Stirrup Biting

October 8, 2014

Last weekend at the Mid-Atlantic #4 competition something odd happened that could potentially have been disastrous.


It was the second session, I had gone first in a race and was done and cheering on my team behind the A line. Poe was biting my stirrups, which is something he does when he is anxious. All of a sudden, he started to flip out and spin. I quickly dismounted and stepped out of his way to assess the situation.  He had gotten my stirrup caught in his mouth and around his lower jaw. He was pulling away, which only made it tighter, and spinning in circles. I spent a quick minute or two trying to calm him down so I could get close enough to remove it, and we were lucky he stayed behind the A line, mostly in our own lane, and did not interfere with any riders. I finally managed to grab the stirrup, which was securely wedged in, and with a bit more effort than expected, managed to lever it fee.


I got lucky on many accounts here. The first being that when he initially freaked out, he did not rear up and flip over on me, which is what it felt like he was about to do. I was able to get off relatively unharmed. He did step on my instep, which swelled that night and is still slightly bruised in color and to the touch. He stayed moderately calm considering the amount of panic in his eyes, and did not hurt himself, any other ponies, people, or my tack. I use plastic composite irons and he is in a Little S Hackamore instead of a bit, and they did very little damage to his mouth, just causing the smallest nip on his tongue and a trickle of blood. And, as any games rider would agree is important, I had already gone in the race and my team was able to continue and finish the race.


Stirrup biting is an action Poe has been getting more invested in over the season, and I have not bothered to stop him. I should never have allowed it to develop. When I climbed back on for the next race and we were packed again with our team in our lane, Poe immediately reached back to grab my stirrup. It is certainly a nervous habit, and not something he does at home, and is something I am going to have to put an end to in the competition arena.

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