Thursday, November 24, 2011

Some Things Improve, Some Things Stay the Same . . .

Some things get better with time and some things stay the same.  A number of Drifter's prior issues have just melted away - picking his feet is now easy whether he's loose in the stall or on crossties - it's now reliable and he picks up each foot in turn as I go around.  His ridden work is much better and his ability to pay attention and focus is improved - yesterday he dealt well with Sugar tacking up outside the barn and leaving to go on the trail while we were working in the arena - he noticed and was distracted but was able to come right back to work.  He leads much better (caveat in next paragraph), and will even trailer load much better than he did after 6 months of not having worked on it at all.

But Mr. Drifter has also been displaying his "stallion" side lately - he isn't one, we've had him tested - but he likes to think he is and has many stallion-like behaviors.  Yesterday, he was attempting to get nippy with me while I was leading him, attempting to bite my hand, and was also trying to nip when my hand was near his face.  We had a conversation about that where I made it clear that wasn't acceptable, and praised him when he was behaving correctly, and also did some extra leading work after our riding session to reinforce good behavior.  When I turned him out in Pie's paddock (while Pie was out of it) for a while so his feet could benefit from the pea gravel, he walked around, sniffed every pile of Pie poo, and then selected a pile and made a precise "deposit" on top of it to express his dominance.  This morning while I was leading him to the turnout, we were walking by Dawn's paddock - she's coming into heat and was squealing and striking on the other side of the fence - and he decided that he since he was feeling pretty fresh - it was also cold and windy - it would be fun to do several large rears.  Each time he went up, I snapped the lead and told him "no" in a strong voice.  When he came back down and stood quietly for a moment, we went on with our walk.  He seems to get particularly obnoxious when one or more of the mares is in heat.

His behavior isn't particularly aggressive, although that sort of thing can get you hurt around horses so it's not acceptable.  He's more fresh and sassy and playful than aggressive - he clearly feels really good after his EPM treatment and wants to show off his prowess (particularly to Dawn).  When I tell him no, he falls into line pretty quickly but he's one, I think, who's always going to test the limits and see what he can get away with.  I also suspect that he may have been gelded late and have spent some part of his prior life as a stallion, so the behaviors may be more learned than hormonal.  I also suspect he wasn't properly socialized in a herd as a young horse and he can be very aggressive in a herd situation with the other geldings, again acting like a stallion - that's why he's on solo turnout.  One option might be to turn him out with the mares, but we haven't done that due to the risk of injury - Dawn is a pretty aggressive little horse herself and if he didn't injure her she'd quite likely injure him - he'd probably learn a good lesson but the cost might be too high. I suspect that over time, with consistent handling, some of these stallion-like behaviors may abate, but he certainly keeps me on my toes.

* * * * * *
A very happy Thankgiving to all of you in the United States!

No comments:

Post a Comment