No, it's not Christmas in March. And I'm not even talking about the dressage show season. I suspect my mare-owning friends (at least those situated in the Northern Hemisphere) know exactly what I'm talking about. It's that season.
When mares are in season, life can get interesting. I hear so many stories from friends with mares who become very difficult to handle and/or ride. Mine? No fire-breathing, bucking, kicking, mare-monster here. Nope. When Sammie is in season, she gets quiet. Really quiet. And sweet. Ironic that when she is so well behaved in the cross-ties, and I can tack her up without having to correct her seventeen times for various infractions (like grabbing the nearest halter in her teeth, chewing on the cross-ties, or lipping my shirt when I lean over to pick her feet), I automatically wonder what's wrong.
I'm sure mare-monster owners wonder why I cringe at this docile behavior. Well, it's because Sammie takes docile to a new low. She becomes downright dull. And we start to engage in our typical fights over her wanting to stop, or refusing to pick up a trot. Such was the case today in our lesson. Once I finally got a decent trot out of her, I started to feel like she was a little funky. I asked Meg to watch for it, and sure enough, though Samba was tracking up perfectly at the walk, she was short behind at the trot, especially to the right. Not lame, by any means...just clearly not comfortable.
After seeing this, we finished the lesson at a walk. At this point, we had no idea she was in season. We thought maybe she was sore from playing in her stall. Meg decided to give her some bute today and tomorrow, to see if that helped. We figure, if she repeats the balky behavior while buted, then it's an attitude problem, and we can address it. On the other hand, if she goes back to her (new) normal forward self, then we'll know it was her way of telling me she was not feeling quite right. And if balking a little is the worst thing she does when she doesn't feel her best, then I am indeed very lucky.
So I took Sammie back to her stall, and she quickly set to work munching the rest of her morning hay. Then she moved aside and peed. (Sorry...just can't think of a delicate way to continue here...) And then I knew what the problem was, as she turned her back and "winked" at me. Gross, I know. But spring is here, and 'tis the season for mare madness.
Today, I feel closer to Sammie than ever before. Not just because we both suffer from cramps and low energy on a regular basis. No, I feel like today we made great progress in our ability to communicate. Last Saturday, when I rode, she gave me everything I asked for, without discussion, without argument. After today's ride, I feel like I trust her more than ever to give me what she can, and she trusts me not to make her work very hard if she's not feeling her best.
Great strides, in my book.
From my blog: Green on Green