Web Editor Victoria’s mare takes a dislike to another horse in the middle of a dressage test…
“So yesterday I took my chestnut mare Rosie to a dressage competition. I’m not sure if I’m jinxed at this venue – but the first time I went there I forgot my show jacket and had to ride short-sleeved (it was February) and this time I managed to leave my lovely long leather boots at home and had to compete in my fairly shabby boots and chaps that I ride in every day.
Needless to say, all that last minute frantic scrubbing with saddle soap (all I had available) to try to disguise the scruffiness of the boots ate into my warm up time, so the first test was a little tense. Not helped by my mare spotting herself in one of the many arena mirrors and jumping out of her skin, just before we turned up the centre line.
But our score wasn’t bad, and I had an hour before my next test to work in properly and get her relaxed and listening.
I thought I’d cracked it, but when we rode in for our second test she took a serious aversion to the horse that kept appearing in one of the other mirrors, right next to the H marker – the same mirror that hadn’t affected her much in the first test. So before the judge rang her bell, I took the opportunity to let her see her reflection, to pat and reassure her, to circle and leg yield towards the mirror, but she was having none of it.
Every time she went past that one mirror, there was that pesky horse again, and it made her crosser and crosser. Her ears went back, her teeth were gnashing, and what was worse was that every time she expressed her dislike of this space-invading horse it kept pulling similarly nasty faces back at her.
I’ve had horses that have ignored mirrors, others that are fascinated by them, and even one mare who was in season and who ‘fell in love’ with her own reflection. But never one that has taken a dislike to themselves.
The relaxed softness of our warm up vanished as Rosie obviously felt unsettled by this nasty horse who kept coming too close to her and distracting her from her test. Nonetheless, we made it round to finish fourth on a reasonably good score.
‘Lovely horse – shame about her dislike of the mirrors’ wrote the judge on my test sheet. Quite.
Now I have to figure out how to cure her of her antagonism towards herself. Maybe she needs a stable mirror, or we will have to school in plenty of places that have arena mirrors until she gets used to seeing her own face looking back at her.
Having said that, I think she was angry about seeing her own reflection…. Maybe she was just generally appalled every time she saw my disgusting boots in the mirror.”