Monday, September 12, 2011

Pie Bites, and Several Good Rides

An odd thing happened on Saturday - on Saturday the boarders volunteer in rotation to bring the horses in and feed them.  Pie was in his paddock, and when Sugar's owner went to bring him in, as she led him out of his paddock gate and then turned to close the gate, he bit her on the upper arm.  He didn't break the skin, but you can see distinct tooth marks and her upper arm is very bruised and swollen.  Unfortunately she didn't say anything to him about it - she was too shocked and let the opportunity pass - so he may try it again, at least with her.  He's never bitten me or even tried to, so I can't imagine what must have caused this - not that it matters - biting is never excusable.  I cautioned her and the other boarders to never let slip any instance of ear-pinning or nudging, or pushing into their space - immediate backing should occur if any of those happen.  Pie has made a "Pie face" or two at me from time to time, but I immediately move into his space and back him up.  The only time he ever looked seriously mad at me was when I hissed at him - I haven't asked Sugar's owner if that's what she did, but something seriously bothered him (again, no excuse).  Very odd.  Yesterday when our regular p.m. barn lady was bringing in, I went up with her when she got Pie, and nothing out of the ordinary happened at all - or has ever happened in the nine months she's been leading him in 6 days a week.  Today I asked him to do various things for me - stop grazing, move away from, let me pick his feet while loose, and not once did he show any signs of crabbiness or aggression.  Whatever happened with Sugar's owner is a mystery to me - but I'll be keeping a close eye on him.

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I've had a series of very nice rides on all three of my horses.  Saturday I rode Dawn - first time in over three weeks.  Her neck is looking very good - just some bare black skin and a few remaining scabs and pleats - I actually groomed it gently with a soft curry and she seemed to enjoy it.  Whenever I ride Dawn, I have to adjust - she is so responsive and so forward that only a whisper of aids is required - otherwise you end up riding a rocket ship.  We did some lovely walk and trot work - not too long as she's out of shape - including spiral in/out and leg yield - with Dawn all you have to do is add a pound of pressure to the stirrup on the side you want her to move to and she's there.  It reminds me why I appreciate her despite her hot temperament and reactiveness - she really tells you about what you're doing (or over doing) - she teaches me to be subtle and quiet.

Sunday Pie and I tackled the trail again, by ourselves.  We rode out about a half mile - well out of sight of the barn, to where there's some nice grass and a set of rocks - I got off, loosened his girth and took his bridle off and let him graze for a bit.  Then I got back on and we rode a ways farther - the farthest we've been solo since our accident.  He was getting somewhat nervous and high-headed, so I dismounted and we walked together the rest of the way, stopping from time to time to admire the sights or look at strange objects.  He did very well, staying right with me but out of my space and adjusting his pace to mine.  We admired things like hockey nets, large farm sprinklers, laundry drying on lines, and other things. One bicycle coming up fast from behind caused him to scoot a few steps, but he calmed right down. I got back on close to the barn, and we rode around there for a bit.  It was good.

Monday, Drift was up.  It was warm and very windy, and he was great.  We had a short, intense work session in the arena, working on transitions and also spiral in/out, leg yielding and turn on the forehand.  He's really getting it and his overall softness and ability to concentrate are really improving.

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I really appreciate all the kind/thoughtful words in the comments on my last post - it's a great and supportive horse blogging community that we have!


  1. This is kind of a bizarre comment but... a few years ago Brett was grooming Flash and Flash bit Brett on the chest. It was odd, never had happened before, etc. A few months later, Brett went to the doctor and they found a suspicious spot on his chest that turned out to be melanoma. In the exact same spot. Flash's behavior hasn't happened since... it just makes you wonder. I think they sense things.

  2. Seems like you've had great rides on all the horses. Dawn reminds me a lot of how Dusty is to ride. Strange about Pie biting and interesting what Annette said. Glad you're having a nice time with the horses and getting in good work with them too.

  3. Good job on riding! Shyloh seems a lot like Dawn, very responsive. Too much so for me at this point.

    That is strange about the bite!

    Annette - Dogs can sense cancer, strokes, diabetes, epilepsy, I wonder about horses, too? Animal's senses are usually way more intense than ours!

  4. I like the way you handled your Pie ride. "Investigating" stuff on foot can be just as fun and educational as mounted, and a great way to get out and rebuild you, and Pie's confidence.
    Dawn sounds like she would be a fun horse to ride.

  5. Kate, Glad you had good sessions with each of your horses. And glad you are feeling mentally better about them. I read your last post and wanted to offer encouragement as well. I'm glad you had a good time with the horses. That is unusual for Pie to bite - it may never happen again, but it is good that all the handlers are aware of the best way to work around her.

  6. Your rides sound happy and good. Pie biting is weird. Annette's comment is very interesting.

  7. Spirit used to bite - only my daughter and only if I wasn't around. I felt it was a power trip, horse style, picking on someone in the human herd he could dominate.

    He never bit adults. Only kids. And never too hard (in horse terms).

    I wonder if Pie's lack of confidence lately and the biting are related. Smokey was a real jerk when I had emotionally distanced myself from him - I really let him down and he was floundering and pushing people around. I had to get very, very strong to get him back to his "true" self, a loving, sweet natured horse.

    Just a thought.

  8. So glad to hear you've had several nice rides and that Pie and you had such a relaxing adventure thru the trails. I think you both needed it.
    Odd Pie biting like that. Week of the full moon perhaps? I do agree it's unexcusable (can't spell)

  9. Sounds like things are going in the right direction. By the way, you deserved all those fabulous comments in the post below. You are a very unique and special horsewoman!

  10. He didn't bite hard so maybe he was trying to get her attention... ? (I'm not saying a light bite is OK, though) Obviously he was irked at something. Maybe he just wanted OUT... when I get Oberon I make all the other geldings walk away from the gate by creating energy towards them with my rope. Otherwise, it would be a rather pushy mess...

  11. As you said, no excuse for it , but the odd time I have known a horse to nip or bite,(or rather try) to assert dominance , or just to garner wattention. Is Sugars owner a fairly quiet low key person?

  12. Sounds like a wonderful week (except for that one lil' hiccup with teeth). There is always a reason and it could be anything from perfume to personality (hers) or anywhere in between. I'd be curious as to the cause as well. I absolutely agree with Annette too, that horses sense things (though I certainly hope that's not it!)

    I know when miss Taya discovered she could boss Sara around it gave her confidence a boost and she got pretty sassy with me right after - though it took me a bit to puzzle out where the sudden aggressive attitude came from ;o) Younger horses often test the boundaries; Taya, who is also five (isn't Pie five?), will "test the waters" every once in awhile to see if she gets to push anyone else around yet. The answer's always an unequivocal "No". *grin* Have there been any new additions at the barn anywhere that he outranks? That may have encouraged him to check his status. The fact that she did not react is probably not good as she unintentionally accepted it (I have totally had those moments where your brain just doesn't compute a completely unexpected behavior fast enough to address it).

    Anyway, it's just a thought (and a mighty long one too; sorry :o\ *wince*

  13. Good for you, you're getting your groove back. Since your last post, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what you and everyone else had to say. I think it's helping.

    Does Mark Rashid ever deal with human fears in his clinics? I know in a couple of his books he talked about problems he had with confidence, but I don't know if he coaches others through it. It would be interesting to see his approach.

  14. That is really odd about Pie, especially given his other odd behaviors recently (the affront when you hissed, the fact he seems to have more nervousness on the trail).

    You've written that you believe the confidence problems since your fall has affected his behavior, but you sell yourself short sometimes, give your horses expert guidance and you clearly know them all very well. I could be wrong, but I really don't think all of Pie's behavior can be chalked up to what happened and your feelings's been quite a while, and you've worked with him a lot since that happened.

    The fact that he's also behaving strangely with other folks may be a clear sign that there is indeed something else going on with him.

  15. I'm so glad to hear you had good rides on all your horses this week. I think it's a great approach to your riding and you and the horses will all benefit.

    I had to laugh at what you said about Dawn: "Whenever I ride Dawn, I have to adjust - she is so responsive and so forward that only a whisper of aids is required - otherwise you end up riding a rocket ship." That sounds so much like Lilly!! Our girls are very much the same. :)


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