Thursday, February 11, 2010

My horse, the jerk

We’ve been having a problem with Galahad and the indoor arena lately. Partly it’s because we love letting him loose to run and roll and play with Midnight or Romeo. But he has gotten to the point where that’s all he wants to do in there—he thinks of it as his playpen.

Unless, that is, our trainer is on his back. Paul does not let him get away with anything like that, no matter what tricks Galahad tries to pull. Paul makes him work. And that may be the source of the other reason for Galahad’s dislike of the arena—he associates it with having to work hard. And he is very,
very lazy.

Whatever the case, we’ve decided we need to address it, because when the weather is really bad like it’s been lately, the indoor arena is the only place to ride.

Last night it seemed to us that Galahad settled down and was more willing to work with us after we had asked him to do some groundwork exercises that were a little more complex than just stopping, backing, following, and easy things like that. So today I decided to try that before I got on his back in the arena.

I worked Galahad on the ground for a while, and he seemed to be fine. But when I saddled him up and got on him, he made it clear that he did not care to have me on his back, thank you very much. He proceeded to show his displeasure with ears back and the world’s slowest plod. When I finally managed to speed him up at all, he’d trot immediately, refuse to be steered with leg pressure or reins, and then, when I slowed him down, go back to plodding.

He tried to scrape me off on the wall—he insisted on side-stepping right over, “just so I could get off,” it seemed. He tried to stop at the mounting block; he tried to stop in the middle of the arena.

What a jerk! I was pretty frustrated. I tried putting the halter back on him, thinking he might be objecting to the bit. That seemed to help a little, but he was still a butt-head. Finally I got him to trot more or less consistently down the length of the arena in the center; at each end I had him do a tight turn, one way or the other, and trot back the other way. We did this five or six times, until he did it relatively nicely. Then I stopped him, backed him up, flexed his neck in both directions, and got off.

I had him carry his tack out to the car, where he stood quietly while I unsaddled him. Then I led him out to the pasture. That little begger: Once inside the gate, rather than running off like he usually does, he just stood there nice as you please, with his nose buried in my coat collar, breathing me in, breathing on me, and nuzzling.

I’m still annoyed. But I cannot be angry with him when he does that. I just love him to death, jerk or no. He’s playing me; a friend says he’s like her teenager, who’s a piss-ant one minute and terminally charming the next.

I love my horse. He’s such a jerk.

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