I don’t usually get angry, but yesterday I was not very impressed.
I have been hacking out an ex racer who reared and spun for home randomly. It’s been a slow process of hacking in company, going solo, and the last month he was been foot perfect on every hack.
We were walking along the lane, at the beginning of our ride, when a rattly car and trailer appeared behind. Naturally, the horse got uptight with the noise behind, but the driver was great and waited way behind me until I found a lay by to position myself so that my horse could see the vehicle clearly. He was much happier as it passed, and we carried on calmly.
Then a few minutes later I heard hoof beats behind me. A rider and horse came into view.
“Do you mind if I go past?” She asked. Points scored for being considerate enough to ask.
I shook my head; she was obviously in a hurry.
They went into walk as they neared and I moved over so there was plenty of room for the unknown horse to pass. I slowed my walk and as she drew level with me she trotted off. All previous points earned erased.
My horse tried to trot with her, I said no. And he flipped out. Started spinning, reversing, panicking. I tried to calm him, talking away to him, stopping him running home. We could still see the horse trotting away, and the racehorse instinct was kicking in.
She must have heard the clattering of hooves, my voice, my horse neighing. But she carried on, oblivious.
Thankfully it wasn’t long before they disappeared around a corner and only then did I manage to get the horse to stop fidgeting and stop panicking. But by then he’d planted himself and it took me another couple of minutes to persuade him to carry on. He felt tense for a long part of the ride, only relaxing on the way home.
I was gutted, I felt like all of my work from the last six weeks had been undone. Would he try and turn for home on our next hack? Would he be difficult when we next passed a horse out hacking? The only positive I could find was that he’d relaxed for the second half of the ride and been very well behaved for that part.
To me, it’s common courtesy to ask if you can pass, and just keep to that gait until you round the corner or are far enough away that the other horse won’t be affected. Ok it may make you a couple of minutes late, but as you’re passing an unknown horse you don’t know how they will react, or the competency of the rider, and it’s better to be safe than sorry – I wouldn’t have liked to have fallen off onto the road!