Monday, March 14, 2011

I hurt Dixie's feelings!

Obviously I felt bad about it as soon as I did it, but the corollary is that she has feelings, for me, and they are usually positive! How about that! I know yall are gonna be all "Of course she loves you! She's a sweet horse and she tries so hard for you of course she loves you!" but really, she is one of the least demonstrative horses I've ever met. She's incredibly... self-sufficient.

So this morning I fed her early then walked her down to M's for her trim. She seems to stand better for my poor patient trimmer at M's house, and it's a good excuse to go visit, so I've been taking her down there for trims. She was really quite good for the trim! Then I tied Dixie to Jim's truck while he trimmed M's mare. She pawed and I yelled. Repeat about 5 times. She pawed and I threw a tiny piece of gravel near her and she looked indignant and quit for a minute. Then she pawed again and I popped her in the butt with an even tinier piece of gravel and she got so upset! I fed her some of M's hay cubes and she promptly forgave me.

I planted stuff all day, then tonight at feeding time I measured Dixie's hooves and tried to get the boots on again. I think the red 1's fit her front hooves, but the gold 0's definitely do not fit her rear hooves. Dixie was seriously not thrilled about picking up her feet again - she clearly thought that since she stood nicely for the trimmer and picked up her feet once today, she was off the hook for picking them up again tonight. She was utterly wretched - threatened to fall down on me, rocked back and forth, yanked, snatched her feet away and sidestepped as far as possible from me. About the fifth time she wrenched a foot away and skittered as far as possible from me, I got mad and threw the tape measure kinda-sorta at her. It didn't even hit her - it hit the fence behind her - but it hurt her feelings. I apologized and got my tape measure and got my last measurement, but she was still sulking. Tight lips, tight little muscles around her eyes, very much not looking at me.

I apologized again, very sincerely, and scratched her neck. She stayed tense and glared at me for a couple minutes, but then her lip started flopping and she forgave me. I scritched up her neck to her head and she ducked her head and shoved the itchy spots under my wonderful fingernails. I untied her and took her back to her paddock, then untied the halter, but she didn't leave. She stood very close to me and gave me this soft hopeful look, and of course I scratched her again. I probably spent 15 minutes scratching all the itchy spots I could find.

When I "groom" Dixie, she likes to have a hand to air-groom back. Not an arm or a shoulder, a bare hand. She wiggles her lips and you can just tell that she's trying so hard to not politely bite my hand. Sometimes she can't stand it anymore and she licks my hand while I scratch scratch scratch with the other. Tonight, she curled her neck around in an almost-hug and didn't even look indignant when I gave her a kiss. Just once, very quickly. :)


  1. I think mares are often not as outwardly "emotive" to humans. Story certainly wasn't. Fiddle prefers that everybody think that she Hates Everyone, except sometimes she slips and does the binky-licking thing where somebody can see...and that ruins her carefully-built reputation!

    My question: after you "made friends" again, did you pick up the feet one more time?

  2. Too funny about her feet...when she done with something, she's done. Don't wanna say it-but but, my first thought was not love~
    She is too sweet though, allowing I to scritch her, that is a rare occurence with mine

  3. I'm glad to hear yall also have standoffish mares. :) My old mare Silky was quiet and reserved and self-sufficient, but she was also quite friendly to me in her own way. Dixie has been such a challenge - I love her dearly, but I can't snuggle with her!

    Aarene - I didn't. I finished measuring while she was still mad at me, and after I finished what I was doing I "apologized." I guess there's two schools of thought - I should've picked them up again to make the point that I'm allowed to pick them up, or I finished what I wanted to do and I only do things that are necessary. I went with the latter choice - neither one of us is very good at drilling things over and over.

  4. Our mares came from the same cosmic "coffer". It is very difficult to get a mare to warm up and play nice. My old mare was the exception, I know she loved me.

  5. I must be very lucky! Sunny, the two year old filly, loves to be with me, she particularly loves her whither scratched and while I do, she then grooms my butt! Her teeth gently nibble my jeans and flesh!!! But she never hurts!
    Gracie enjoys the same. I always had Geldings in the past, because I thought Mares etc, were too flighty, not so!
    A mare will give you more than any gelding, and when asked, despite all the alleged faults, they will always stay the course at any event. I wouldnt go back to geldings.

    There is one problem though! When they are in season, Gracie tends to try and spray me, and follows me around like a sick dog!!Lol.

  6. Oh that made me giggle a little...

    Missy tolerates the snuggling, but I think she would also be okay without it. Sometimes when I scratch her face, she rests her head in my arms, but then other days she just wants me to leave her alone. Basically, she's just a moody mare that only wants something when SHE wants it.

  7. Isn't it wonderful when they're all snuggly? Gotta make the most of it when you can - and that's so sweet about her licking your hand! :)

  8. "Dixie has been such a challenge - I love her dearly, but I can't snuggle with her!"

    I had to use clicker training to get a snuggly gelding. People think it's so cute when he hugs so readily, but I know it's only due to bribery. :(

  9. SARA, it isn't necessarily "bribery" to teach them to enjoy something. Fiddle (who Hates Everything) only hates what she hasn't learned to enjoy. Yes, that makes sense.

    When I first got her, the first response to EVERYTHING was "no." (Truthfully, many of the responses were "f*ck no, you can't make me.")

    After teaching her what I wanted, her response became, "well, hell, I can do that. It's not hard. I will do it and LIKE it...but I reserve the right to hate the next thing you ask me to do."

    She had to *learn* to like stuff (like having her neck scritched,and moving off my leg cues) but now she sincerely enjoys doing stuff. At first, though, it was all about the cookies.

    I don't know the origin of this mare's negative attitude, but in many parts of her life, it's gone now. Not all, though.

  10. "I hurt Dixie's feelings!" And therefore you owe her scratches ;)

    My gelding was not snuggly at all when I first got him, but now I get the occasional horse hug (love them!) and lots of "air-grooming".

    You know when a moody mare gives you affection that she really means it :)

  11. What a sweet Dixie!! :)

    Lilly "loves" it when I snuggle with her, but I've had her since she was a baby, so she might just tolerate me instead. "Here she goes again with that lovey crap!"

    Never gave that much thought until now... LOL

  12. It's so cute Dixie makes a happy face when you get the spot. The only way I know I've gotten one of Rose's spots is when she either rests her head on my shoulder or if I'm not in front of her she'll nuzzle my butt, lol. So glad Cheyenne said her mare does that too!

  13. You obviously have something pretty special with that girl. Very cool story. thanks for sharing.

  14. I love it when you can read their emotions and feelings so easily like that. There are groups of people who like to accuse us horse weirdos of attributing human-like emotions to our horses, but when you are near them all the time and get to experience and see those emotions in play, there is no question at all that they have feelings for us.

  15. Aww, poor sensitive princess! Glad you were able to apologize and make it ok.

  16. "SARA, it isn't necessarily "bribery" to teach them to enjoy something."

    Except when the horse changes his behavior when treats are no longer offered. I have the horse I want as long as I offer rewards. If I try to stop, he soon stops as well and becomes indifferent to me.

    I think he has me trained.

  17. I'm sorta new to your blog but I know you mentioned trying clicker training somewhere before. You might want to consider bringing it back to work with her feet.

    When I got my horses they were AWFUL about their feet- so bad I had to start trimming them myself.
    I started out by holding their feet up for only a few seconds, click, release foot, give treat. It worked so well that now all I have to do is plant them in front of a pile of hay and I don't even have to put halters on them to trim. I can go out to them loose in the pasture and get any foot I ask for. It takes a lot of treats and patience but it's worth it :)

    My gelding is not at all demonstrative, but my mare is another animal entirely. If I don't love on her she gets pissed at me.

  18. Seems odd to me that Dixie, who tries so hard, would be so fussy about having her feet picked up a second time in one day. Does she get sore from being help in that position while he does his work??

    I know I have had horses who are not comfortable with the position the farrier uses but still stand quitely for him but later they be a bit stiff.

  19. That's funny... or not...
    One year I was gone for a couple of weeks, and when I got back, Finneas - who'd been getting special treatment before I left for a nasty back leg injury - TOTALLY dissed me for having abandoned him. He pinned his ears at me and walked away from him when I tried to pet him. He later caved, but he sure made me feel bad.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond


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