Every day is a learning experience, either for myself or for Cookie. Today was a learning moment for both of us.
First I have learned that Cookie doesn't like cloudy, rainy days. When the weather turns nasty, she does too. Pins her ears, & can even get nippy. So my first lesson is: The next time it's feeding time, take my driving crop (it's all I have at the moment) & back her up away from me while I'm walking to the hay shelter to feed her. She gets impatient, tries to walk over me & ahead of me on the way. Remembering back to before I got her, she was in with 4 other mules & she would become aggressive towards them especially during meal time. When the weather turned nasty, she did too.
I had worked with her on backing up away from me when it was feeding time, but she seems to have forgotten that important detail from feeding to feeding. Even though I'm consistent in my actions & requests, it doesn't seem to be sticking in her brain. Until she gets what I'm asking of her, we'll keep doing it until it becomes a learned behavior & sticks into her memory. I won't tolerate nastiness, especially during meal times. Having said that, I do realize we all, horses included, have our bad days.
Second I have learned that Cookie doesn't like her shelter at night & I have found her several times on the West side of the house trying to stand under an awning that covers roughly 1/2 of her body. Interestingly enough, she tries to avoid this side during the day. Her shelter is 3 sided & the sides are closed in. I don't believe she has ever had shelter before & now she has one with a noisy tin roof. I'll have to see about cutting out some openings & maybe that will help her to see that there's nothing but squirrels, birds, rain, leaves, tree limbs making all that noise.
I have also learned that she was grouchy this same time last month. From what I have read about their cycles, they start going out of them during the Fall. Considering we have a relatively mild to even warm winter here in the south, maybe it confuses their bodies into thinking it's still fall... I'm not sure what the case is, but hopefully the Vet will be able to give me some insight in January. She doesn't appear to be in any pain, her mood/attitude is normal for the most part. She may be a little bored because we haven't been able to do any lunging or exercise for the past couple of days due to the weather. She nickers to me when I come out & even comes up to me for the most part especially when it's feeding time. Ears are up, she's alert. When she's eating her hay, she's usually in this sort of sleepy eyed slumber.
I always run my hands over her body, head to toe to tail in the mornings when she's eating. It gives me a chance to see if she's gotten into trouble during the night. I check for lumps, bumps, cuts, swelling & heat. When I see nothing is different or out of place, I go about my chore of removing manure from her paddock & making sure she has water.
Cookie is the first horse I have ever owned so all of these things are sort of new to me. When I was a kid, most of the stuff I do now, was done by my parents. They looked after the "big" stuff, while I did my chores & rode. If I saw something that wasn't quite right, I'd tell them & they'd take care of it. Now it's my turn to learn all that stuff. We've had mares, geldings & even a couple of stud horses. I don't think I ever took the mares' cycles into account before because I rode so many different horses. For the most part, they didn't hang around long because of it being a business of buy, sell & trade.
There will always be something to learn & something to be taught. The important thing to remember is to take things one step at a time. Some horses get it within a few times, others it takes longer. Be patient & above all, don't get yourself into a huff. If you feel yourself escalating out of control, your horse will follow suit & neither of you will be better off. Step back, take a deep breath, lose your attitude & calmly begin again. Never be in a hurry or try to rush through something, it always causes confusion & frustration for both you & your horse & that is what will be learned. There are no "bad" horses.... horses learn their antics from humans. If you don't want your horse to be "bad" & have an encyclopedia of bad behaviors, then either take them to a trainer & learn WITH your horse, or take your time to teach them what you want of them. Just do it one step at a time. Always review the learned thing when you work with your horse the next time then you'll know if your horse has actually learned it or not.
Above all, if your horse is not acting right or has come up with a new vice or attitude call your Vet & have them check to see if maybe they're in pain or there's something wrong on the inside that might be causing the new attitude or behavior. It's better to find out early if there's a problem.
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