Well he isn’t a jerk all the time. He has is moments of sweetness, but Metro battles with his inner demons. And that is mostly my fault. For the last year I was the one who let him get away with it. A year ago when Metro’s diagnosis showed that the bone growth in his knees was getting worse, and the vet said we would have to euthanize him in a year or two, I stopped ground working him. But Metro is a horse who needs constant groundwork. He has such huge personality that if it isn’t kept in check, soon he is going to start testing you to see what he can get a way with. And I was letting him get away with everything. I just couldn’t being myself to discipline an ailing horse when he got out of line. I kept giving him more rope until I ended up hanging myself with it.
A little push with the nose every time I walked in front of him, turned into a little nip, which turned into him trying to bite me every time I got close to him. He wasn’t being malicious or trying to harm me. Just seeing if he could threaten to bite me without me backing his butt up down the length of the aisle. He was just establishing himself at the top of the food chain, in our relationship of two. The secret with Metro, and most horses, is tho move their feet very time they do something bad. Moving their feet establishes that you are the dominant one in the relationship. As Clinton Anderson says, “The first one to move their feet loses.”
So when we found out that the treatments we were doing on Metro actually reversed the bone growth in his knees, and he wasn’t going to die in two years, I got the vets approval to start ground working him again. Metro needed an “Attitude Adjustment” in a big way. I know he has a lot of fans, who think he is the sweetest horse in the world, and some will take offense with me for saying he is a jerk, but I have grown to like all of my fingers, and want to keep them. I am growing tired of Metro’s shenanigans, and now I am going to do something about it.
When he was getting ground worked regularly, he was a pretty good horse to be around. Yes, he still had some attitude, but I have grown to accept that. I don’t want him to be docile, I still want him to be Metro, I just want him to stop trying to bite me. It’s not that much to ask.
Things changed for Metro within the first 5 minutes of our new groundwork regimen. Metro is a pretty obedient horse. He will do anything I ask. I can back him up 20 feet by just a slight wiggle of my finger, but he always gives me the feeling that he is “Flipping me off” whenever he does something I ask him to. So five minutes into our first groundwork session I asked Metro to trot small circles around me. The exercise is called “lunging for respect.” Nothing hard, he is not asked to trot for 20 minutes, just a few small circles to get him to move out when I point and ask him to. But he was crowding my space. He wasn’t as far away from me as I would like, so I held my training stick out in front of my to move him out of my space. That’s when Metro took it as his cue to “flip me off” and kick out a rear leg in my direction.
“Oh no you just didn’t!…” That’s when I went after him and preceded to chase him backwards across the arena. When we stopped, Metro stood 6 feet in front of me, lowered his head and licked his lips. When a horse does this, it is a good thing. It means he is relaxed and thinking, and right now Metro was thinking “I haven’t seen this guy in a while”. For the rest of the day, Metro was a perfect gentleman. He learns quick, and I think he learned today that our relationship is “under new management”.
You can help find homes and second careers for retired racehorses at New Vocations by purchasing Metro designed products at www.DreamGreenUSA.com.