Shiraz will be turning 4 years old in a few weeks. In my past experiences with horse training, 4 can be a bit interesting for some horses. Many horses sail through this stage in their growth without any hickups, but some...well, let's just say it can be very much akin to the struggles some teenagers may go through.
Shiraz came to my farm as a 6-month-old. She was sweet, brave and super laid back. Right from day one she led, tied, good for the farrier and happy to try anything. Year one and two were similar and she was such a treat to start training under saddle last year. She really did not feel ready physically though as she was still growing so much and so she got the winter off to continue filling out.
Enter this new, teenage version of Shiraz.
I saw it lately with her behavior in pasture. All along she has been happy to be on bottom of the pecking order, yet now she is pushing things and even throwing a very distant back hoof in the direction of her bossy herd mates.
She is testing waters and pushing boundaries in all directions. She tries to lean on the farrier. She suddenly wants to snort and spook at all the world she once thought was no big deal. She even has thrown a half-hearted "I'm gonna bite you" at me when I practice mounting lately.
Oh hell no.
It is awesome she is coming into her own and feeling out her place in this world, ya I get that.
But. Manners have to be in place and so ground work boot camp is now under way. I'll be fair and patient, but I certainly want to see a "Yes, Ma'am!" in her eye before we get back to saddle work.
I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting summer with this girl.
Have you ever worked with a young horse that suddenly decided to test the boundaries? Do you have any go-to exercises for instilling the leadership? I'd love to hear suggestions!