It takes a long time to figure horses out. Once you think you've got them figured out you learn that you really have no clue. Ebony came to us from Carly. Carly had Ebony trained very very well. Then we get her. Now we were used to Beamer and Mariah. They have very different personalities than Ebony. Beamer and Mariah consent to being pets. They stand patiently while people hug their necks, scratch their backs and generally love on them. Ebony, not so much. Unless there is food involved.
The other morning I gave Ebony a treat and then reached over to scratch her on her withers. She bit my hand for my troubles. She paid the price for doing so, of course, but it let me know a potential problem was brewing. The next day the girls were feeding. Ebony decided it was time to move up in the herd. She went over and pushed B of his grain by biting him. When he didn't move fast enough for her, she turned and fired off a kick at him. Which was a very bad thing for her to do in front of Kumi. Kumi went over to push Ebony of the grain and Ebony threw a kick at Kumi. She missed. Kumi didn't and Ebony was forced off the grain. Kira went over and Ebony turned and threw a kick and Kira and connected. Kira wasn't hurt, but this kind of behavior only gets worse if you ignore it. Ebony was starting to bite at people when you went to mount, we nipped that behavior in the bud, and then she started trying to back away when you tried to mount. Once mounted, her manors are first rate. She is patient and calm and does exactly what you ask for. She does not spook at much on a trail and is willing to jump logs and cross streams. Its just getting on her that is tough.
So Ebony has gone back to school. Which really means we went to school. We called Carly and Carly is teaching us what we should and should not be doing. We have started with herd sour issues. Every time we pull Ebony off the trailer and walk her off by herself she gets agitated. She starts pulling on the lead rope, whinnying and dancing around you and, given the chance, over you.
Lesson 1 - walking a horse. How hard can it be to walk a horse?! See above. We put her in a rope halter and Kira takes the lead rope in one hand and a crop in the other hand. And then we start walking while telling Ebony to keep her head down. If she picks her head up and tries to get ahead of Kira, Kira jerks the rope to stop her and if that doesn't work, she waves the whip in front of Ebony's face to make her stop. Ebony learned very quickly that if she keeps walking forward she walks into the whip and she doesn't like that. The Kira backs her up quickly and forcefully using the crop to keep Ebony moving in a straight line.
It is hard work and it can be VERY frustrating. Kira did a great job. She kept her cool and kept working her horse without losing her temper. And that is hard to do when you are trying to figure out how to hold the lead rope in one hand, the whip in the other and then quickly change hands. You don't always want to drop the rope because then you or the horse step on the rope which brings everything to a stop until you can regroup. We will be working with Ebony more this weekend as well.
Lesson 2 - Standing still and not biting. Okay, the biting at people is handled. Now she bites her bit to show her irritation. We need to work on that one. Carly gave Kira some pointers for making Ebony stand still during mounting. I wasn't there so I don't know all the details. We will find out a bit more this weekend as we continue to work with her.
As always, it is a horse being a horse and it is us who needs to learn something. We need to get her to respect us at all times. We don't want her to fear us so we have to learn to use training aids such as lead ropes, rope halters and whips correctly. You never ever want to beat a horse out of frustration. They will learn fear and then you have real problems. I don't know if she will ever be the kind of horse that will easily tolerate being loved on but she is a good horse and she is teaching us to be better horse owners.