Trouble in Paradise, Part 1

amywink June 13th, 2010

Saturday was a trying day. We gathered up the gear and horses early and headed over to Agarita Ranch for the Heart of Texas Morgan Club meeting/Plum Creek CDE Volunteer Appreciation Day. We were harnessed and hitched before 8:45 to beat the heat as best we could. We did have a clouds on our side and a breeze that dented the humidity. Will did very well for harnessing and hitching, much better than in previous attempts. He even stood steady and asleep while Mary got in the carriage so we have had significant improvement there.

Generally, he was very good but as we got started, and left Windy behind with Lisa, he became increasingly agitated and nervous to be out “alone”–though there were other horses within sight of him. Still, we managed and worked through some spookiness as we headed down the trails into the woods. The recent rains made for deep going in spots and we faced several ponds along the way. Will did not care to get his precious feet wet so driving became somewhat of a challenge as he tried to pretzel his way around the puddles. We also had a good lesson in bravery as we had to go by the Plum Creek Shooting Society’s shooting targets on one trail. Will passed the buffalo cutout with just a wary look, but as we got closer and closer to the mountain goat figure, he was less and less sure it was wise to go any further, edging to the side of the trail, ready for retreat, until I tapped him on with the whip and we were able to safely scoot past unscathed. In all of this he was fairly strong-headed and it took a fair amount of strength to keep his mind on his work. He worked up a heavy sweat as I tried to keep him in a reasonable trot. He was much more spooky and jumpy than usual and it was certainly a different experience driving him this way.

We were out a long time, over an hour and a half, in what turned out to be a little over 8K–according to the GPS–so I decided to call it quits and get him (and me) cooled off. Sure enough, he stood for a nice rinse off without his usual dancing around. I got him cooled off and scraped off and let him watch Windy head around the dressage arena as he dried off.

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We also enjoyed standing for the group photo:

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Then the trouble started.

I put Will in a stall and he proceeded to go absolutely nuts. He had a bucking, rearing, kicking, screaming temper tantrum!! All because he couldn’t see any other horses. He kept this up for much longer than he should have, banging and kicking even after I put hay and water in his stall. Once he spotted one of the other horses, he settled a little but, but he never did calm down fully until Windy returned to her stall next to him. He had been having a few issues trailering recently and this confirmed the problem: herd bound. Since he became the bottom horse in the herd, he’s been suffering a little hysteria, when we trailered him to the vet. He drives well alone and will leave the pasture happily with me so there are no other issues, except being stalled at Agarita alone. But this was a full-on nuts-o-rama incident that we’d need to figure out what to do about.

to be continued……

One Response to “Trouble in Paradise, Part 1”

  1. Stevenon 14 Jun 2010 at 7:34 am

    Yikes! I guess I’d never thought of having to deal with the herd dynamic aspects of horse sociology. So hard to figure out. I’m forever trying to look at packs from a dog’s point of view, and failing at it pretty consistently.

    But it’s ultimately a good thing that he wants to be around other horses, right?

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