Berry’s Lesson

Technically it was my lesson as well, but really, I think this one benefited Berry more. I don’t know what happened, but my usually docile mare had been transformed into the naughty baby that she never was. She had been broke to race at age 2, and after being an immediate track failure, was broke w/t/c in (a) week(s), and sold off to me. Perhaps, just like a child star, her childhood had been stolen from her, exploited by those who wished to profit off of her (whee, horse ride!), and now she was bitter for the childhood she never had. I might be anthropomorphizing  a little bit here.

Also, enjoy these mostly unrelated pictures of Berry at a show.

I check my leads one look at a time.
I check my leads one leg at a time.

On Monday, I took Berry to my instructor’s barn for our lesson. The whole morning was a lesson in patience, and also, how much of this crap do I put up with before I slap her silly. Annoyance One was struggling to load her for 10 minutes. She’s never had issues loading, and always been a very good girl. I think she hates my trailer now. That might be because I want a new trailer. Maybe she senses my feelings…?

I finally got her on the trailer with my secret weapon: The Monty Roberts loading halter. Seriously, this thing is amazing. I’ve tamed many a beast with this halter, and made them load into the trailer, including my own Vintage, who was the main inspiration behind learning how to teach a horse to load. As a bratty teenager, I went up to many adults at my barn telling them how I could cure their troublesome horse and teach it to load. And, for the few that let me, I got them to load! No idea if they kept loading after that though. Moral of the story is, that halter will never leave my possession.

Another reason I think she hates that trailer – we arrived at the barn and she was a sweaty mess. The 15 minute ride seemed to really stress her out. I bet rumber floors in a new trailer would put her at ease…

I unloaded my gross, sweaty horse, and she started her version of being nervous. A screaming whinny, and then she’d bury her face in the grass, get a few mouthfuls and then scream again, occasionally spewing chewed up grass out. Not the worst behaved horse in the world, by any means, but I’ve taken her lots of places, and she usually just quietly observes everything around her.

I tacked up, and took her to the ring, where Berry jigged around me in little circles. I was waiting for the previous lesson to finish up, as to not put anyone at risk while I lunged the snot out of her, when she started calming down. Soon, she was just standing there, observing. Much better.

and one day, she'll be the perfect hunter horse she was destined to be! (because I decided it should be so)
and one day, she’ll be the perfect hunter horse she was destined to be! (The prophecy… I made it up…)

But then I got on and she decided to play trains. So the entire lesson ended up being slowing her down. This is frustrating because I feel like we should be past this. I took dressage lessons on Berry before, I even took her to a show where she scored decently in the dressage portion. She can maintain a quiet trot. I even took her on an hour trail ride the previous day, so she should be too tired to be this forward.

Proof of being at a show. Pics because it DID happen!
Proof of being in a dressage ring at a show. Pics because it DID happen!

I know, and completely acknowledge that she is this way because I haven’t ridden her since October. Le sigh.

By the end of the lesson, she was pretty quiet. She also put her slobbery mouth all over my instructor, and then tried to eat the turf covered round top. That’s the horse I remember.

Because I was now known as “that woman with the crazy horse”, I had to stand outside and wait for the aisle to be cleared of horses and small children before I could use the washstall. Berry was standing there grazing calmly when she somehow broke her leather halter. There was no rhyme or reason to it. She popped her head up, and it was broken.

She is unconcerned with such things.
She is unconcerned with such things.

Nooo, not the only leather halter I’ve ever owned!

Then she was a super good girl about the very enclosed wash stall.

“I don’t know about this mom… Well, okay if you insist.”

And then she embarrassed me greatly by refusing to load. The Monty Roberts Loading Halter was also embarrassed. It’s never experienced such a failure before. 30 minutes later, I finally convinced her to get in the trailer. The Halter was able to save face (sort of).

I'm trying to think happy thoughts...
I’m trying to think happy thoughts…

Last night I rode her again, and she pulled the same. It was an hour ride of just walk/trot/halt transitions, and steering practice because she decided she’d rather take off towards the barn. We both were dripping sweat when we finished. Clearly I’m going to need to ride her every day until my next lesson.

I’m hoping she’ll remember all her previous training and we don’t have to do 5 lessons relearning things she should already know. I have a lot of motivation to ride every day to get her back where she was – I don’t want to pay for weeks of lessons on something we both should already know. Hopefully, a more positive report will be given after next lesson.

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  1. Great chronicle of the challenges you faced. Did you have any idea when you started that day that Berry’s lesson was going to actually be for you regarding extreme patience?

  2. ugh trailer loading problems are the worst. my mare was a solid no-hesitation loader for months and months, and then poof – now she questions it every time. hopefully this is just a blip for Berry tho – a slight regression before a big leap forward in training 🙂

    1. Yeah, trailer loading problems really are horrible! It was easy to forget that they even existed when they were so good about loading.
      I was hoping the same thing! Maybe once she realizes I’m serious, she’ll be like “Oh ok. Yeah I already know all that!”

  3. Berry y u be so silly?? At least her shenanigans don’t sound like dangerous shenanigans, just stubborn-mare-lost-childhood shenanigans. Shenanigans. (had to say it one more time).

    1. I know, right?! She was pulling out all the shenanigans. Although I rode her last night and she went back to being quiet, normal Berry. Absolutely no shenanigans. I hope the shenanigans are a thing of the past. She’s given up her childhood dreams I think. Shenanigans.

  4. Mine always plays up when there’s somebody watching!! I’m sure they embarrass us deliberately. Well done for sticking with it! Great blog. Have followed and look forward to hearing how your next lesson goes – hopefully much calmer and less train like!

    1. I think they can sense it, and decide we need a humbling experience. That’s how it feels to me anyway!
      Thank you very much, and I’m hoping next week will be better!

  5. I really like your writing style. I feel like I “get” you. The halter saving face etc. That’s good comedy. But anyway, I have not heard of such a miraculous halter! You must type a complete blog post/product review. I want pictures! ?

    1. Thank you so much! You are making me feel all warm and fuzzy!
      I will definitely post more about the halter. I was actually expecting I could write a post about training Berry to load by using the halter, but then the stinker loaded in less than 30 seconds while still wearing her broken halter! (I should probably get a new halter and stop using the broken one…)
      But I will write a post about the loading halter, because that halter is so amazing!

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