“The best way to handle a snorty horse…is let some other idiot ride him” Dave Stamey, “Talkin Bronc Ballet Blues”
In Bars’ younger days he was definitely a bit on the snorty side. The first time I ever rode him (bareback, with halter and lead rope) he crowhopped on me a little bit. Well, I figured, he’s been standing in a paddock for the best part of 18 months, so it will take a little effort to put some manners back on him. Uh huh. Yeah. I had no idea what I was doing.
I soon learned that Bars is snorty just because he’s that way. He likes to hop and skip, to run, to jig, and kick up his heels any way he can. He likes to blow air out of his nose and pretend he’s Pepe LePiu. In the early years he did this a lot because, as my trainers explained, he had learned that he could not trust his rider and he was fearful. But as time went on and the bond between us grew, I learned that he also does it for FUN—and sometimes just for joy.
Bars is generally a joyful personality. He loves people, loves attention, and especially loves girls. He doesn’t care if the girls are children, adult people, other horses….he loves girls. And he shows off for his girls by being bucky-snorty. He doesn’t buck to dislodge his rider. I’ve come to believe that he bucks because he’s happy—he likes to go fast and when he’s allowed to he’s nearly beside himself for joy. Luckily his idiot rider (me) has learned to expect these displays of excitement and just ride through them.
This level of excitement has not diminished a great deal over time. A couple of years ago there was a play day at our old barn. For those who may not know, a play day is a event where people can gather to do silly races and games with their horses. You can run or trot through a series of courses, including barrels, that demonstrate not just speed but control. For reasons perhaps left for another day, I chose to participate in this particular play day on my sidesaddle. Well, Bars was so excited over wearing his “special saddle” he was just beside himself. I had to dismount between events because he wouldn’t stand, and when we did our turns trotting (mostly) through the courses, he snorted, he blew, he picked up his front feet, and when asked to run for the finish line…yep, he bucked.
As he’s gotten older he’s become a bit less energetic with these displays and in the new stable he’s been snorty more often from anxiety than from joy…but the joy is returning. It’s great to see…because when your horse is an official Old Man and he still feels good enough and joyful enough to be snorty….you share the joy. Even if you are the idiot riding him.