When They’re Just Not Feeling It

Finally, finally, we can ride again now that the rain has stopped, and I’ve ridden a few times this week, just flatting and getting back into a program. Last night when I pulled Val out of his pasture, my usually exuberantly friendly and happy horse was just kind of…dull and even a little cranky. Even though I sometimes get a little sass from him, this was a bit different. He definitely wasn’t colicky or anything, but he just wasn’t feeling like himself. So I scrapped my original plan, which was to school over some small jumps and really work on our canter between fences, and planned to just putter around and do whatever it felt like Val was game for.

I didn’t even put my spurs on.


This is my happy place!

Walking out to the mounting box I had more of the same mopiness, and I let him just wander around the arena at a walk on the buckle for a bit before I picked up a trot. I actually had to cowboy kick a few times just to keep him trotting, and I opted to hop over a cross rail to pick up our canter, and after a lap or two, I just started popping over everything in the arena.

I let Val make all the decisions, and I used only my legs and upper body to slow down and steer, leaving a loop in the rein. It took a few jumps, but by the end of our ride, he picked up a little hand gallop all on his own and finally felt more like himself and like he was having a good time.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised that I was able to rate him just by bringing my body back, and that I was able to do a couple of roll backs without ever touching my rein.


No clue why my horse insists on standing in the pouring rain to eat, but so glad this is over for now.

After our maybe 15 minutes ride, we walked all over the property (which isn’t that large, but he still loves the exploring) and then I stuffed him full of even more cookies than usual, just to make sure the experience was pleasant, and he was happy and snuggly again by the time I put him away.

Even though my original plan was derailed, I think it was good for us to put in a ride that was no pressure and was just fun for the both of us. I found out as I was leaving that he was just super worn out from playing around with his pasture mates like a lunatic the past few days, but even still, I left feeling like we’d done exactly what we needed to. It’s got to be fun for the both of us. What do you do when your horse just isn’t feeling like him/herself?

11 thoughts on “When They’re Just Not Feeling It

  1. Jenn

    I do something exactly like this when Roger is cranky: lots of long and low and relaxed flat work, maybe a few trot and canter poles thrown in if he feels like it, but I generally just give him the reins (literally and figuratively) and he makes most of the decisions. Sometimes a change in scenery from the ring to our large grass field is just what the doctor ordered too 🙂

    1. I was concerned until our usual cross-tie poop, and then when he was feeling better after the ride I knew we were fine. I was a little worried though.

  2. Woah, that’s a lot of rain. And mud. Geez. My mule is never the same on any given day. Some days she’s pokey and slow, some days a fire-breathing dragon train. So I don’t really know what would feel “wrong” for her. But I’m always up for just taking a trail ride down to the creek or over to the winery if the day’s not going well.

  3. Abby F

    If my horse isn’t feeling it, I get out of the ring and either ride in the polo fields, gallop around the track, or trail ride

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