I just cannot get over the alliterative potential.
To round out the week and make it absolutely all about Murray’s Monday Meltdown (MMM was a radio station in Adelaide when I was a child, but if I recall correctly it was nowhere near as cool as its competitor station, JJJ), I have some additional thoughts on the event brought on by discussions with some very thoughtful and kind friends/observers.
SB pointed out the C-rage has impeccable ground manners but just can’t tolerate one wash stall at their barn because of slippery footing. Our barn does not have the grippiest floors around, and Monday was cold and damp which always exacerbates the floor being slippery. Murray skittering around like a spider on ice supports this idea. But even more evidence lines up when I think about how tentatively he steps inside the barn, almost like he’s on tippy-toes, and how much more reasonable he can be when we are on grass, gravel, or sand. So maybe I need to separate the standing on unpleasant surfaces from the tacking up while I’m trying to get one or the other handled. I can tack up in his stall, or at a different spot in the barn, or even — imagine this! — in the arena where the footing his nice and grippy. There are things I can do to make this better for him.
Or maybe there are other factors about our barn (or being inside or barn) that are making Murray struggle with behavior there. I do not think Murray hates his living situation by any means — he loves going out for turnout and he loves coming back in, he naps inside his stall and out in his paddock, and loves playing with his friends. But there are things he does not love. Is this something I’m willing to change for him right now? Nope. I like where I’m at for many reasons, and there is no guarantee Mr. Sensitive will like anything else more than this. But we’ll circle back to this theory if/when I inevitably have to move (for work).
My barn manager asked me if I thought his magnesium was working. Murray has been on Animed Remission for more than six months at this point, and I have so far been very satisfied with it. But we did just open a new box. And if magnesium helps treat anxiety, and Murray is particularly anxious at the moment for whatever reason — it’s cold, he isn’t getting turnout at this moment, I went on vacation and abandoned him for a month and he missed me soooooooooooo much — it also stands to reason that he should be getting more magnesium. That’s an easy fix: doubled that.
And then there’s the thing that I actually don’t think anyone has suggested to me yet — or have you all? — saddle fit. I always assumed that Murray’s issues with tacking up didn’t have anything to do with saddle fit as they have been bad across a variety of saddles and for years and years and years and go waaaaaaaaay beyond just having a girth put on. For real. But I had a saddle fitter out and these words actually, literally, left her mouth: “I see this type of behavior all the time with horses who have poor saddle fit.” Murray’s behavior has been better and worse in a variety of saddles, and I’ve never taken enough data on it to see real patterns. I’m looking for two new saddles (yes two, if you can believe it), and we’ll see if there are any changes/differences.
Proactive/reactive coping style — I went to a really interesting talk on Friday about coping styles in pigs and behavioral and physiological correlates of two different major coping styles. Sows that are proactive (run away from you, resist handling, approach novel objects) gain more weight and (in a few studies) have more surviving offspring than sows that are reactive (freeze during handling, reluctant to approach novel objects). Are there behavior/temperament/coping style differences between horses? You betcha. Do I know anything about them? Nope.
So that’s where I’m at. If I get it together to do so, maybe I’ll put something together about horse personality types for you all.