Saturday, 28 January 2012

I Hate Being Unsure

Sorry for two ranting posts in a row...hopefully after this I'll stop being annoyed for awhile.  Socks was great today, we didn't get to ride outside but she was perfect.  She was a bit social, she kept trying to go over to all the other horses but other than that she was fine. 

The problems came with some of the people today and an incident last week.  Until last year, when they came down to the stable, the horses had always been at my dad's, our own place.  I'm still getting used to having other people around and I try very hard to not get in the way of anyone or annoy anyone.  I'm pretty paranoid about it to be honest, I feel awful having all three of the horses in the barn together and Artemis is usually tied up at the same stall as Socks and Jimmy because I'm afraid to annoy someone who wants to have their horse tied up where she was. 

I guess my question is, where do you draw the line?  When does possibly annoying other people become more important than what your horse is doing/learning?  To me, whatever you're doing with your horse should never physically affect anyone else, person or animal.  Such as your horse getting in another horse's space, for example.  Which unfortunately is an very bad problem at this stable. 

My first problem came from that.  Jimmy, is a puller.  Not everyone knows that since I don't feel the need to put a sign on his tail saying "Beware, may pull".  He has not pulled in months, but I'm not stupid enough to think that he won't ever do it again.  So we're careful with him.  And normally, it's not an issue.  But there was this one girl, it was the first time I've met her, who brought her horse in and brought him to the stall next to Jimmy.  That wasn't the problem, the problem was, she didn't tie him.  Which would not have been a problem had he been standing right up to the stall....but he was standing in the middle of the aisle.  It was difficult to bring my saddles out around.  It made me nervous since I also don't know the horse and didn't know what would spook him.  But moving past that, the problem really began when she tried to bridle him.  He didn't want to take the bit and had he been tied up, it wouldn't have been an issue.  But since he wasn't, he was moving all over the place and kept moving into Jimmy's space, just centimetres from walking right into him. 

What gets Jimmy to pull is physical discomfort, such as being bumped into.  The horse never actually did touch him, but he was very close at times.  I stood next to Jimmy and just watched, but I wanted to be beside him to keep him calm and distracted.  Is it reasonable of me to turn to her and ask her to be more careful with her horse so mine doesn't pull back?  We've worked very hard with Jimmy and his pulling back, and he's come so far.  It'd be terrible for something like that, so easily avoidable to set him off.  She might not have known Jimmy is a puller, but even if it were Socks or Artemis who had been beside the horse, I wouldn't have been comfortable with how close he was getting.

Today was because of Artemis.  She's still learning how to be calm in the barn, at all times, so we bring her in with us and I usually do a bit of work with her after we ride.  Today, there were three other people there so she couldn't come in the arena while we rode.  Instead, we put her into Zanza's stall.  We have M's permission to use the stall whenever Zanza isn't in it so that's the stall she always ends up going in.  Well today, she was in a bit of a mood.  She was calm at first but she had food in the stall with her.  Once she finished, she started calling and throwing a bit of a temper tantrum.  It was annoying, it was annoying even me but she wasn't hurting anything or anybody. 

This is where I am torn.  Should I have taken her and put her back in her field so she didn't annoy the other people, or should I have left her?  I was still going to work with her and she was not actually affecting the other horses, she was just being noisy.  And my main issue was, if I were to go put her out, all that's going to teach her is to throw a fit and she'll get put back out in the field and I do NOT want her to learn that. 

She doesn't get away with things because she's a cute little baby, she gets disciplined and if Socks and Jimmy aren't allowed to do it, she isn't either.  But, I have really come to realize how her mentality and maturity are not where Socks and Jimmy's are.  She's still a baby.  She throw temper tantrums and if I fuss over her and try to get her to stop, they get worse.  The thing that works the best is to ignore her and she stops.  It's like she goes, "well that's just a bunch of hard work for me and I didn't get any attention...what's the point of it?"  When she throws a little fit about being alone in the barn, I usually let her have her little temper tantrum and ignore her (so long as she isn't a danger to herself or anyone else) and she'll quit it.  And usually, the next time it happens, it's not near as bad. 

So she was in the stall, throwing a fit.  Mainly, she was calling a lot because the horse who had been tied across from her was taken outside.  It was annoying, she's so high-pitched, but it was just calling.  The boarder who had just returned from putting her horse out was around the lockers.  Artemis called out again and she turned around and yelled at her, "Calm down over there!"  And then she turned towards the arena and yelled "Whose horse is this?"  I didn't actually reply, because honestly, I couldn't believe she'd just yelled at my horse.  One of the other ladies we were riding with just turned to look at her and very calmly said "It's the baby."  The boarder who yelled didn't say anything else and left. 

Before I sound totally crazy, it's not that she yelled at Artemis that stopped me, it was her tone.  It was really, really...bitchy is the only way to say it.  What she said in it's self was not bad, it was how she said it.  I know, without hearing her I sound like a crazy, overprotective "Don't even look at my horse!" kind of person but I swear I'm not.  I don't mind people talking firmly to my horses, telling them to quit.  I don't mind people giving them pokes when they misbehave, but I do not appreciate people yelling at my horses, especially how she did.  I try my hardest not to yell at them because I find getting to that point doesn't do any good.  I've tried very hard to raise Artemis as calmly as possible.  Not to say she doesn't get in trouble, I am very firm with her, but when I discipline her I do in levels.  I start off calmly and slowly raise the intensity if she doesn't quit.  I don't start off with a high intensity because I want her to learn to quit before I have to get up there. 

Honestly, it was her tone that did it.  It was so angry and mean and I really felt it was uncalled for.  I really don't have a problem with people telling me to come calm my horse down, but yelling at my horse with that much negativity behind it (I'll admit it, I truly believe the energy you give off affects horses) is not going to make her calm down.  And it didn't.  She did shut up for a second when she was yelled at, but she started up again. 

See, now this where I'm really troubled.  Should I have brought Artemis out when she started being noisy?  I know my stable owners would have been of the opinion that I should have left her in the stall.  She needs to learn to be calm in the stable, both while tied and while in a stall.  Maybe there's a better way to do it, but none of us know how.  But then, while I would be making the other boarders happy, I'd be teaching my horse that if she throws a fit, she gets rewarded by going back out to the pasture, and that is not something I ever want her to learn.  See my problem?  In this case, what was more important, pleasing the other people there or finishing a lesson with my horse?  If Artemis had been in the aisle throwing a fit, I would have done a lot more about it, but in a stall she can make noise but can't do anything to the other horses or people.  I'm not really sure if I made the right choice or not. 

Sorry for rambling on about this forever, I'm just really unsure if I should have left her in the stall or if I should have taken her back out.  I really don't want to annoy other people, but I also don't want my horse to learn bad habits.  Sigh, I know I've been at the stable for a year but sometimes I really have no idea of what to do or what not to do.

Moving on, I did work with her once we were done riding.  I'm trying to get her to move past me, so when I eventually teach her to lunge she'll be able to do it.  I'm not sure whose worse at it, me or her.  She tries, she'll walk by me a few steps and then stop and turn and face me.  She was trying, she really was.  After that I sort of worked on teaching her how to ground-tie.  Socks used to ground tie (not so much anymore as I stopped making her a long time ago) and how I teach them is to have their lead on them, drop it on the ground and say "Stand."  I was actually really surprised with Artemis.  She usually tries to follow you but after a few times of leading her back and saying "Stand" again, she began to get it.  I was able to get around 15 feet away from her before she started walking towards me. 

I also had a lady at the stable tell me a lot of things about my horse that just...aren't my horse.  I'm kind of wondering if she got Socks mixed up with another horse because the horse she described was not Socks.  She did end the conversation by telling me Socks was stupid, I always appreciate getting told that.  We don't usually see the ladies who were at the stable today....and I can't say I'm upset about that.  The people we usually see are all so nice.  We all get along well and it's just fun when they're there.

Oh before I go, the ponies were supposed to have their feet done this weekend.  My farrier is my brother, whose a farrier student at Olds College.  Yeah, despite working with hot metal, sharp tools and live animals every day, he gets injured slamming his hand in a door at the bar and cannot work with anything right now.  He hurt his hand so badly they had to drill a hole into one of his finger nails to relieve the pressure in his hand.  I'm being a horrible unsympathetic sister and bugging him how his job isn't going to be the thing to kill him, his partying is.  The ponies are going to have to wait one more week to get their feet done, when his hand is hopefully better.


Megan said...

You did the right thing leaving her in the stall. She wasn’t physically affecting anyone and like you said, taking her out would just teach her bad manners. If she doesn’t learn now, she will have to learn when she gets older and a full grown horse would be MUCH more annoying than a foal to everyone involved. You don’t sound crazy, because I could imagine the tone in my head lol. If she keeps making a big deal of it, just say something like “Would you rather me teach her when she’s a foal, or when she’s 3 and trying to tear the stable down?”
She probably had a bad ride or something.

All I can say about the lovely conversation regarding Socks is to completely ignore it. Truly knowledgeable horsemen/women don’t go around calling horses stupid. Unless they have a mental defect (including PTSD), no horse is stupid and I’m of the opinion that when someone calls a horse stupid, they’re showing their own ignorance. I recently read a book and I got the very distinct impression that the people who know most about horses don’t go around preaching about it to everyone – they’re the quiet ones who only speak up when they’re asked for help or when someone (horse or human) is in trouble. You know Socks better than them, so their opinion about her really doesn't matter.

Ally said...

I understand your defensiveness completely. I wouldn't people want yelling at anything/one of mine. Artemis wasn't doing anything dangerous, she was just being annoying, and let's face it, the people at your stable are twice as annoying as her sometimes.

Megan said...

Well, here's my thoughts...

The girl in your first story should have tied up her horse. Plain and simple. She's not the only one in the barn and it sounds like her horse either isn't that well trained or is kind of bratty, so she definitely should have tied him up.

Secondly, I think it was fine to leave Artemis in the stall. You can tell the girl she is a baby, so she's still learning her manners and if the girl is still bitchy, then that's just how she is and you shouldn't go out of your way just because she'll bitch at you.

Horse people are a special kind of people sometimes.