So, I am happily standing in the middle of the sand school, almost having to chase Ernie round on the lunge – having opted for the so-called quicker option of lungeing rather than riding – with a smug smile on my face as I think how well behaved and polite my beautiful horse is. I am merrily admiring how his muscles have built up over the past months, satisfied that he is working correctly from behind, and feeling rather pleased with myself as he appears to be hanging on my every voice command. You could hear the birds singing, the squirrels scurrying around collecting nuts and all was pink and fluffy in our little world.
Then, as if a bolt of lightning from a horror film has shot out of the sky, a black cloud darkened our Walt Disney film atmosphere and angelic Ernie turned into Ernie the psycho horse for no apparent reason. I found my heels dug rigidly in to the ground, spiralling (literally) out of control as I lose recognition of the galloping, bucking, jumping, squealing, grunting four legged creature that was now in front of me. After the third or fourth circuit (the time when he would normally have got whatever it was that was in his system, out) I realised this was not just any explosion – this was a ‘winter has arrived’ explosion and this episode could very easily continue for anything between 1 and 10 minutes!
It’s the unpredictability that gets me – one upwards transition too many and BANG – forget ‘we hope you enjoy the trip’ and bring in ‘hang on tight you are in for a bumpy ride’! After what seemed like hours (only minutes in reality) we got to the stage where he was either going to grow horns and come at me with a spear – or return to the obedient, lovable creature that was here just minutes ago!
Normally this may concern me - wondering if there is something slightly amiss with the brain of my normally quite sensible pony – however this is the time of year when the nip in the air seems to nip them in the backside and send them sky rocketing. I am sure I am not alone in this occurrence – it tends to be for a few days once or twice a year (normally November and January) and during that time one minute you can be playing My Little Pony – the next it is more Dawn of the Dead!
After attempting several of my calmest, most placid ‘whooah’s’ to no avail – I had a decision to make. Either haul him in to a smaller circle risking him slipping over, getting faster or kicking me in the head (the bucks appeared to be aiming inwards at me - does he not remember that I am the one who feeds him?) OR simply stand there until he wears himself out – albeit it at what seemed like 100miles per hour and was possibly going to make me vomit! Option B seemed the safest option, and some time later I managed to persuade the demons to leave his brain and thus returned my slightly sweatier version of Ernie. Apart from the visible steam rising from his body – he looked at me as if to say ‘what?’ and seemed to forget that he had seconds earlier resembled something from the Omen!
Feeling slightly dishevelled and windswept (from spinning round on the spot repeatedly) I then continued our lungeing session on the other rein back in Cinderella land with a sweet, steady horse who appeared to have totally forgotten the episode previous.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for a bit of energy release and I am happy that I was not on board when this ‘whole body and brain take over’ happened – I suspect I wouldn’t have been on board for long if I had – but it does baffle me as to what exactly it is that turns them inside out when the seasons change. I know currently with winter on the way I want to do the exact opposite and just the thought of exerting any more energy than I have to makes me tired and wish for a mug of something hot.
It is like a switch that flicks over temporarily and allows all inhibitions to be dismissed and the takeover of Jack Frost to kick in. Luckily it seems to be short lived and after a few days of erratic behaviour I think I have got my horse back (for the time being anyway). Hopefully everyone else has stayed in one piece during this ‘winter had landed’ period. I am actually enjoying the crispy mornings and steamy breath at the moment and whilst winter does have its drawbacks (psycho horse syndrome being one of them) there are many reasons to love it. Nothing beats knowing they are all tucked up in their stables munching happily on their hay – plus it means Christmas is near.
As published in November's eMag, www.manage-my-horse.com