|" That's not a saddle, is it ?"|
Have you ever had a horse that really despises being ridden and gives the impression he believes he is being forced against his will to do exhausting work for an excruciating period of time--even if he's only being worked lightly for an hour or so a few times a week? Well, I do, and his name is Blue. The worst part of this scenario is that I actually feel guilty about riding him because I know he doesn’t want me to. He makes his feelings known by making me hike out to get him while he plays the “I can’t see or hear you game,” all the while munching away. My other favorite is his sighing when I put the saddle on his back. Blue can be very dramatic if I do say so myself.
Just the other day I put Blue in the side paddock so he wouldn’t high-tail it to the back pastures. By the time I got done with some chores, I decided not to ride because it was so hot and humid. In other words, the governor called and he got a reprieve. When I released him through the gate to his usual pastures, he took off at a gallop and didn’t stop until he was waaaay out back. That certainly tells me something. Whoopee, no riding today and I am so outta here!
The question is how do you get a horse to enjoy his job? Personally, I think it’s just Blue’s personality. He’s very smart, very lazy and a horse unto himself. He seems to need no one, not even the herd. Blue is a horse that is very comfortable with himself whether completely alone, standing in the middle of a deer herd or on the top of the manure pile in the dumpster (which I’ve seen him do.) He seems to be oblivious to the world around him until a gate is left open, then he’ll make a beeline and be out of the gate in a flash. So he does know what’s going on, he just doesn’t seem to care.
I’ve come up with a plan to try and interest him in working and, more importantly, enjoying himself. From now on after our walking warm-up we’ll start right out with trotting some cavelletti because that seems to perk him up. His ears come to attention and his pace picks up (Blue only enjoys jumping, but I’m not ready for that just yet.) Then we’ll dispense with the trotting and canter a bit then maybe move on to some more trotting. Of course, there can’t be two days in a row of this, so on every other day he needs to go out on a trail ride with some hacking in the field thrown in for good measure.
In my opinion it is very important to keep a horse’s work interesting. The more Blue finds something that will challenge his mind and talent, the more he will enjoy his time with me. If I set him up to succeed even with the smallest challenges and offer lots of praise, hopefully he’ll start to look forward to seeing me coming towards him with saddle and bridle. Then again, we’re talking about Blue here and nothing I do may change his mind. He was born with his own personality and set of rules to live by.
If anyone has had a horse like Blue I’d be interested to hear how you got him over his “I hate to work” attitude.
Until next time
Quote for Today
The horse thinks one thing and he who saddles him another.
- Benjamin Franklin-