Thursday, April 7, 2011

One on the list

My Thoroughbred mare Washashe, is very opinionated.

She is the first mare I have owned aside from my pony Trixie.  But at age 7, I was not observing Trixie's Nature so much. She was  my pony, and maybe I noticed a heat cycle...but truly now, I do not recall it.  I don't recall her ever balking at anything we did or anywhere we went.
After nearly 25 years without a horse-all the learning has come whoosh bang-fast and hard! Reasons for behaviour can be simple and sometimes, very complex.

Washashe mare of course, is somewhat touchy and reactive during the sensitive times of season. And there is the pre season and the post season times as well .(it seems "~'  )
 I take her into account and  change/diminish the amount what I may ask her to do -accordingly.
It's tough being Washashe, and at that time, it's even harder! Focus is disturbed and I am like an nat bugging her, so to make sure it's not tough being me, her rider!  I do take care and like I said, I diminish greatly what we do.

 I care for her  and the things she goes through. I want to acknowledge them, and also be a smart manager of my horse. It is what it is, nature at it's finest and I try helping her through the symptoms by giving her Raspberry leaves. Fresh in the summer, I dry them myself, and through the other times, I buy bulk organic. It does seem to take the edge well as for us women too..Raspberry tea is very good.

THAT isn't really ON THE LIST of disliked RIDING THINGS ( I'M the only thing on that season list) Wa mare has..that is just nature.

Her LIST begins with- and is not limited to:
  2. Riding in rain that is moving sideways, in wind
  3. Riding through deep muddy bogs
  4. Riding through thick underbrush ( or a deep wooded area with narrow, uneven trails)
  5. Slippery trails (second only to)
  6. Steep, slippery trails
  7. Hills with rocks
  8. Creeks with large rocks
  9. Riding near or around fiercely barking or lunging at us- DOGS ( when she even hears a dark bark, she is high alert)
  10. CLIFF edged trails
  11. Riding near llama's (this may be taken off the list soon~)
 ALL the above- being in back!

I understand  why she dislikes all of them. As much as I sometimes want that trail horse that is oblivious to-some-or  most of those things... I have ridden THAT horse over the past 4 years..and let me tell you- I AM HAPPY WITH MY MARE!!
 She is honest and true about her dislikes, I just need to know the terrains we travel and make wise decisions.
FORTUNATELY, there are many destinations here where we live, to meet the safety needs of riding in any weather!

 I can mix & match some of the dislikes - And get a fine ride in on my mare .

I dismount for some bad hills, she settles and is able to pick her way without my weight atop. She also frets about being hit in the mouth ( why I like bit less for the trails) is she gets upset and rushes or slips. Though, my sign to her if bited, is to put my hand upon her withers with the reins, so she may pick and choose her way without my hands moving at all. She does honor this most times, by going slower and methodically so.

When she dislikes something she rushes..."get this crap thing over with!"  Her nervousness towards an area and it's terrain, it has gotten us in BIG trouble in the past. Her falling or almost falling.  Doing laterals or backing or anything that involves pressure =AMPS HER HORSEY ENGINE UP!
So to dismount is to be safe.

ROCKY HILLS and rocky creeks. I put hoof boots on her. As Long as she has  something to grab onto with the boots, she is good. But riding onto slicker trails with boots, NEVER again! She starts to dance with nervousness, to keep herself upright.

Wind riding-is okay without the rain involved AND if I stay to the open areas. She can clearly see the predators there..they won't pounce on her from a tree above! Being smack -dab-in the middle of the it is moving in wind..I have found- makes for a wild ride as she wishes to get out of it!

DOGS we can conquer, if I speak aloud to the dog. It  is likened to my "Trail Opera". Speaking loudly or singing seems to cover the scarey times and she settles.
If I know the dog is contained, I can take my time with her approaching and stopping, settling and then again moving forward. If we are somewhere ( I try NOT to go to these places) where the dogs may be off leash..I am prepared to jump off and defend her. She knows this too..I have defended her before by hacking a pit bull in the face as it B-lined for her hind legs.
NOW,  I'd  probably just spray it with my Bear mace!!

THICKLY UNDERBRUSHED forest trails or beach trails.
 I won't do the beach trails unless I know they have been trimmed..those  scrubby trees and sage bushes really gouge, poke and scratch!
 If I have to 'Off Trail it" because of downed trees or an obstruction...she gets nervous with the sinking ground and poky untrimmed, me leaning over and such. We do it all the time, and I know she dislikes it but sometimes-you gotta do-what you gotta do!

IF IT'S STEEP uphill and dry..we go for it. If it is not dry, I dismount, place the rein on the halter ring and undo the other side, get behind her and hold her tail ( if bitless-connect both rings)...she knows what to do now and we walk up ( I mean really Steep) the  trail together!
If it is a downhill steep...I walk besides her, holding  the stirrup leather for ballast. These past months being bareback.. I hold onto the girth ring or pomel grab strap.

So, though it may seem a rather large list for a trail horse...  I Keep in mind, these places we go to are not on the trail maps, most times. They are being forged by us, and reestablished as  usable trails.
ALL The ways she  does come through for me on trail rides, with her level head and willingness to try. Her athletic ability and  ability to rarely tire.
  Her trot...oh man, her floaty trot..others are cantering to keep up, and she is floating in trot!
Her being a mare and a Thoroughbred mare at that, has me smitten with all she does with me!

LOVE does not cover my emotion for this mare-o-mine.  I do LOVE her deeply, but more than that, I admire her so much. For all the trials she seems to hand me sometimes, I actually am handing her the same ones...she is just talking to me through her opinion and reality of the issues! The longer I know her, the more I accept her for who she is. She just about has me trained to her liking!!

 I am hers and she is mine..that is the long and short list of it~



  1. What a nice post!

    I've learned to leave my mare alone when she's in heat. It's only two days a month and then she goes back to being her sweet self. I think I'll look into those raspberry leaves for her though.

  2. I'm confused about the fresh raspberry leaves. Are you only feeding them after they are dried? Or feeding them fresh and drying some for later??

    Sounds like you two have your relationship worked out pretty well so it works for both of you. That should make for happy human and happy horse. Good for you.

  3. I can always tell Wa-mare is happy with her job. She just looks so content!

    Miss Promise has really only ever been bad/cranky/whatever that very first spring heat. In the last couple of years, that has diminished quite a bit, as she's "middle-aged" now so the first heat of the season isn't as intense. But generally, even if she's just a little bit "off" of what is normal for her personality, I still have to look to be sure! I definitely lucked out in the mare department!!

  4. I think it doesn't get any better than this post, it really doesn't. What a wonderful description of the two of you working to become what you are together. Made my day.

  5. A couple horses at our barn are on Mare Magic and it seems to help them.
    Your horse has opinions because you allow her to and listen to her! That is a great thing!
    Happy trails, whatever kind they may be... with both "likes" and "dislikes" ;-)

  6. You and your mare seem to be great partners, it’s so good that you really understand all the things your horse does for you, so many people just take it for granted.

  7. This post made me *smile*

    Wa mare is as lucky to have you as you are to have her I think. :)

    Perfect thing to read tonight as my gelding was feeling a little, make that very, opinionated himself today.

    I hear, and I obey Valentino!!

  8. Very nice!
    Wa's mare is so pretty and thick.

  9. That should say mane! Wa's mane is so pretty and thick!

  10. Our mares are so much alike. Except add mules to the list. She has a love/hate relationship with them.

  11. How wonderful that you've reached this level of understanding with each other!!

  12. What a great post, it seems that you have a wonderful partnership.

  13. Wa is so lucky to have you listening to her. You two take the time to take care of each other and that is why you share nice rides.

    I am lucky - I was just thinking yesterday - my boys don't mind wind.

    We don't get to experience the other things you guys do because we don't have those great trails out in the steep, wet, wild west.

  14. What a great post! You and Wa are a super great team. So many people don't listen to their horse or try to help them through times when they are nervous or afraid. You and your Wa mare, the best of the best and she loves you for it!

  15. Wa and I are mostly alike except I don't mind llamas, and I don't mind being in the rear. (Also, she's quite a bit younger than me - I no longer have a "season"...)

  16. I just love that you can get off and follow her up a steep slope and she knows what to do. All in all an amazing trail horse. You've worked out all of your obstacles together. And most trail horses don't have her wonderful gaits. I've learned so much about the versatility of Thoroughbreds by reading blogs.

  17. Compromise, it's all about compromise as an old cowboy friend of mine says. Beamer has a strong opinion about muddy creek crossings- the kind where the creek is only about a foot wide and the mud stretches for 2 or 3 feet on either side. He thinks he should jump them. I think he should walk through them- so we compromise; I walk, he jumps!

  18. This is now officially my favourite post of yours! ;-)

  19. A lovely post, it is so nice to read about the great relationship you have with your mare.
    My poor Spotty had a bad start in life before I bought him, he is a depressed pony and if he was human then I guess he would be taking Prozac. All I can do is give him as much love and understanding as possible. The raspberry tea sounds good... think I could use that more than my pony! Have a great week with Washashe, Abby x

  20. It is so wonderful to have such great "horsey blog" friends, like you, in the world! I have learned so much and your words, in particular, are so encouraging to me.

    Your Wa reminds me of my Arabian mare. I too try to be empathetic when she's in season and am thankful that she at least is sweeter to "me" during that time. I also give her "Mare Magic" but never thought about giving her my own raspberry leaves! What an awesome idea!

    I have let too many people, for too long, make me feel silly about dismounting when I was nervous and my mare was too. As a result I have been thrown a couple of times (mine doesn't like trail along a rocky cliff) that truly could have been avoided if only I had trusted my instinct and her body language. But I definitely have your supportive words to hold on to and won't make that mistake again. Thanks for this excellent post.

  21. I love watching the world go by through your Mare's ears, I find it relaxing. The heat thing ...I don't know my Mares still go about their business, I don't do anything different because of them.

  22. totally am pleased that this touched so very many horse lovers and riders. I only have my mare and she only has me so it is always besat to try to work through behavioual things..butwhen the behaviour is such a constant, instead of trying to change her(like some have tried to get me to on year 5 now) I am tired of fighting and am now "working with" my mare and her phobias and displeasurable dislikes..she is very cosistant about what they are and just today>>>while wearing hoof boots...we made the mistake of taking a trail that LOOKED dry enough to ride..NOPE..very slick..but through her dancing and cantering in place, she never once pulled the reins to go faster..I have learned, that is how she stays upright with smooth slippers on! She is such a good girl.(most the time "~')

    So, happy that there may be others out there that strive to learn about what the horse has to say instead of always writing it off as "Bad horsey". Sometimes she is that...but in these instances we work it out as described!


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