Plans?! Ha! Can you hear Birdie laughing? She’s snickering right now as she grazes in her paddock next to her best buddy… Buddy
My plan on Sunday was to get up bright and early and take Birdie for a road ride to get her off the property and give her a bit of variety. But Birdie was having none of it… she did not want to leave the farm or her mates who were having a lazy Sunday morning and not being made to work. I was 5 minutes into the road ride when I decided it was best to change the plan and head home. She was stressed and wasn’t listening and given we were on the road, I was concerned that someone might get hurt especially if a car came around a corner too fast. There’s a lot of roadkill on the road I graze on and I didn’t want either of us to end up like that. I ended up getting off and walking her for a bit to take the pressure off.
Birdie is a green little budding baby (although she is 8) who still has a lot to learn and is still learning to trust this stranger (me) who was thrust into her life a month ago and took her away from her familiar life. A road ride with me was a step too far for her today.
Another step too far was standing still while mounting when we got back. She has a few bad habits we’ve been working on and this is one of them. She used to have that fun off the track thoroughbred thing where she marches off as soon as you get on which we nixed pretty quickly. But I realised today she’s been doing this thing where she will stand still next to the mounting block until you move to the stirrup and then she steps back a few steps and swings her butt away from you which often means you end up hopping on one foot or having to walk her in a circle to start again. She only does it when you mount from the correct side though, she stands perfectly still when you get on from the other side. She does her little move so perfectly it’s like a crazy person who likes a challenging mounting situation has trained her to do it.
So instead of a fun ride, little green Birdie and I spent 40 minutes re-learning how to stand still next to a mounting block (or chair in this case) and not swing your butt when your short owner is trying to get on. I ended up having to get a whip to reach over and press against her flank to push her butt back to me. By the end of the session, we did it three times in a row perfectly and I left it there on that good note.
It was a good reminder that even though Birdie is whip smart and learns fast, she’s still uneducated and is still learning to trust me and she is sometimes going to not want to, or just can’t, go with the plan.
We’re going to try the road ride again this weekend but this time we’re going with two of the other grazers so Birdie has some moral support. We’ll also keep on smoothing over those rough edges and turning bad habits into good habits.
Here are some of the things we’re working on at the moment:
- Standing still and not moving off straight away when mounting
- Picking up and putting down hooves on command and not trying to rip them out of my hand while I pick them out (this is already a million times better than when she arrived)
- Standing quietly when tied up and not trying to make a great escape when I go to the tack room
- Not trying to bite my elbow or head or any other body part off when tightening the girth
There’s a bit to do but it’s all part of the journey and we’ll get there one day.