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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

February 15, 2009

C-A-U-T-I-O-N Aspiring Distance Riders

Since I'm stiff, sore, and hobbling around today I took a pass on riding. But the day wore long on me by late afternoon and I happened to think of the bright yellow roll of plastic caution tape my husband purchased for me two weeks ago. He thought I should string some around the paddock area, and hang some from the fence and trees for the purpose of de-spooking Phebes the sight and sound of flapping caution tape. This would simulate the pulse gate at an actual ride...let me offer a little tidbit of advice, if you haven't exposed your horse to this, do so prior to participating in a ride. I never saw such blowing, snorting, flying tails, farting, and galloping. So that stuff is going to be flapping around out there for some time to come, until they are bored stiff with it. I could just visualize the pulse rate shooting straight skyward instead of the other direction.

Speaking of pulses, Chris checked both horses with a monitor immediately post ride yesterday and they pulsed down pronto! I was very impressed with Toby's pulse down, as he is more heavily muscled than Phebes. He went down to an awesome 47 bpm! Phebes got there, but she was slower to pulse down because she was having a hissy fit because Chris touched her. She tried to cow-kick Chris twice to my humiliation. She didn't mind me putting the hand held device on her but she was having none of Chris. It worries me how this will translate to the actual vet, and what I'm to do about it other than tie red ribbons on her tail? Phebes is having the moody mare thing right now, and she can be pretty nasty when she's like that.

Dishes to tomorrow. ~E.G.


  1. The vets really don't like it when a horse has bad manners. My Shagya didn't ever try to kick. But she was always freaked out and didn't want the vets to pick up her feet. We almost didn't get to start a ride because of her behaviour. I'm sure if she would have kicked at Otis, there's no way they would have let me start. But he gave me a lecture about not bringing her to any more rides until she will let anyone pick up her feet and then let us go. She never did pulse down well at rides because she was spooked at everything, as well. And NEVER held still!

    BTW, by the time I took her in her last ride, she did 100 times better. She let the vets pick up all four of her feet with no problems. But it wasn't easy getting her to that point, I worked almost every day for a couple months!

    You'll get there. But I'm just saying that's not something you should skimp on. It's just as important as being in condition.

    Also, I recieved bad advice before my first ride. Because I was told the vets don't pick up their feet to look at them. Boy, were they wrong! And I should have got a second opinion.

    Michelle Detmer

  2. Michelle,

    I'm working on it, but the problem is that she will except ME doing something, but she does not except someone else doing it. And who wants to have their horse taking pot shots at your friends? Phebes will barely tolerate my husband handling her. As soon as the ground drys back up, I'm going to put her in the round pen, and start some serious ground work with her again, as that is the only thing that remotely gets her head into the right frame. I was shocked though that she did that to Chris, because all she did was put the pulse transmitter on her, which I had done myself previously with no reaction from her. Always something with this one....~E.G.

  3. Hi Jacke - I am no trainer, but when we first got Arabee - she refused to trailer load. She would actually run right over (TRAMPLE) you on her way outta there. My mom's uncle is an experienced horseman, and helped us with this. His solution really worked - she respects my space (and all others) most ALWAYS now, unless really freaked by something.

    Horses are bigger than people and can be really DANGEROUS if they are disrespectful like that. Arabee was, and it sounds like that's what Phebes is doing w/ the cow-kicking.

    Well, Uncle Ralph worked with Arabee leading her, carried a dressage whip and when she started to shove her shoulder into him to run him over, he sharply spanked her lower legs with the whip. This got her attention and really surprised her, but it didn't *hurt* her. After a couple more attempts and subsequent ankle spankings, she quit trying to run over him! Then he had me lead her, and she needed to be reminded again of the consequences of being rude. She learned it wasn't appropriate to run over people. She quit trying it after that day, she learned it wasn't appropriate and not worth the behavior.

    Horses have their pecking order - and the dominant horse does what he has to to enforce his authority. If a horse chooses to ignore your authority, then it's time to up the pressure. Using the dressage whip was a quick, effective, relatively painless way of doing that. It only took a few times, and we only used it when she was "in the act" of the rude behavior.

    It sounds like Phebes believed she was the "dominant mare" in the pulse check situation, and was warning Chris to stay out of her space - and she upped the ante (cow kicking) when Chris didn't "listen". Sounds like while she has accepted that you are dominant over her, that doesn't translate right now to ALL people. (sorry, you probably already know all this...but I gotta be complete or my thoughts won't make sense!)

    My suggestion would be to expose her to as many different people as possible (prepare these people first!) and give them the authority to discipline your mare if she tries to challenge them. Start carrying a dressage whip yourself so you're ready in case she ever does try to challenge you w/ a cow kick, etc.

    Also, be sure you're not being "overly cautious" around Phebes. I don't know, I've never seen you around horses, but if you are going out of your way to move slowly around her, or being extra careful with the way you tack her up, or groom her, it might seem strange to her to see the movements and actions of other people. I don't mean be rough and plunk the saddle down by any means, but just treat her as a "normal" horse, or even as if she's been there/done that, so she doesn't get surprised when someone (the vet) walks up to her (the 80th horse of the day) to take her pulse without first "greeting" her.

    Just be goofy around her, dance around, do weird things until she doesn't worry about you. Then every now and then "surprise" her by doing something different than usual before or after a ride, so she comes to expect the unexpected.

    Sorry this is so long, and who knows, it may turn out that Arabee will need the same training when someone comes at her with a high tech pulse taking machine!

  4. Nicole,

    The trouble with Phebes is there is a very fine line between respect, and having an emotional melt down fight on your hands. If you over push the boundary with her, she will go flat postal and nothing is gained. She has a reasonable respect for me, but she will recheck her position from time to time. I really don't take any prisoners around her, I just do what I'm gonna do. I'm hoping that some miles will make it seem real nice to stand still. But I am going to reinforce ground manners hard a few weeks prior to the ride. I'm hoping David might be game to "play vet" on some of the training rides after she's had a round pen refresher or two.