It was really chilly last night. The temperature in the indoor arena was below freezing. Of course, that is not too cold to ride, but last year, I would have had to lounge Cole before riding on a night like last night. He would have been awful, too, with much rearing and bucking. I decided to just ride him and see how he did.
I am happy to report that he behaved beautifully. There was no spooking, bucking or bolting. Yes, we have come a long way. He didn’t perform very consistently, though, but I attribute that to me. I just couldn’t get my muscles working right—possibly due to some indigestion caused by eating all the leftover goodies from the holidays.
I figured I’d do better with Cruiser since he is a smoother ride that requires less effort. I saddled him up and brought him out—only to find Grace, the Percheron being ridden in the arena. Ugh…
I explained to her owners how Cruiser is about white horses. You see, back when I bought him as a 2-year-old, my friends had a white Appaloosa that Cruiser became fast friends with. For several years, they were together. When his owner became ill, she had to sell him and he ended up going to a different stables. From that time on, Cruiser has been very attracted to white horses. Now, if the horse is also a mare, he is worse. Well, Grace is a huge mare! Last time we shared the arena, I had to take him outside away from her. This night, the world was covered in ice. I had no other choice but to see how he did with her in the arena.
We just walked for the first 10 minutes, and he was a little jumpy. I kept him in a circle to contain him, and we did all right until they started to trot Grace. That is when Cruiser started to toss in a few bucks. It escalated into forward surges that I had to spin him to get control. I kept apologizing. I then saw someone leading the mostly white Paint mare up and down the adjacent barn. Cruiser saw, too. He started lifting his feet up a little higher. A couple minutes later, someone led in the white Thoroughbred mare. I hopped off. This was just too much. I am so glad I did. A minute later, Cruiser had a meltdown. He started bucking in place, spinning and spinning around me as he tried to take off. He wouldn’t settle down. The Thoroughbred and the Quarter Horse who just came into the barn started to spook with him. Grace didn’t care. Her owners were using this as a training opportunity.
I just stood in one place and sighed. My horse had lost his mind—he was in lizard brain. In 22 years, he was never as bad as this—and that is saying a lot. I decided I had to get him out and get him in his stall for a time out. That was a challenge in itself as he wanted to do that more than I did. As I led him, he tried to pull me to the barn door. The woman with the Quarter Horse decided she wouldn’t ride, and took her horse out to get a lounge line. The woman with the Thoroughbred quit, too. Grace still walked around quietly. I finally got Cruiser to his stall, closed the door and let him decompress.
I then unsaddled him, put his halter on and brought him back out. All the white horses were gone, and I led him around while the Quarter Horse was being lounged. He only acted out once, and after a few minutes he was walking quietly by my side. I was even able to trot him out a few times—mostly to make sure he didn’t hurt his tendon with his antics. He was sound and quiet.
I know this is just an anomaly. He has been very quite and well behaved in the arena this year. I’m sure the next time I ride him, he will be fine—as long as Grace isn’t there. He can handle the other white mares, because he has in the past. He just can’t take his eyes off of them. I just don’t think I will be riding him with Grace, anymore.