Saturday, May 9, 2009

Alpha mare throw down

(My favorite post kicking horse butt snack)

I had had it. Done. Finito. Looking into sending my horse to France, if you know what I mean.

This morning I was given a few hours to myself, so I headed over to work our remuda. Two horses qualifies, right?

I decided I'd take Canyon out on a trail ride. Alone.

I know, I know. But he's been doing so well and I figured it was time.

Well, after a rather dramatic start where we were helping in rounding up an escapee, we headed out. No round penning this time.

We got a little ways on the trail and he was giving me his "you've got to be kidding. Riding? By OURSELVES? ARE YOU TRYING TO GET US KILLED?"

I was ready to tell him somebody around here was going to get killed, and it wasn't going to be me. We got about 5 minutes us the trail when he was just a mess. High stepping, looking everywhere, general freak out.

That's when I lost it. I got off and ground worked him with some serious pissed off ness. I cracked him on the butt hard and he was jumping out of the way. You could tell he was surprised, but I didn't care. "MOVE!" I yelled. "NOW!"

He moved and circled faster than ever, suddenly aware that I had my banshee on and therefore a far more immediate threat. The entire time I went on this diatribe about how I was done with his #$%t and was sick and tired of doing all this work so he could just freak out.

We walked (me leading from the ground) down the trail for a minute, my attitude still hot, until I came to the hill the trainer uses to build up hind ends. Perfect. I lead him up and down it once, then got on and had him take me up it about five times. Then we cut back to the barn area, rode in the front in a little side pasture over and over and over. At first he was slightly hesitant, then resigned. At that point I decided to try again.

We went back to the trail. This time we cut through trees, staying "off road" the entire time. I didn't get too far away, just in case.

And he behaved. He stopped balking and high stepping, he went where he was told and in general was like a sort of normal horse.

I had a similar situation with Lily - she's still giving me attitude about her back feet. The minute she misbehaved I grabbed her lead line and stomped her butt out in the parking lot to make her lunge and do a few fast "backs". I stomped back in, secured her and she raised her hoof as nice as can be.

And when I let them back into their areas, there were NO TURNED BUTTS.

This is, of course, very bad for my development as a person. I mean, I was just taught that if I get incredibly bitchy, my horses behave better. It's scary to think of applying this to other areas of my life...


You know, there's something wonderfully freeing about embracing your full alpha mare. It'll be interesting to see where it goes from here.


Trailrider said...

I can't stop laughing! LOL!

Seriously, I think you had a MAJOR breakthrough. The alpha leader of any herd does not take ANY guff, be it a gelding or a mare. And their position is challenged often. So the leader cannot afford to give in even a little bit. By showing you were done, that there was NOTHING that Canyon or Lily was going to get away with, you firmly secured your position in the herd, and they submitted. And the more you secure that position, quickly and firmly, the less often they'll challenge you.

Two thoughts that I'll share here that I've shared with you before, things that help me get in the mind set I use:

(1) If my life depended on riding a horse successfully and getting a job done, like a cowboy working a herd, I would HAVE to be firm from the word GO. My job and making money would depend on getting that horse out and working, NO nonsense allowed. That's how I try to approach my rides.

(2) "We could all be riding cows and eating horses". That saying is to remind me that these boogers are animals. They ARE beautiful, and they are capable of magnificence, but they can kill me in a heartbeat and not care. I have no problem remembering that cows are capable of great stupidity and can be unpredictable, but I have trouble remembering that horses are not ANY different. So while a relationship with a horse is what I'm after, it's a relationship where I get home in one piece and they do what I ask, period.

You made my day with your post. Happy Mother's Day!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

So, I read the caption of the cartoon and then looked at the lady's face, and burst out laughing. She's all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

Breathe said...

TR: Yeah, you're all exciting, but I'm going to be crazy to live with now. I suspect that alpha mareness could take me far.

NM: I love this cartoon. I'm making a t-shirt with it.

jacksonsgrrl said...

Good girl! Sometimes I have to pull ultra bitch with Jackson and the things he HATES the most because he knows he's in trouble are: if i'm on the ground and he's not behaving I back him up. WAAAYY back. Like 20 feet of going back. He was trained in his ground training that if he doesn't listen this is his discipline. If I'm on his back (and this one works FAB for us) and he decides to be mr. attitude or acts up, I start making tight ultra tiny circles. OVER and OVER again until he decides he wants to listen. Heck, maybe we just make so many circles he forgets what he was doing wrong! Those are both my reset button with my guy. And yes, sometimes there is quite a bit of bitchiness involved!!!! :)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

lol! That picture and your commentary just cracked me up. You are one tough chickeroo! Watch out Canyon. This lady doesn't put up with no fancy French horse meat! lol!

You are way tougher than me. I've done the bitchy alpha mare stuff with my mare...but it never ends. She's always testing me at every single ride.

I'm wondering if I'm just too passive, especially for my mare. I know there are willing, calm, giving horses out there...ones that don't feel it necessary to keep on testing their boundaries each and very time to such extremes.

I'd love to ride a horse that's just happy to go out do what I want...and have fun doing it, too. And respects me as it's leader always.

I hope Canyon's learned his lesson and doesn't keep on giving you a hard time. Horses like that can take some of the joy away.


Breathe said...

JacksonGrrl: I'm assuming a repeat performance will be required. Hope my inner B@#tch is ready.

Lisa: I think canyon is not nearly as alpha as your mare. If he was I probably couldn't pull it off (whether I do still remains to be seen, but I'm more hopeful)

Mikey said...

Lol, I love that at the end. I need that tattooed on me somewhere, lol.