When Your Horse Freaks Out

First, don’t worry. No one is hurt. However, on yesterday’s ride, a bit of freak-outage did occur with Apache.

Oddly enough, our ride Saturday was practically idyllic, as we traipsed all over the ranch, through beautiful tall grass (pre-baling) with Fiona in tow. Fiona always needs to be rounded up when it’s time to go through a gate, so our herding practice is fun (however, Apache sucks at it).

But yesterday was different. First, we decided not to bring Fiona, since she was still limping a bit. And second, the baling operation was going on pretty close to where we were riding. Some combination of these things did not please Apache, though he was doing what I asked him to, including squishing over a wet spot.

He kept turning around and looking urgently toward his pasture, ears up, all attentive. We finally figured out he was hearing Fiona braying in her loneliness. I guess he’s used to having her around now!

I’m a right brained introvert. I can’t help getting a little jumpy when giant machines attack me.

Then, when the tractors got close, everything he encountered suddenly became A Big Deal. Trees, cactus, the overhead power lines. He’d turn around, start randomly trotting, and basically act like he was on his last nerve. He used to act like that often, when I first started working with him four years ago, but he hasn’t done that recently.

Meanwhile, Sara has a mission to complete x number of hours and y number of minutes trotting on Spice, to get ready for a horseback riding vacation she’s going on soon. So, they were off trotting in giant circles around us and getting pretty far away. That also didn’t help Apache’s mood.

I got plenty of treats, since I was left behind and braying so hard.

Spice, on the other hand, really wanted to walk. Slowly. That’s not HER usual behavior, either! So, Sara and I regrouped, and after that we stuck together, doing circles and figure 8s around trees and the power poles, etc. If Apache got antsy, we did the same one over and over again until he wasn’t antsy.

We guessed Spice was plodding along slowly because she’d worked hard cantering away the previous two days, racking up her hours. She was probably sore! How else could she tell Sara that?

After a half hour of this stuff, Apache was at least paying attention to me, but still in some big old hurry to go home. I told him that if he started to trot, he’d get to turn around. So, we did that. He was in such a hurry that he went over the little stream like it was nothing, so obviously it’s only an issue when he is NOT in a hurry.

As we walked/trotted down the race, heading to the barn, the baling machine came right up to us. We turned to face it, and both horses survived. Yay! But, we did have to walk back up quite a ways, since Apache had been trotting. This technique usually works pretty fast, but yesterday was just a jumpy day for my introverted part-Arab boy.

We thwarted that drive to go to the barn by walking right past it, much to Spice’s irritation. Sara made Spice do figure 8s in our playground, while I had Apache walk over our telephone pole “jumps” three times. Everyone then returned to the barn at a proper walk. Then, everybody got a nice bath, though of course, Mr. Contrary promptly rolled in the dirt.

Baths are for sissy horses. Real horses are covered in dirt.

Humans rule! Horses drool! (Actually, the cattle were drooling.)

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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