Tuesday, October 19, 2010

PMS Pony

After Izzy's spectacular effort on Sunday, I thought Monday should just be a light, easy dressage ride and some turnout. Good plan, right?

Izzy didn't think so. When I went to get her, she walked to the back of her pen and wouldn't look at me. I got her anyways and off we went. She started out ok. On the way to the arena, I met another boarder for the first time, so we stopped and chatted for a while. Izzy actually stood really quietly for me. Then we went to the big outdoor. She was actually pretty good.

I just walked her around a little, then we trotted a couple laps, cantered a couple laps, changed directions, and did the same the other way. The end of the whole thing was that I just wanted to ride her by the barn, over the bridge, and once around the track at a walk. Why? Because I've been getting off at the barn and she's decided that she doesn't want to go past it now. My bad.

We had a brief discussion about whether or not she could walk by the barn. She only threw herself around and ran backwards once. I had a lot of success with just letting her go forward until she felt uncomfortable, then standing for a minute, petting her, and trying again. Basically, when I'm asking her to do something hard mentally, I need to let her process. If I rush her, she gets frantic.

So far so good. She walked over the bridge with only a very minor hesitation and we we off to the track. Little did I know, the challenge was just beginning.

Izzy is in heat. That's never been a problem before, but there's a very studdy gelding in the stall next to her and she's in love with him. Combine that with the healthy amount of turnout she's been getting, and I have a very clear-headed mare who is all of a sudden herdbound. She barely wanted to move when walking away from the barn and then would rush and whinny going towards it.

I was more amused than anything. She couldn't have picked a better time (for me) to be a twit. I had already been to work and literally had nothing to go to aftrwards. I had all the time in the world, and I decided that she was not done until she could walk around the track with pitching a fit and tuning me out constantly.

We had several discussions about that. When she realized that I wasn't going to let her go back to her beloved Petie, she told me she was going to rear. Given her history, I took her very seriously and made her spin in some serious fast circles and then (the horror!) trot away from the barn.

I did try to help her along. I knew she was distracted, so we didn't just walk. We did little serpentines. We did trot/halt/trot transitions. We did not back up under any circumstances because she does need any help with that... she tends to use it as an evasion to get behind my leg. When she would finally at least flicker an ear back at me on the stretch towards the barn, I rode her back over the bridge to the barn, then turned around and rode her to the bridge and got off there.

I finished up by doing some ground work with her on the track. Poor mare thought she was very abused, especially since everyone else had been fed by then.


  1. At least she had kind of an excuse. I know of at least a few excellent trail horses who have seriously bugged out while they were in heat (rearing and throwing their riders!) It sounds like you listened to her signs and did all the right things. At least you didn't freak out! Darn the PMS factor. I'd just like to be rid of it.

  2. Good work! Have you ever tried Mare Magic? It's helped Dawn, and another mare at our barn, Sugar, quite a bit - they're much less "marish" when they're in heat.

  3. A lesson well learned, I think. It will be interesting to hear what happens the next time. Good tactics and a good approach to a very distracted horse.

    I haven't had a mare myself, do I don't know how best to deal with this issue, but I've heard some of the herbal hormonal remedies do help.

  4. Oh the joys of mare ownership! lol I know I tend to take it easy on mares the first few days of their heat cycle. I usually have cramps too and can relate.

    Usually the mares I have gotten along with best- were the bitchiest of the bunch. I'm not in the mood and neither were they. Those days are good for groundwork or turnout. Why start a fight and ruin your progress?

  5. I hear you, Cut-N-Jump. Today was supposed to be a turnout day, but I'm home sick. Yuck.

    I'll hopefully see how she is tomorrow.

    I'm interested in Kate's suggestion for the mare magic or raspberry leaves. Izzy is generally not herdbound in any way, so if the problem persists, I'll definitely try a different avenue. Since this is the first time I've really seen this behavior, I think I'll wait a bit though.

  6. Excellent post. I could just feel the whole thing, and I admire your strength of will to keep this session under your control, not Izzy's. Good job.


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