Monday, June 14, 2010

Regaining the Focus

On Mondays, Maisie's barn is closed. That is, except for me. When I moved her there, I got them to agree that I could come to the barn on Monday and work my horse so long as I stayed out of the way of any repairs or maintenance that was going on. Today when I got there, the place was deserted. As I walked down the aisle, I did my usually greeting of the yearling in one stall and mare and foal in the next stall - the owner of the barn breeds Standardbreds for racing. As I said "hello mama" to the mare I heard a loud whinny from the other end of the aisle - it was Maisie, responding to my voice. She rarely does this inside the barn.

When I took her out of her stall to groom her, her head was high, she was very "looky" and the whites around her eyes were showing. I wasn't sure what that was all about, as the barn seemed quiet except for some machinery outside. I groomed and tacked, and it quickly became apparent that Maisie was in heat - she was paying excessive attention to the gelding across the aisle. When I took her to the indoor, she started calling and looking around - her attention was everywhere but on me. I mounted up and we did some walk work. She was still calling from time to time, particularly when we walked by a door to the outside or to the barn - sometimes she does a "half-call" where her body shakes and she makes a strangled half-whinny - it's very funny. She felt pretty up, so to be on the safe side, since I was at the barn by myself, I got off, closed all the gates to the indoor, and took off her bridle to see if she needed to run and play. She just stood there, perfectly still, but staring off into the distance and very alert. OK, no running needed. I got back on, and we went to work at the walk - some figures and some inside leg to outside rein work.

After a bit she was focussing somewhat better, although still calling from time to time. So we moved up to trot, and she was just fine. In order to help her continue to regain her focus, I used lots of changes of rein and direction. We did two long sets of trot work interspersed with some walking. We're only doing large circles and shallow turns, but because it was just us in the indoor, we could do all sorts of figures all over the ring around and between the jumps that were set up. The longer we worked, the more focussed she became. She was able to maintain a relaxed trot pace, which was what I wanted. It turned out to be a good session, although it didn't look like it was going to be at the beginning.

When I took her back into the barn and untacked her, she managed to leave a large puddle that I had to clean up - for the pony in the stall next to where she was standing, who happens to be a mare! Those of you with mares understand these things, those without are probably shaking your heads. I was pleased that Maisie was able to regain her focus and work with me for a productive conditioning session. That's the most marish she ever gets, and I'll take that.

* * * * * *
And tonight for dinner there was an excellent stir-fry - broccoli and kohlrabi from our organic farm share, asparagus from the farmers' market, garlic scapes from my garden, along with some sliced onion, tofu and chopped carrot, seasoned with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, all served over soba noodles. I love stir-fry because I can prep most of the vegetables ahead of time, saving the garlic and onions to chop while the harder vegetables are cooking.

Here are the harder vegetables cooking while the onions and garlic scapes wait their turn:

And the final result - yum!


  1. Your stir-fry dinner looks delicious. It's so nice to have all fresh ingredients to work with.

    I'm glad Maisie was able to focus on the work at hand. It didn't sound like it was going to happen at the beginning. I'm just learning about mares since Dusty is really the first mare I've had for any length of time. They are a study in interesting behavior for sure. I've always had geldings but I'm starting to have a soft spot for mares now.

  2. I agree! That dinner looks spectacular! You sure are taking advantage of that indoor. Maisie seems to be making great progress. Good for you!

  3. I also have a shameless hussy of a mare, and I sympathize!

    Your dinner looks delicious. Garlic scapes are wonderful! I am terrible at stir-frying, but great at sauteeing. I think I need a heavy wok and a gas range...

  4. Lily is not very mareish but I do see the signs of her distraction. It really seems that the time your spending riding is really reaping rewards.

    MMMM. Fresh veggies for stirfry!

  5. Aproductive ride and a good dinner ! A good day. Most of my mares are OK when they are in heat , I did have one that was a bit overwhelming she would try to run backwards towards the stud pen when I was on her ! well she tried once ,and I explained to her clearly ,that THAT WAS NOT OK!

  6. Gracie,totally a cool mare. She has never had a "bad" season, but for those few days, well? She gets a bit wooly headed. Sort of lackadaisical. Slow to respond and delightfully laid back! Having said all that! She can be quite vocal, esecially when Barney, the gelding passes by the paddock! But then, what use is he?

  7. Oh, I'm hungry! :-)

    I have problems with keeping my guy focused. How long are your "long sets" when you trot/walk patterns to get her focus back?

  8. Your dinner looks DIVINE!!

    I totally get the mare thing, in fact I'm so used to it now I hardly notice it anymore.

  9. Mares. . .love or hate 'em right? I love 'em!

    Sinner looks delish!

  10. Good for Maisie and good for you to cope so well with her preoccupation. Well done.

    Dinner looks delicious.


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