Horses let you know what they are feeling if you just take the time to listen. For example, Les and I went for a nice trail ride this evening; he rode Sugar and I was taking the lead with Kobi. Before we rode too far, there was a tree limb blocking our trail. Knowing how Sugar’s only fear is downed tree limbs, I hopped down to move it out of our path.
Mistake #1 – when I remounted, I did not check the girth first and the saddle slid to the side.
Mistake #2 – instead of untying the girth, I slid the saddle back into place on Kobi’s back.
Mistake #3 – Snatching the girth strap and making the girth tight too quickly
Kobi’s reply to my hasty decisions…he bit me…hard.
He immediately knew that he was wrong, threw himself in reverse and when he couldn’t get away from me since I was holding his reins, he reared. Did I mention that Les was behind us on Sugar? Kobi backed into her, but good ole Sugar just stood her ground.
I admit was I caught off guard and didn’t react as swiftly as I would have liked. After using some colorful language, I reprimanded Kobi. Poor Les had no idea what just happened, he just watched me come unglued. I turned and looked at him and simply said, “He bit me,” and raised my shirt to show him. Les’s response was only, “Oh, my.”
He chose to move Sugar out of the line of fire while I un-cinched Kobi and fixed his saddle the way I should have in the first place. During the remainder of the trail ride I kept wondering why Kobi bit me. Sure, I had done some stupid things, but I had done WAY dumber things in the past and he hadn’t reacted that way.
The saddle I was using was relatively new. Earlier in the year I felt that the saddle we always used was pinching his shoulders so Kobi’s movement were limited. I had the saddle I used on Jake, which was much wider, so started using it on Kobi. We didn’t ride much this summer, due to the intense Florida heat, so our lessons have just started back up again and Kobi’s attitude lately has been horrible. He refuses to move quicker than a jog and is constantly falling in on his inside shoulder.
I’ve been toying with the idea of switching back to our trusty Fabtron saddle for awhile now, and after Kobi bit me I decided to try it again. After our ride, I untacked him and switched out saddles. When I went to tighten the cinch, nothing. No reaction from Kobi at all. He didn’t pin his ears or swing his head towards me. Since it was getting dark, I couldn’t take him back out and try the old, faithful saddle to see if his attitude changed at all, but over the next few days I’ll see if that makes the difference.
Lesson learned – when Kobi tries to tell me something, don’t wait until he bites me to listen.