Thursday 10 August 2017

Pasture Sass

Kachina is around halfway through her summer out in the big pasture, and she's getting a little sassy about it. She doesn't resist being caught, but once I have her halter on and I start leading her towards the gate she starts pinning her ears and trying to lead me back to the herd by turning around. Her general ground work even once I get back to the barn has gone a bit downhill as well.

I chalk this behavior up to two related factors: 1. She'd rather be in the pasture than working with me. 2. She is more concerned with her herd relationship with her pasture-mates than she is on the herd relationship between me and her (she forgets I'm boss). I have investigated physical reasons too but there doesn't seem to be any issue on that side of things so I'm just calling it pasture sass.

I know a few people who elect to keep their horses in pens in the summer because they notice a similar pattern if their horse goes out to pasture and they don't want to deal with it. I am not one of those people. My thought process is that I ride only recreationally, and my horse has to be in a pen or pasture for far more hours a week than she is with me, so I want her to enjoy that part of life. Her pasture is a pretty nice place to be if you're a horse: about 120 acres of grass to run and graze, 2-4 friends to be a herd with, good water and shelter, and even the bugs have been at historic lows due to our dry weather. I really can't blame Kachina for liking the pasture more than the arena.

They're a pretty rainbow bunch horses

I like to call this photo "Four Big Butts and a Little Ass"

In the fall the cows will come home for winter and Kachina will have to go back to her pen anyways. I don't want to accelerate that happening, so for now I am enforcing good manners on the ground, like respecting my space, leading at a respectful location, and not biting (she's never come close, but she sometimes thinks about it), but I am trying to ignore the occasional ear pin and not take it too personally.

This isn't just a blue rectangle, look carefully on the left side
and you'll see a huge bird of prey (Swainson's Hawk I believe)
that was circling and screeching above the pasture
Side note: yep, our skies are this clear and blue most days

Does this happen to anyone else, where your horse is less glad to see you when they have a primo living situation?


  1. Gorgeous pics! B is always happy to see me, Ginger tho - if she's got a huge field or a new buddy it can be a bit hit or miss and she might make me walk all the way out there to get her - she is "too busy" to come to me lol

    1. Sorry, meant to mention neither are overly herdbound tho, so I'm lucky. There are a few horses at the barn more like that, but it seems to come and go depending on the time of year, and I suspect who's in heat

    2. It's funny, I don't really think of Kachina as being herdbound, but I guess kind of is. It's situational though as she never cares about the herd while I'm riding

  2. I think if I were a horse, I'd be obsesssed with that pasture too! I can't get over how blue your skies are! So lovely. Hopefully a brief manners reminder helps Kachina remember how she is supposed to behave ☺

    1. Blue skies are nice, but it also means very little rain, so the pasture is getting mighty dry

  3. Replies
    1. She might not be truly free but I like giving her the opportunity to live more like a horse =)

  4. I think that kachina is being a totally normal horse- I want to stay in the field. It makes sense and you are handling it well. Sometimes my horses will see me come to the barn and quietly amble to the far side of the field with an air of innocence that is kinda funny. I would leave her out to run for the summer. It makes her happy.