What an Attitude!


What an attitude! That’s what I was thinking after I went down to the barn to see my boys, Jazz and Apollo.

So, I went down to the barn and my boys were in their stalls finishing breakfast. I wanted to let them out and just hang out for a while. Part of my thinking process was that I missed my boys so much I really wanted to see them and play. The other part of my thinking was that I needed to check the fencing and do my maintenance upkeep since I had not been out in about 10 days.

You know how life gets in the way sometimes, between the stay at home orders, the cold weather, the high gusty winds and the rain, plus all the inside chores I needed to do…time seemed to go by too fast and before I realized it had been over a week.

Apollo, as usual, was happy to see me and whinnied a hello the second he saw me, but on no not Jazz. For Jazz, this was a bit unusual as he is normally thrilled to get out and play. Plus, he normally whinnies when he sees me as well. He did stick his head out of the stall to see me, but no hello whiny. The second he saw me he put his head back in the stall.

Well, I let Apollo out who couldn’t give me a hug fast enough and wanted immediate attention and scratches. Then he sauntered off to eat some nearby grass.

I went to Jazz’s stall next to see what was up and he had his head in his feed bucket, still picking at his food. I thought, oh that’s why he didn’t give me the usual “hello” when I first got here.

But no again. As soon as I started to talk to him he turned all the way around with his rear end towards the door and his head in the opposite corner. Then I thought, “is he ok?”. So, I went in to check him out and he seemed fine, except that he wasn’t going to give me the time of day.

He wasn’t being mean, he just ignored me and purposefully was giving me the cold shoulder.

What an attitude!

I tried to go up and scratch his head and neck and talk to him but again, he turned around, picked his head up, and wanted nothing to do with me.

I got the message loud and clear, so I opened his stall gate and let him out. However, instead of coming out, Jazz just stood in his stall with his head away from me.

So, now what?

I had ruled out that he wanted to continue eating breakfast, that he was sick or hurt, so the only thing left was …

It had to be my fault. But what had I done to deserve this treatment?

We hadn’t had any bad dealings, no one new was at the farm working with him, I hadn’t asked him to do anything difficult or something he didn’t want to do, and then it dawned on me.

He was mad at me because I had gone from playing with him and seeing him 3-4 times a week or more to once in the last 10 days. He felt slighted and ignored and he was telling me that he wasn’t too happy about it. I could feel his disappointment and sadness.

He was pouting.

I then felt so bad. My heart hurt thinking that he felt I had done this on purpose or that I had just forgotten him.

I had gotten so caught up with everything else in my world that I had let my relationship with Jazz and Apollo slide. Apollo was happy to see me, but I could still feel his disappointment that I hadn’t been out more.

Jazz wanted me to know he was sad and upset because he felt that he had been ignored. This was his way of showing me what that felt like.

I then sat down on the bench by the barn and verbally apologized to him. I spoke from my heart. The second I had finished he turned around, popped out of his stall, and came right over to give me a hug. I had been forgiven.

Even though all was forgiven, the relationship was still a bit broken. There was now a disconnect that I could see and feel. I had to heal this for his sake as well as mine. Things were not just the same as the last time I was with him.

Things change and relationships change. To have a good, deep, and long-lasting friendship you need to nurture and develop it. Yes, things will change on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on what’s going on, but a real relationship not only takes time, but it takes work.

You need to check in with each other every time you see each other again to reconnect and make sure everything is all well and good. That’s the first thing you do with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, right? That’s also the premise behind a “date night” when you’re married…trying to reconnect and keep that spark and good relationship.

Jazz and Apollo and I went out to the best grassy spot I knew and we just hung out together sharing the sunny day, the cool breezes, and the wonder and beauty of the world around us.

And by the time it started getting cooler again and I knew it was time to check on the other horses…Jazz and Apollo were back to their happy selves and snuggling with mommy again. It felt like nothing had ever happened.

What a great feeling of love and connection.

Sometimes we get caught up in other things and we don’t go out to see our horses or spend time with them as much as they, or we, would like. And sometimes our horses get used to our habits or patterns when we see them, which then can lead to disappointment on their side when we change our habits and can’t get out to see them as much.

There is a lot that goes into building and developing a relationship and a friendship with your horse but here are my top 3 suggestions…

  1. Spend as much quality time as you can with your horse, just getting to know each other in a calm, relaxed, enjoyable manner in nature. That is time not ‘DOING’ anything, but rather just ‘BEING’ with each other.
  2. Don’t take the friendship for granted. If there is a disconnect, or you’ve been gone for a while, take the time it takes to re-connect. Think and feel with your heart and make sure you let your horse know that the relationship you two have together is extremely important to you.
  3. Play together. Have fun together doing things that your horse enjoys as well as yourself.

Don’t forget to be patient as well. Sometimes you need to take a few steps back in order to move forward.

After I left Jazz and Apollo and I was on cloud 9, I went to say hello to Kit and Danny. Kit was just like Apollo and couldn’t wait to give me snuggles and was thrilled to see me. But Danny acted a bit like Jazz. He whinnied a hello from a distance when he saw me and then acted like, “oops I forgot, I’m mad at her for not coming out in a while”. He then walked away from the fence and totally ignored me.

Here’s a video showing how that reconnect went with Danny.

I’d love to hear how you’re bearing up in the Comments below and also it would be wonderful for all us to hear any good news stories you have to share! Thanks 🙂

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  • Gina Danna says:

    I can totally relate to this! I’ve had my Arabian gelding for a decade and yeah, he’d go thru spells when I wasn’t there enough to be like ‘screw you!’ for not being there; or he’d have a scratch/cut, as if ‘she’ll come if I hurt myself’ (or so I was convinced); now, he’s a little better, cuz he knows I’ll come. It doesn’t mean he won’t have an attitude, but it’s dim.

    My Arabian mare, who I rescued in January, is different. She’s still adjusting to being free from harm. Not sure of her history, but thinking it wasn’t good – perhaps abuse/neglect and I got her off the slaughter pen line, so that was hard on her. So she’s gun-shy or totally ‘no-way!’ on halters, leads, and anything in my hands. YET we’ve made progress, first with me grooming, then grooming her tail to last time, I got her to come to the pasture gate for a treat and she let me treat her/pet her with a halter/lead in my other hand (a 1st!); granted, my gelding was there, trying to get the treat for her, but he needs to go to ‘Apples Anonymus’ (?) lol. BUT if I haven’t been there in a while (like over a week, thanx to work & weather), she goes back to being aloof, walking away from me. So yeah, need to stress getting there more. Love them both!

  • Hi Teddie, I had that same experience. I had had foot surgery and couldn’t go out and see my horse. I usually go out 5 days a week and then not to be there for at least 3 weeks. I had a couple of teenagers at the ranch look after him, but then the ranch was closed because of the virus and I couldn’t go out. When I finally could, Harley did the same thing. I never really used the words disappointment, sadness, or pouting, but you are absolutely right. I’m sure that is what he felt. We are back to normal now and I go out every other day. Sure did miss my horsey hugs and kisses.
    Thank you for this article.

  • Cynthia Lacoeur says:

    Hello! Such great advice! I recently had major surgery. Just at the beginning of quarantine- they told me to be prepared for 4-7 days in the hospital. I was so worried I wouldn’t get home to celebrate Tioga’s 20th birthday & give him an apple. Turns out my surgeon came in on day 2 & sent me home “ to be safe”. I got home 1 day prior to his birthday.

    I requested a stop at my barn before going into my house. I just so needed to see my guys. I could not walk up to my barn – but I got a ride from my son again & gave him an apple &carrot on his birthday. No selfie together though. I felt so much better seeing them. I felt a little selfish. I had hired a neighbor to do morning feedings & pretty soon I was following g him around while he fed & mucked … I just could not wait to be alone with my horses again.. it was my goal to do feedings & I got stronger because I had them.

    I just love your stories, please keep writing! Stay safe & healthy!

    • AWWWWWW. Thank you, Cynthia. What a great story. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

  • Yes, this is what happens a lot with Mille. I have to take time to reconnect a lot. But for each time our connection is getting better in small steps. Just now in this spring he comes wheinning and running to me.

    • That’s the nice part. Each time there is a disconnect, the reconnection is faster and deeper.

  • Rebecca Robinson says:

    My Sundance, who had always been stand-offish with people in general ever since I got him about a year and a half ago, was very ill with colic right before shutdown….I was with him all day every day for a week. Then he had to be exercised daily despite police presence, getting out of the house restrictions and blockages. So I told the police he’d almost died and had to be ridden gently daily and got permission to ride around our long block. We’ve been together daily ever since, and my shy horse, who would take off into his pasture if anyone neared, now greets me at his gate, lets me rub his face and ears….boy, that used to be a no-no!….opens his mouth for his bridle and grazes right up to my boots after we ride. It’s a connect, rather than a reconnect, but it makes me joyful.

    • What a beautiful story Rebecca. Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad you were still able to see your horse during the shutdown. 🙂

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