This past weekend, Rosie got to load up with a couple other horses & head back with me to my parent's place near Pierce, NE, where she tried out the stall life while I tended to my trimming clients on Saturday & then took a trip up to Bloomfield, NE to the indoor arena where I give lessons during the colder months, on Sunday. During our ride in the indoor, she did quite well. I'm assuming she's probably spent a fair bit of time being ridden in an indoor where she was boarded in Aberdeen. We typically don't turn all of the lights on in the arena, so that leaves some dark corners & shadowy spots. She handled all of that well.
Back home this week, we continued to do a little bit of work up on the place, improving her lateral softness under saddle while also spending a fair bit of time heading down the gravel roads. I opted to hold off on going to the pastures as I would like to see her free up just a bit more. When riding in the indoor arena, it took some encouragement to get her to lope, so I want to iron that out & have her more comfortable with that before I ask for the same thing as we're riding through the pasture.
The issue you had been having with her steering & what made you question her teeth is likely what's called a 'stereotypie.' Rosie's stereotypie is rolling her tongue around in her mouth (I will see if I can grab a video of this behavior next week). I've seen cattle that will do this as well. A few other examples of stereotypies, or stereotypical behaviors, from horses include weaving, stall walking, & cribbing. I'm guessing she probably developed this during her time at the boarding barn. Here, I notice it at feeding time, when she's tied & gets bored or a bit antsy, & when we're riding in a more concentrated fashion, though she will do it from time to time when we're riding out & about. These little things used to really bother me & I would try & try to figure out how to stop or fix it. But sometimes you try to fix one thing & you might create another problem somewhere else. Once Rosie's ready, I'll go ahead & put her in a shanked bit. I'm really finding that most horses prefer the mechanics of something with shanks over a snaffle bit. There may be some improvement when we do this, but at this point, it may be one of those ingrained habits. Here's an article that discusses it a bit more in-depth: https://thehorse.com/18866/equine-stereotypies-vice-or-coping-mechanism/
Next week, we'll continue to ride down the lane & gravel roads & get out into the pastures. We'll likely spend a bit of time up on the place working on a few areas of concentrated training where I'll begin asking for more from her stop, backing, & begin to build upon her vertical flexion in motion, & maybe touch on sidepassing & a turnaround (two things I want to install before I move to that shanked bit).
- Lexy Nuesch
Next week's update will be posted on Sunday.