Monday, January 18, 2010

Something To Do

There are many things I love about working with Thoroughbreds: they are intelligent, sensitive, inquisitive and playful. There are also many things that make Thoroughbreds difficult to work with: they are intelligent, sensitive, inquisitive and playful. Spider is no exception to the rule. Due to weather, holidays and general laziness on my part, I have not worked with Spider in quite some time. Too long, in fact. I can tell, because Spider has started misbehaving.

Spider, like any intelligent animal, is always seeking stimulation. He needs outlets for his mental and physical energy. The last time he was off work was at the end of my first pregnancy and the first four weeks after I delivered my daughter. In total, it was about 3 months. After the first month, Spider started getting testy. He would try to bolt at turnout, was nippy and fussy about being haltered and blanketed, cranky at feeding time and generally made the poor barn owner's life miserable (he was boarded at that time). As soon as I started back up with his training, he went back to his usual happy self.

This morning was sunny with just a little wind, so I opted to take the boys blankets off. They had been running and bucking and generally feeling good, so I figured they would appreciate a nice naked roll in the mud. Spider, in a rambunctious mood, gave me a playful little nip in the thigh as I leaned over to unbuckle the front of his blanket. He instantly regretted it. I'm fairly tolerant of horses being horses, but not when it comes to nipping. A horse of Spider's size can do considerable damage without even really trying (and I've got a bruise on my thigh to prove it!). While I did discipline him immediately for nipping, I really only treated the symptom. I still need to address the root of the problem: inactivity and boredom. So, I need to get him working before this behavior escalates.

The footing on the property is still a problem, it's muddy and slick and the ground is still somewhat frozen under the mud. I don't feel comfortable riding in those conditions, both for his safety and mine. I guess we'll just have to do groundwork for a little while, until the footing firms up. Which means I'll have to wrack my brain for things we can do on the ground that will be challenging enough to keep him busy, but don't involve a lot of physical activity. I don't want him to canter, or really even go beyond a collected trot in this footing. It will certainly be challenging for me to come up with something!


  1. Ground driving, then? Ugh. Nothing like cooped-up horses.

  2. Same kind of footing here. It is too treacherous to work Spider. And I have a sand arena...the under layer is still frozen and the top is soggy. What a mess.

    Since my Boys are turned out in their little herd, they take most of their energy out on each other, thankfully. I've been there with a bored Thoroughbred more than once and it is no fun! I've had a few bite bruises too, so my sympathy.

    Just be careful working him until the ground gets better. (It was great here for a few days last week. *sigh*...before the rain, that is.)


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