Saturday, November 15, 2008

Harvey dissed: Harrumpf!

Last Saturday Bob and I went to see Harv. When we arrived, we found a gaggle of boarders standing around his stall. Harv had been left in his stall while other horses were turned out. His turnout partner was being ridden, and his outside time was delayed by an hour or so. He was none too happy and was:

  • reaching out his dutch door to bite the rear ends of passing horses
  • head butting people who get too close
  • Bellowing loudly
  • Rushing against the stall bars
Two or three boarders began joking about his obnoxious behavior; it sounded like this was not an isolated incident. I stood sheepishly as my barn mates regaled me with stories of Harv's naughtiness. "He sounds like a moose!" "His ears are flat against his head!" He bares his teeth!" "He's really pissed off!"

I pulled him out of the stall and put him in cross ties, hoping he would calm down. He did, especially when Bob gave him an apple, and within a few moments he was looking rather mild. One boarder, a woman I don't know well, was grooming her horse nearby. She had not joined in the friendly scolding. She was walking past Harvey with her grooming box, and as she passed him and he reached out to touch her with his nose. It looked like your basic "treat check" to me, but technically he was being fresh.

This woman recoiled as if he'd given her an electric shock, and she angrily exclaimed "Stop that!" She held her hand up as if she expected him to lunge at her. The emotion in her voice disturbed me -- it was as if she'd reached her wits end. Had Harv done something to this woman or to her horse? Her mare is around the corner from Harv but they would not normally cross paths.

So what's up with this lady? She must have overheard us talking. I suspect part of her reaction to demonstrate that not everyone thinks bad manners is funny. I chose not to say anything to her. Harv and I went out and had a good ride.

Update: This happened last week and I have to admit it cast a shadow over my day. I never thought of Harv as a "problem horse" but clearly he had been naughty enough to generate barn buzz. I'd been letting him have his way a lot, reasoning that he's an old codger and entitled to be grumpy. Time for some anger management and a chain over the nose for corrective action. This Saturday I ran into the same boarder who had reacted so strongly to Harv's nudge. She was friendly to Bob and I, and she gave Harv a carrot. So I guess this little incident has blown over. Thank goodness.


  1. Poor Harvey. He looks like a Good Horsie to me.

  2. Just my thoughts but it sounds like barn politics to me.
    I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves riding because that's what it is all about - the relationship between you and your horse and it sounds to me as if you are a fantastic team.

  3. First of all, you know he has an adoinrg fan club here. I agree that one cannot ignore naughty behavior, but it seems to me that people who over react like this don't understand horses. It makes me shake my head. Harv is in a new place. Of course he's more insecure for a while. Poor old guy. Although I understand one cannot over look naughtiness, but then one doesn't have to over react like those people did either (she said shaking her head again.)

  4. "Sounds like a moose"

    HEE! I literally LOL'd at that one. Poor grumpy ol' beast. This post makes me want to snuggle crabby Harv. 2 questions though...

    1. He can't go out by himself for an hour or two?
    2. If he was being bratty and nipping, couldn't someone shut the top door of his stall? Looking at the photo he could still see out.

    PS He looks like an ANGEL in that photo! hehe.

  5. It comes to mind that sometimes horses treat people the way they are treated by people. I'm sure he was annoyed at not being let out and missing turnout. Then being yelled at for basically nothing. So what if he was a little grumpy, I would be too.He looks like a great horse.

  6. He IS a good horsie, but things that I find easy to tolerate as an owner are probably pretty annoying to others. KB, he has been at this place for a year, so he probably is adjusted to that. CR, there is no top to the dutch door so shutting the door is not an option, and he can't go out by himself (he runs). I picked the photo b/c it shows the dutch door, but that was a mellow moment. He can be a real grouse. Thanks for the support!

  7. Nothing in this world bothers me quite the same way as someone criticizing my horse. It makes me feel quite savage.

  8. Horses will be horses. They aren't going to act the sole of discretion all the time.

    Naughty behavior isn't good, no, but it does happen, especially sometimes when a horse is getting used to a new place and routine.

  9. Harvey was stating his opinion about not going out with the other horses, and it seemed no one paid him any attention. That's where the nipping comes from. He was only trying to get the persons' or horses' attention. He may be accustomed to a routine, and when you didn't arrive at a time he thought you should have he reacted. He has a lovely head, and that nice dark colour I prefer in a dark bay.


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