Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Okay So I'm not Completely Nuts


One of my ex-students came out to try Top. She was thinking of taking him for the winter. She's a good rider. Rides probably 5 days a week on many different horses. She works for a dressage/training facility. So, she's not a chicken, or looking for issues. I told her most of what I'd experienced with Top.


I have her go get him, and tack him up. Figured she should handle him from beginning to end. I wanted to see if she was comfortable with him, and he was comfortable with her. Everything went well. She laughed at 'how small' he is. lol Top is an honest 16.1 to 16.1 and a half. Little in her world now. I told her he was about as big as I was willing to go anymore. It's not the size while riding so much as the on and off. lol I climb on the fence to get on Top. I can mount from the ground, but I read something about that being hard on them. So, I try to mount none of them from the ground anymore. I'm getting used to it...it is harder for me to get on from the fence or mounting block. 40 years of getting on from the ground builds some muscle memory and habits.


She lunged him, and he was really quiet. He did have shots the day before. She did note that his quietness wasn't 'real'. She was watching him close. She was trying to figure out what it was...I told her, "He's holding through his back, don't believe his quietness now." She laughed again, "Oh, I'm not. We're going to go around a few more times and see that go away before I get on."


She gets on. Hates my new saddle. It pushes you toward a chair seat...I thought so too, but so many people kept saying, "No, it looks good. You look much better in this saddle." I don't like it. It doesn't give a hugely secure feeling if things get 'western'. It also may be that it is new to me. I'll keep riding it and see.


So, she's riding Top around. He looks good. He looks calm. I figure, 'okay, it's me. I'm creating monsters where none exist.' About the moment this is running through my head she says, "I get what you mean about the timebomb feeling." Kind of a double edged sword there. Glad that I'm not nuts, but bummed that he is such a mess. Now, something I never mentioned to her, or anybody else is he does this funky thing with his neck. It is kind of behind the vertical, but not. It is an empty feeling with no contact or control. It is like he isn't there. She pipes up, "I can't deal with the weird neck thing. I feel like I've got nothing...that if he does something there is nothing I can do." Uhhhmmm YUP.


So, she rode for awhile. I then got on. He was actually having a pretty good day. I didn't have any moments of 'oh man, what's he going to do'. He went along really well for Top. We weren't riding in drawreins.


The deal is, I have 30 to 60 days to get him lined out. She doesn't feel she is equipped to deal with his issues at this time. (So, the old fat woman is up) So he needs to be going forward between my elbows and knees, staying in his 'box' and respecting boundaries without checking out...and not feeling like a timebomb. lol If I can do this, he'll have a great winter with her south of here. Getting ridden through the winter, taken out on trails, and she may ride him in her lessons. He'll be in a dressage barn, where things are quiet and sane. I am concerned about trying to keep him in town this winter. With the woman that antagonizes him, I'm not sure he can go in his stall. He panics in there now. Which is a real bummer. He loved his stall...his little secure happy place. (Hoping for Karma on this one in regards to this 'trainer'). So, I have to have him going decently before the rains come.


I'll be riding him today.

26 comments:

fernvalley01 said...

If it can happen ,I think that would be great . I hear you on the feeling old and well we will say plump ( I have seen your picks ,you ain't fat!) Hopefully you will get him there ,I think you can , look how far he has come with you. Too bad about the twit that antagonises him .I am afraid I might get a little "western" with her ! "Kind of LEAVE MY HORSE ALONE"What in the world makes her think that is OK?

kestrel said...

Hmm, whapping the silly twit that deliberately antagonizes a horse upside the head is western?! Yup, western it would be...evil music playing...vampire teeth emerging...

I think that Top is lucky to have someone like you, and I think now that you know it's him and not you, you'll be able to get deep enough into his head to solve his issues.

On the saddle, trust yourself. If it doesn't feel right... it's not. What works for one person doesn't for another. I got suckered into riding one of the new Parelli saddles, and no amount of rationalization is ever going to make the darn things feel comfortable, correct, or safe. At least not for me. Can't stand the 'back on the butt, lower back reverse curve' seat that it forced me into, and the leg rolls wouldn't allow my hips to work. Painful! One short ride and I was outa there.

kestrel said...

Oh, and one trick that I used on the nutso mare...
She would lock down the minute I stepped on, like if she could block me out mentally I didn't exist, then she would realize I was up and blow up. I spent some time just laying across her back and getting her to bend her head and neck back for an alfalfa pellet, talking to her and getting her to SEE me. Worked both sides to get her to look at me as I girthed up, etc. I used a 2 tap on her neck as a cue to 'turn head, look at me, and get cookie,' so when I felt her starting to check out we could regroup without fear. Whichever side of the neck was tapped was the direction to turn her head. Once she started to look at me, she started to depend on me. Goofy old gal was in her teens then and a total nut case. A year later the owner's teenage daughter rode her in Pony Club. Go figure...

horspoor said...

I think that's a good idea Kestrel. Something that refocuses him, without stress. I try to ignore his worry, in the hopes that if I'm not worried, he'll follow suit. I may have to be more active in his not worrying.

I would like to do something to the woman/trainer that antagonizes him. But now the damage is done, and I'm not sure it can be undone.

kestrel said...

Actually, for Top's sake, I might make a point of telling her firmly...in Top's presence...to stay away from him and cease whatever she's been doing to him.

My Arab mare has been my darlin' since we had a stupid driver on a cell phone look at us and drive towards us! I jumped off my girl and was yelling at the driver and swinging the reins and trying to figure out how to kick her door in...total horse owner's rage! Mare looked at me in a totally different light from that day forward. She realized that I would fight for her.
When I got her she'd gone from western pleasure to endurance and was a screwed up mess. Afraid of her own shadow, explosive, frantic. I can ride her anywhere now, and she has turned into a calm girl.

GoLightly said...

You are most entirely definitely not nuts.

The disappearing act isn't a pleasant feeling.
Like there is nothing there. Yeah.. Chaz wasn't nearly as catty as Top obviously is...
Helps to have liquefied joints;)
Or a twenty year old body:)

Giant teleporting Arab, with a vanishing front end.
whew.
You're braver than I could be. But way nicer. I'd go western on that idjit at the barn,too. But then it might get worse when you're not there:(

But hey, what kestrel said. Maybe in front of Top, you could clearly tell her..
Then he'll know he can bite her, if you're not there.

gawd, some people.

horspoor said...

Today, I was giving a lesson to a beginner. She comes by with 3 or 4 ponies. Asks if I mind if she turns them loose to free run them. I said, "I'd prefer you didn't." She then says, "Oh, they wont be out of control. We're just going over there."

Then proceeded to turn the minis or ponies or whatever the hell they are loose, and chase them with swinging ropes.

I'm telling you....Karma is going to have to take care of this one.

Oh, this was a group lesson she was giving. She gets paid for this crap.

blueheron said...

OMG. What an accident waiting to happen. Why she is allowed to keep pretending to be a riding instructor is beyond me.
And I thought the purpose of asking someone if they minded if you did X was to follow their wishes? As in, "Oh, okay. We'll go over to this other arena." or "When will you be finished with your lesson? We'll come back then."

Never mind the fact that free running horses in the arenas is against the stated rules.

blueheron said...

And this was while you were giving a lesson to your fragile student?
Augh.

horspoor said...

Yup, it was the fragile one. Unbelievable huh. The kid's attitude isn't fragile at all. Too brave maybe. lol

blueheron said...

She's a whippy thing, at least from what I saw when we were looking at Skippy. Bravery kind of exudes from her.

kestrel said...

Is there anyone in charge at the barn to lodge an objection with? Horse laws do NOT cover negligence and the barn owners could find themselves sued big time. If anything had happened to your student the barn would be absolutely liable if the trainer is working for them.

That's absolutely a can of whup ass in the making. Endangering people is not okay, ever.

horspoor said...

Nope Kestrel.

It's owned by the state of California. It is the Fairgrounds. One of my other students was watching...and listened to the whole conversation. Was shocked. The other trainer is soooo stupid. My other student works for the fairground's in the office.

nccatnip said...

Jeez, HP looks like we need to make a visit to that trainer. How stupid can you be?

kestrel said...

Hmmm, the fairgrounds barn is unsupervised?! Scary stuff. Do you have to pay to use the barn?

Nicely dun said...

Hey I know what you mean with the "disappearing thing" where they arent quite behind the vertical but you feel like there is nothing there other than your seat on their back...
Dun has tried this.
Quick lift on the outside rein and he cuts it out(usually.)
Its a crappy habit...
I try to keep him "between my leg and my hand" but sometimes it feels like hes beyond everything and just moving like a freight train...
Dont know if I am making any sense:D
but either way, hes a cutie pie. I agree, lucky boy to has you!

horspoor said...

NDun, that usual fix...triggers a rear. Nice, huh. lol

kestrel said...

Hmm, Top is sounding more and more like a type of horse that I've dealt with probably 8 or 10 times over the years. Trained by someone who was good enough to get into them on a gut deep level, and break their heart and brain. There's a trainer in this area (may he be reincarnated as his own horse!) whose horses do very well in the show ring...except for the bright and sensitive ones. Those ones get so afraid to make a mistake that they blow up dangerously when anything goes the least bit different or wrong, or even might go wrong! The trainer strips them of their ability to communicate, and leaves them locked up in their own crazy world where nothing makes sense to them.

I used draw reins to hold them down, the cookie trick to get their attention, and also used a trail class setup in the arena to keep them from sinking into "I know I have to perform this set pattern and can never screw up" apathy. I'll hide pellets on obstacles, and haul their head around and look them in the eye and ask "what the hell are ya thinkin' ya big goober?!" when they try to blow up. That type of horse doesn't evade with their body so much as their mind. They just seem to leave...

Lots of laughter, and what I call 'noogy noogy kid' training. Kids wallow all over their horses, talk to them, and let the horse talk back. I don't worry about getting the movements they already know refined in any way, because I figure they already know that stuff TOO well. I just keep tweaking and playing with them until the light bulb moment of "you're trying to TALK with me and you LISTEN" shows up in their eyes. That look just makes me cry.

horspoor said...

Oh, very good Kestrel. I was heading that direction, but was second guessing myself. I hadn't thought of the putting treats out in places for him.

I do the noogy-noogy thing to him. He'll get worried, and I'll reach down rub his neck, lean over rub his pole and laugh at him. He usually settles.

The checking out is still a concern. That he mentally just leaves makes it tough. I just keep trying to refocus him. Sometimes when he refocuses he explodes or panics. I've had him hunkered down, reins swinging, running backwards and sideways. I just sit the ride out...figure we aren't going anywhere, we're in the arena. Only once has he let his air out in a long blow, and been 'calm' after these episodes. He usually feels all tense, like, "Boy, I'm really going to get it now." It's improving...as soon as I pat him, and ask him forward again he seems more settled.

kestrel said...

That's so sad...that he really knows he's going to get it. Wouldn't you just like to do a walk by slapping to whoever embedded that in the poor horse's mind!!! (Walk by slappings give you more time than drive by slappings!)

It sounds like you've got a great handle on Top. I'd try to keep his workouts different enough that he has to engage his mind, and when he's fully engaged stop and visit with him, just real friendly like. When he learns that being engaged is okay you'll be able to make checking out not so attractive by changing direction or pace when you feel him start to shut down, then ease up and be friends when he come back to you mentally. Since the problem is him checking out, solving that problem is the key. The draw reins will help since he respects them enough to not go into really explosive mode, so I'd use them as long as he needs them.

The crazy mare that I reworked went in draw reins for over 6 months. A lot of people gave her owner hell, but that mare didn't get nuts in one day and it took that long to get her sane. It worked, and to me that''s all that matters. The mare absolutely HAD to have a boundary that she couldn't evade... to handle being forced back into the world long enough to figure out it had changed!

GoLightly said...

kestrel makes Me cry.

Applause, applause...

sniffle..

kestrel said...

Aww shucks GL, embarrassed grin...

horspoor said...

I agree Kestrel. It makes sense. I still get frustrated when he has a good day, and the next he's a loon. Or, he has a good day and the local experts act all vindicated like I'm missing the boat on this horse, and he's fine. I notice none of them have offered to step up and get on.

Thank goodness I genuinely like him. He's actually a real sweetheart. I think that is what got him in so much trouble, and allowed him to become so spun. He tries too hard.

I think his zoning out is his form of self preservation. If I'm not here, it can't get me.

Hopefully, I can get to him today, and set up some ground poles. Salt some peppermints along the fence posts. lol

I agree GL...great posts from Kestrel. Excellent even. lol

kestrel said...

I just understand the Top horses so well because I tend to react the same way...as I lock down and scuttle on outa here...:)

horspoor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blueheron said...

Hopefully that "trainer" won't be there, trying to teach her little students how to free run ponies.

If the warmblood owning, all-knowing person is there, and asks why you're putting peppermints everywhere, tell her you're consulting with a trainer from Montanna. lol. Pretty soon, she'll have everyone doing it.