When I first got Rose, manners were something that alluded her...along with pretty much everything else. It was hard to decipher when she was acting up because she was a baby, bold, or because she was cycling. Over the winter, her cycle took a break so it was easier to simply focus on discipline and training, and forget all about hormones. Then the end of February rolled around, and hello nightmare-ish cycle mood-swings. Not that I can blame her, I wouldn't exactly want to do half the stuff I'd been asking her to do if I were all crampy. I started her on dried raspberry leaves, which seem to have helped take the edge off things, so I'll keep her on it for now, but she's still a mare and still cycles. Once we start competing in a few years from now I'll probably start her on Depo or some other means to an end in that regard.
What is my point you might ask? Yesterday was a break through for me. At the end of her last cycle, I started to notice that she danced around (now) uncharacteristically as soon as I brought her in from pasture and put her in the cross ties until she couldn't hold it any more and had to pee. A completely panicked look would wash over her as she stood there terrified that she did something bad. Regardless of my attempts to reassure her that it was okay and peeing in the cross ties is certainly nothing to get upset about, she didn't seem to retain that assurance come the next day. I had also noticed on numerous occasions that she would always pee as soon as she was put in her stall for the night. Using this observation, I decided to mix up our routine a bit and throw her in her stall for a few minutes before grooming her. Eureka! She immediately peed and then stood dead quiet in the cross ties.
That was my break through of last month, not yesterday. For the past week Rose has been her nice sweet calm self, until last night. I brought her in from the rain, put her in her stall, let her pee, removed her rain sheet, gave her a nice towel dry/massage on her exposed wet spots, and put her in the cross ties. She was grouchy, fidgety, and dancing all around the place in the cross ties....something that she seems to do once every 3 or 4 weeks....hum. I finally realized that when she's acting that way it's because she's cycling. So what did I do? I brushed her until she finally chilled out, and then let her hang out in her stall and eat her dinner. She's not misbehaving because she's a stinker, she's crampy, and I figure that her training can have a break once a month for her to be a girl.
It may seem like a simple and obvious thing that took me too long to figure out, but it took a while to get her to the point of behaving well enough, often enough, to notice her acting up for no apparent reason. So I finally get it...she's a mare. Now if only it was as easy to deal with people's mood-swings as feeding raspberry leaves and putting them in a stall!