My little teacher...

My little teacher…

Not a day goes by when I am not humbled by my horse. The little mare is definitely a teacher…especially when it’s been a while since I’ve been taught a really good lesson.

Case in point, our first show after moving to sunny Florida: DISASTER. Couldn’t get her past Jump 1. She even got me off her back…as evidenced by the photographic evidence in my last blog (though we did have some pretty sweet new moves, I will admit!) That show was a serious reminder to me of something I’ve always thought I was pretty good at: listening to my horse. But that day, Sandie reminded me that I need to sharpen those skills every once in a while.

Let’s back up a few weeks, to when I first started giving her the busy signal…

After moving to Florida, Sandie seemed to settle in quite nicely. But after a few weeks, she was getting sluggish. Now last summer when she was lethargic and just not wanting to move forward, the vet pulled some blood and we found her to be borderline anemic. A (rather expensive) iron supplement later and she was good to go! So I assumed that maybe she was just having that issue again and decided to put her back on an iron supplement for a bit. Only this time, I decided to try a much cheaper version. I had heard it can make some horses hot, but I figured no way it’ll do that to my calm, chill Sandie. So I bought the cheap stuff and started her on it.

It did what it was supposed to do and gave her a little bump in energy. I thought GREAT, it works AND it saved me some $, bonus!

A couple weeks later, she came in from the pasture all riled up – a real fire breathing dragon. She was acting as if a bomb had gone off next to her head! The horses in the next property over were running around so I figured that was what was making her a little batty. Warning sign 1: ignored.

A few days later, the barn installed some overhead hoses in the wash stalls – you know, like the kind you would see at a Do It Yourself car wash…pretty neat and no hoses to get all tangled up in the horses’ legs!  But the new hose hanging over her head touched Sandie and she FREAKED OUT, flew backwards and broke her halter in the process, then broke a second one when we tried again. Warning sign 2: ignored.

My usual calm and happy girl...just waiting for our class to start.

My usual calm and happy girl…just waiting for our class to start.

I loaded her up for the show a week later.  She screamed like a banshee as we pulled away.  At the show, my normally chill horse paced back and forth alongside the trailer. She spooked at everything in sight.  She dumped me at Fence 1 and refused to jump it over and over again. She was a ball of nervous anxious energy. I was beside myself. I had no idea why she was acting like that! I was floored. This horse never gave me refusals, jumped everything I asked her to and did so HAPPILY!  WHAT was going on?!

I went back to the trailer upset, worried, angry, all kinds of emotions. Then it dawned on me: the cheap energy supplement. The one that can make horses “hot.”  And then the warning signs I had ignored completely all came flooding into my memory. How could I have been so dense? All along they were there and yet I didn’t see them, explained them away. I’ve known this horse for 7 years and I had become so lax in my listening skills.

Happy Sandie is back!

Happy Sandie is back!

I took her off the supplement right away and within a few days, I had my chill, calm Sandie back. We went to another Jumper show just a couple days ago and it went beautifully!  I had my Sandie back…jumping everything without a second thought, so relaxed in fact that she was falling asleep in between classes with me in the sunshine. She was grazing contentedly at the trailer side, just happy to be there with me. I was THRILLED! And humbled. Once again the little mare had sent me a reminder that I know her well and I need to remember that. If something doesn’t seem right with her, then I need to listen up. She’s trying to tell me something.

I will never ignore you again little mare, that I promise you! Sometimes we all need a little reminder that when things seem off, there is probably a good reason why.  We just need to be able to listen.