Tuesday, June 7, 2016
On our evening rides, Kevin and I have been going out to the second river crossing, turning around, coming back, passing home and riding out to the end of an access trail. We call it the Access Trail—very creative, huh?
Anyway, with a lot of trotting and some cantering, this ride takes about an hour, and we like it. When we pass up home, I click Cole and give him a treat. Kevin doesn’t click Starry, but it doesn’t matter. We are typically in the lead, and I give Cole his treat before Starry catches up with us. Cole then trots on off, happily, and Starry follows.
Last night, Starry was in the lead. As they passed up the trail to that goes down the riverbank and home, Kevin asked for a trot. Starry took a couple steps, grabbed a branch on the side of the trail and swung out his huge buckskin body in his infamous “right angle move” and blocked the trail. He does this once or twice a week with us. Cole then slams on the brakes and we wait for Kevin to get Starry pointed the right direction.
Well, this time, Starry was having nothing with that. He started swishing his tail and backing up. He backed up into Cole, and Cole went flying the other direction. (Cole is very sensitive to the actions of other horses, and tends to panic if they get too close to him.) I got control of Cole, and Kevin then asked Starry to go forward, again. Starry did more backing up and swishing, and Cole really panicked this time. He spun away, tossed in a tiny buck and tried to run off. I stopped him, and asked him to stand.
Starry still wasn’t going down the trail, so I said I would pass and see if he would follow us. As soon as Cole got one step past Starry, he wanted to high-tail it away from him. We went about 50 feet at a very fast trot, and then I asked him to stop and wait. In what seemed to be an hour, but probably was only 30 seconds, Kevin got Starry to trot down the trail. We continued on our way, rode to the Access Trail and turned to come home.
Kevin thought it would be a good idea to ride past home, again. This time, we were going to go the other way along a fence that separates the trail from the road. I suggested putting Cole in the lead to lure Starry into the right decision. It didn’t work. Kevin wanted to get to the end of the fence—and Starry wanted to just go home. Cole wasn’t very happy about it, either, but he showed me by walking very slow and reluctant. I decided we would just trot to the end of the fence and wait for Starry.
Eventually, Kevin and Starry worked it out, and they trotted to us. We turned around and headed home.
All of this behavior really surprised Kevin. Starry has always been the good one when it came to passing up home. He used to help our friend, Audrey, with her horse when they would practice passing up home, and Starry used to set such a good example.
We think the issue started with Starry thinking that Cole was going home. He was upset. He was pouting. Once he got the idea in his head, having Cole ahead of him didn’t help anymore. Next time, we are going to put Cole in front, again. No need to cause Starry pouting if we can avoid it. (Besides, Cole and I like to trot that trail really, really fast.)