. Quiet, friendly.  He should be easy to load.  Um.  NO.  If he doesn’t want to, he ain’t gonna, and no matter what was tried, he was not convinced to cooperate. Didn’t see  that coming.

Too laid back? Or too stubborn? Should we just change his name to Long Ears? (He is a lot bigger now, of course.)

In addition, I am continually surprised by the variation of interaction between horse and human.  My “relationship” with a horse is not the same as what another person will find, with the same horse.  Those bucking geldings…
Got some that I can walk out there and halter up.  My shoer and husband cannot touch them with a 10 foot pole–45 minutes (in completely separate events) of Not Getting Close. (Anti-theft program?)

What us? Hard to catch? We're soooo sweet. You must be confused!

I had horse that I lead around all over and never had a problem.  His owner came, went to lead him and the horse tried to bite him.  I had No Idea the horse was a biter (no one mentioned it when they dropped him off, and he never offered to take a hunk out of me!)

So ,that looks more like a mule! Got it off the Internet!

Sometimes it seems the difference in how a horse reacts with one person vs. another is some sort of woo woo adjustable energy field, maybe combined with crystal gazing, but I think it actually must be small physical things and timing that add up to differing wholes. At any rate, it is pretty fascinating!

Crsytal gazing--yeah off the Internet. Hope the embedded links work.


About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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6 Responses to Surprised Again.

  1. Dee, I am a firm believer in the connection between a horse and one person. I know my horse likes some others in the family more than he likes me. He is very affectionate to the men, and especially one son-in-law, but not affectionate with me at all. I think some animals and some people are drawn together, just like we are drawn to certain people.

  2. Patty says:

    Hi Maryann–Patty here. I have fun watching how horses react to their people. Sometimes it is very clear to me why the horse reacts as it does, especially if he horse is being alpha, but other times, there is not just one clear thing, but a series of little ones.

    I showed a horse to a dear friend and I knew the horse was sold when the horse put his gently rested his head on my friend’s shoulder snuffled his hair!

  3. Jackie Splinter says:

    Wow….I hope we can find good matches/connections for Scott’s horses. I’m not surprised by any of this as I really believe that animals are “real people” too, with all the foibles that we have. Really funny to read about…thanks for a few good laughs today! Jackie

  4. Patty says:

    Thanks Jackie! I hope the serach for homes for the Drafts goes well and speedily. I am glad you got some chuckles from the blog! I like to hear that!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Yeah, they’re all different and they can all surprise you–in both directions. Two of mine over the years (both geldings, and both exceptionally smart) were mischievous. They weren’t mean, but they liked to try things (the first one liked to sneak up behind my husband and blow gently down on his neck.) The spook-prone mare turned into a warrior woman unafraid of a running dog and man one day when she thought her pasture mate (old, quiet, mare with hoof problems) was being attacked. She charged the visitors. (I was SO glad I’d taught that mare to respond to hand signals: she did stop her charge.)

    And very different reactions to different people.

  6. Patty says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Wow I wonder what made your mare think they were being attacked!? Brave girl to defend her friend!

    I get also kick (or sometimes am irritated) at how much they NOTICE about the environment,
    Horse: “OOh look that garbage can was not there yesterday!”

    Horse: “Hmmpf–there are people in that yard. Moving.”
    Me: “They live there.”
    Horse: “Not! Never seen ’em before! They are still moving!”

    and they obviously notice and respond to various things that people do that I might not notice.

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