Other than Joy


Can I come out?

I know you don’t hear much about Ava now. I had decided to give Ava another 6 months of no riding. Mainly because it was really painful for me to ride her. I wanted her to be well. I wanted to do all the things we used to do. I wanted my Ava back!

But she’s not… and she never will be.

I’m trying to adapt to Ava’s limitations, but I get greedy and selfish. Ava will give whatever I ask, even if it hurts her. The problem is she won’t tell you it hurts until it REALLY hurts.

So my idea is… we’ll use the winter to just hang out.

That’s all I’ve got….

I can’t seem to sit on a horse with out pushing the buttons. I’m a button pusher.  If it leg yields, I’m leg yielding. If it doesnt, I’m teaching it. I can’t seem to help myself. This is why I started declining rides on friends horses. I can’t just sit on a horse and walk around… I get on a stiff horse and I have to teach it to bend, or move off pressure, or fix this, or fix that.
I have to fiddle!!!

Which really doesn’t work for a light duty horse like Ava, who has a lot of buttons.

So instead, I sit by the pasture and scratch Ava’s chest while she bops me in the head with her nose. Or I hang out in the stall while she mugs me for treats, then glares at me when the treats run out. I would say I spoil her, but her Highness has never believed we were equals. She’s has only ever allowed me to bask in her presence.

My friend stopped by a few weeks ago. We’re at the fence saying Hi to the horses and Ava is standing in front of my friend. I see Ava’s ears slide back. A brief pause. Then Ava’s nostrils curl. Another pause.

Ava is waiting to see if my friend will notice. I glare at Ava. I know that look.

A few seconds later, Ava brings her nose in close to my friends shoulder and waits. ..

Suddenly, Ava grabs a flap of my friends jacket, we yell, Ava flings her head back and up. I yell at Ava and shoo her off. Ava turns around, backs her butt up to the fence in line with my friend, and cocks her leg in warning. I go after Ava to smack her, but she’s already anticipating that and is moving off before I even get close.

A few seconds go by and Ava’s back at the fence, head hanging over it next to my friend. The ears slide back, the nostrils curl. My friend pops Ava in the jaw without any real force, and Ava gives this look of utter disbelief, takes a step back, and then just hangs her head over the fence for my friend to scratch.

Ava never tried another thing with my friend after that.

This is not new behavior, but Ava’s less mischievous when worked regularly. She’s a bit of a pain when not.

I swear, Ava makes me feel like the worst horse person ever. This is the only horse (out of 6 I’ve owned or trained) that I’ve never been able to train to lunge safely. She’s a jerk on the lunge and I spent 5 years trying to retrain that. I failed.

She loads like crap. Ava decides when, or if, we’re loading. I’ve had three different trainers help me and Ava still determines when, or if, she’ll load. I failed.

And Ava still to this day tests every single person who comes near her. You either pass or fail, and heaven help you if you fail. I have worked on her ground manners for countless hours, for 5 years, and although she is impeccable with me… she’s a down right jerk to anyone new until you pass her “leader” tests.

I assume Ava is an anomaly. Or maybe she needed someone different the past several years. Either way, she behaves (for the most part) around me, but I still don’t trust her around other people.

I want to believe that if I just spend enough quiet time with Ava she’ll blossom into a horse that has one hundred percent trust in everyone. Where she’ll let me approach her and touch her while she’s laying down, and we’ll have this magical transformation where Ava becomes a well-adjusted equine citizen that anyone can handle.

That was my ultimate goal for Ava… to be the good equine citizen for everyone, no matter what.

That’s not going to happen though. Ava is a tester of limits, a button pusher, a lady with a need to know who exactly is in charge. Which is probably why we get along so well.

In truth, I love this mare. She may make life difficult at times, but she’s mine and she has a forever home here. Although, sometimes I wish she’d go easier on the stall kicking and testing of the limits.


6 thoughts on “Other than Joy

  1. Ahh. A true mare…
    Hey, how about trying a silly bitless ride sometimes, in arena safety if need be. That way you simply cannot connect as much, collect less, ask for less specific moves, and just have an easy exercise jog here and there. She could have some easy work, and, felling I am a bit the same as you, there would be less of a chance of interfering or trying to improve.
    Not sure if it would work, but a thought!


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