Friday, May 17, 2013

Spicing Things Up

Anyone who has ever been married, or been in any sort of long term relationship, can tell you that after awhile you reach a point where you just start ignoring your mate's insanely annoying behaviors.  I don't know if it's self-preservation, or just your brain's way of preventing you from committing a homicide, but you eventually learn to just tune out.

It's the same with horses.  For many years, I've only ridden Spider and he's only been ridden by me.  In many ways, that's a good thing.  Spider and I have a solid rapport.  I know exactly which buttons to push and when, to the point that he feels like an extension of my body.   That's a great feeling.

But, over the years, we've become like an old married couple.  I know him so well that nothing surprises me anymore, and so I let things slide.

Case in point: The house on the other side of my arena has recently been rented out to someone with approximately 100 dogs.  OK, that's a slight exaggeration.  There's three dogs, but they bark a lot.  I'm guessing they've never been around horses before, because they completely lose their minds every time I get a horse out.  Personally, I don't care.  The dogs can bark all they want because right now I've got 3 roosters that are way more annoying.  I won't complain about their dogs as long as they don't complain about my roosters.

Spider, on the other hand, has a pathological hatred of dogs.  I learned this when we boarded at a place where the owner had a gaggle of Jack Russells that Spider routinely tried to flatten.  We didn't stay there long, for some reason the owner didn't like us.

As soon as the dogs moved in I knew Spider was going to turn into the Incredible Hulk every time I rode near the dogs, and I resigned myself to my fate.  So, we'd go down the far long side and Spider would be all "Spider SMASH!" and I'd be like, "Seriously, can we just do this damn shoulder-in and be done with it?".

And then I started working Jack in the arena.  The first time we went down that long side, Jack never batted an eyelash.  And a light bulb went off in my head.  If the recently gelded 3 year old who has only lived here for two weeks doesn't care about the dogs, why am I tolerating stupid behavior from the well-trained 18 year old who has lived here for years?

Well, I'm not putting up with it anymore!   Now when he starts with the "Spider SMASH" Hulk routine, I start with the "Shannon SMASH" trainer routine.  No more ignoring it and doing half-assed work just to get it done with.  I've come to the realization that my horse can be a real jerk, and it's my job as his partner to help him be better than that.

P.S. If my new neighbors happen to read this, I'm very sorry for the new words your kids may have learned this week.


  1. Ahahahahahahaha!
    Poor neighbors...having to deal with swearing trainer hulk.

    Yup that is pretty much how it is for Trax and I. I'm the only one who rides him so his stupid stuff is just something we deal with. Now I go train with Mark and when he rides him, he does not put up with the rudeness. So that means I can't put up with it either. Damn!

  2. This is why I need a training ride on my horse weekly, because I am so good at coddling around their quirks!

  3. Ooh, been there, done that....the language too.

    Sounds as if Jack is proving to be as nice as you'd hoped. Now Spider has something to aspire to!

    Looking forward to the next report with improved behavior marks.

  4. The P.S. really made me laugh!

    An experienced trainer once told me that in the first year that you own a horse you train out all their vices. Any vices that remain (whether you notice them or not) are things that you are willing to tolerate. These will be different for each person/horse combination. I think that is just a natural part of any relationship. ;)

  5. Oh the poor kids next door!(seriously,they'll get used to it) I sometimes wonder what my neighbors think when I have a trucker's mouth first thing in the morning. It doesn't happen often, just when someone's being a jerk.

    I'm sure Spider will learn how to cope. We have two horses that dislike dogs. Donnie will try to smash them and Blue will charge them and he also takes offense to geese in his paddock and charges them like an outraged bull.


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