she told her horse she hated him — you won’t believe what happened next!

Blame Amanda for the clickbaity title.  Does anyone even click on those things any more?  I certainly don’t.  Anyway.

Riding Murray has been, uh… challenging for the last few days.  Yesterday I went in for a standard, let’s review what we know and maybe do a few of those new tricks we’re learning! ride and Murray was stuck epicly behind my leg.  He was so behind my leg at the trot that I kept getting lurched forward as I posted.  I tapped him with the whip a couple of times and instead of moving forward he just kinda hitched his hip and squealed at me.  I mean really, what are you, a mare in heat?  You squealed at me?!

I cantered to get him ahead of my leg and BOY did he ever want to canter.  He was barely maintaining three beats down the long sides (but did), and stretched down a little.  We did have a fight about the Spooky Corner, which is not my favourite, but I’m trying to work through it.  Anyway, we finished up with some walk to canter (okay) and an absolutely abysmal attempt to slow down the canter to walk speed, make a 10 meter circle (Murray was so on the forehand and heaving his body around he probably thought I’d just asked him to do a pirouette), and work on canter-walk.  Sigh.

Today I popped on for an easy jump school with everything set really low — sub 2 feet.  After fighting about the Scary Corner again (inside bend, inside bend, get off my inside aids creature!) in both directions, I popped him over a little X.  Noodle emerged but didn’t prevail, so we had a little walk break.  After the walk break the Noodle emerged in full force.  Every time we went by something that I felt Murray looking at I counter flexed him, and then he would find something “terrifying” on the other side to avoid!  He stopped DEAD at some flowers we have jumped approximately 20983487340 times, but with some strong leg and clucking he went over from a standstill.  It was like an 18″ X.  It was fine.

I did the same thing over a couple of other fences, and took another walk break.  It is really disheartening that absolutely every drop of courage Murray once had seems to have flown away.  The worst part is that it’s my fault but I don’t even know what I did to make this happen!  At the risk of sounding obtuse, everything seemed great (with minor bobbles) right up until it wasn’t.

Anyway, we jumped a few more new fences and I insisted that Murray listen to me by working on the jump-then-halt-a-few-strides-out exercise.  Which for Murray meant jump, break to a trot, DRAG DOWN INTO THE BIT AND NEARLY RUN INTO THE FENCE.  So that was nice.  I did eventually get down to about 10 trot steps before the halt, but it was hard.  I also insisted that Murray hop promptly into every transition when I asked him to every time, instead of at some to-be-determined-time-later.  This was hard.  It got me a few angry head flips but after a few goes seemed to be working.

Our last jump round was a little course I mashed together and Murray was quite good.  Then I went to the cows, which we jumped both ways in our last lesson, and the front brakes were in HEAVY use for Murray.  I’m honestly astonished this horse doesn’t break a leg with the speed at which he can go from moving forward to moving sideways all based on his front legs.  However, Murray did jump it upon re-presenting and again after that.  He rubbed it hard both times, which was interesting — I don’t know the last time he gave a hard rub to anything he was really scared of.

To add insult to injury, after our ride I went to walk into the wash racks and Murray put on the brakes there too.  At this point I’d had enough of asshattery and BEAT him backwards.  Murray flew backwards, FLEW, so fast that he actually skidded behind when he stopped.  He did not balk at going into the wash racks after.  All of this, of course, made me really feel like I LOVE this horse.  When I was leasing him rides (weeks/months) like this would just go in the column of “hahaha probably not buying this one” but now that I’m stuck with him… it’s so different.

I put him out in his pasture with his friend, and even his well-behaved friend was all kinds of in my way.  She wouldn’t move away from the gate and I had to beat her to get her out of my way so I could actually go through the gate.  It’s clearly me, right now, being so much less tolerant of horsie shenanigans, but I’m like HORZESSSS!!!! you making me cray!  Murray of course went to roll immediately, as he was all wet, and I stood around to watch because Murray is hilarious when he rolls.  He did not disappoint.

First, he let out his patented high-pitched post-roll raspberry before rolling, so that was awesome.  Then he pawed around, lay down, made fantastic noises while he was rolling, went right over, groaned, rotated 180 degrees, groaned a whole lot more, and then got up on one side.  He made this groaning “hhhheeeeeee” while he wiped his face on his forearms, then stood up, and made another amazing high pitched raspberry.  And I laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed.

I do love this horse.  With everything he’s throwing at me, I do love him.

He makes the funniest sounds.

A post shared by Nicole Sharpe (@nicolegizelle) on

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15 thoughts on “she told her horse she hated him — you won’t believe what happened next!

  1. I love your blog title! Totally awesome 🙂 What is with those links anyway? Does anyone ever really click them?

    I love your positive attitude towards Murray. Baby TBs = much patience and a short memory 🙂

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    • It’s possible he has ulcers. I don’t know. I’ve treated him a bunch of times in the past and it never has seemed to make a big difference in his behavior under saddle. It’s made a change with his behavior about the girth. Maybe it’s time to get some blue pop rox though.

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  2. Every couple of months, we do this again to a greater or lesser degree. Courage has to ask “do you REALLY REALLY mean it when you say that?”

    I’m learning that he’s always going to ask, but the more times I ride correctly through the disobedience, hopefully the easier it gets.

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  3. That clickbait title made me irrationally angry. In any case… you’re doing all the right things! With a horse like that who always asks, “ARE YOU SURE THIS IS WHAT WE DO IN THIS SITUATION BECAUSE I FEEL THAT NOT JUMPING MAY BE THE ANSWER HERE???” you have to be tirelessly patient. It’s really, really hard. But Murray is still young and eventually his brain will mature and you will get past this. But it’s hard. Hang in there!

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  4. My girl is really testing my patience at the moment too. You’re right though, at the end of the day it’s all so ridiculous you just have to laugh 🙂

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  5. Literally spent 45 minutes trying to even mount up the other day, so I hear you. Sometimes my mare’s only redeeming qualities are adorable looks and cute noises as well. Best of luck working through this phase!

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  6. oh man…. if patience is a virtue you are a saint. good luck working through it. obvi there’s the whole ‘check to make sure it’s not a physical issue first’ thing, but i’m about 200% sure you’re already doing that. hopefully your persistence will pay off sooner rather than later! in the meantime, Murray noises ftw

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