Monday, June 25, 2012

Why I had to fire a customer

I have talked about the boarded horse a few times, let me share the Readers Digest version of the story.  I met RB4 through a Craigslist ad back in Feb or March when I was looking for a riding buddy to get the boys in shape since I can't seem to find the time to ride both of them, you probably know that by now lol. She is a good bit older but we get along well, she really likes my horses and loves Sinatra.  We rode until May when she decided to bring one of her horses over so she could ride him more.  She has 2 hackney ponies she drives (maybe twice a year though), a yearling and a 10yr old, severely obese gelding.  The gelding she said she rode maybe 4 times the year before and wanted to get him back in shape.  He was on 24x7 turnout but said he was ok in a stall when she would put him in one when the farrier came.

She brought the gelding, I will call him C, over and I had problems with him from the first day.  The first night he was here he charged me when I went to clean out a pee spot he had left in front of his gate and he would have succeeded in running over me and perhaps through the gate if I hadn't broke a stall fork on his neck.  The next morning he completely flipped out when I tried to turn the donkey out and tried to jump the stall gate.  I tried shutting his door and he slammed himself into the walls and door so I just turned him out first.  He ran around screaming his head off until I brought everyone else out. 

He has zero respect for space or my bubble and has no problem running into you.  I have done some groundwork with him and while he is okay most of the time, he has still ran into me about a dozen times, knocked me to the ground  a few times and just plain won't move unless you hit him really hard.  Every single day when I would bring in or out he would "spook" at something either on the way in or out.  Eventually I started smacking him in his nose every time he would spook to try to keep him from spooking into me (which happened three times). 

He would totally flip out in his stall if there wasn't a horse directly next to him, he tried really, really hard to put his front legs over top of my 10 foot stall wall and almost succeeded once because I saw his hooves when I smacked his nose with a whip.  I was never able to ride both of my horses at the same time without him, we tried three times.  The second and third time I made his owner be here so she could see his behavior because she insisted he didn't act like that.  He dug through my limestone base in the stall twice, has knocked a support beam so that it is currently crooked and broke 2 door latches as he threw himself against the door because we were trying to leave with my horses.  He is just as bad in the pasture if he isn't brought in first, with someone else of course.  He tried running through my electric fence until he hit it and realized I have it running about 12,000 volts (big charger, little fence), he didn't ever try a second time.

This past Friday I was turning out and I had the App and C (since I can't turn him out alone or leave him in alone).  C "spooked" at the poo box that lives in the barn, that he walks in front of at least twice a day.  I got after him and kept going and he "spooked" again, this time he didn't bump me and bounce off me, he literally ran me over and then drug me 10 feet when I refused to let go of the lead rope.  I suspect I have torn the cartilage in my knee again, pretty badly too.  I have a MRI on July 2nd and will see if it will require surgery, I am pretty certain it will.  I called his owner that day and told her it wasn't working out, he keeps hurting me and he had to go home. 

When she came over on Sunday, he loaded into my trailer fine but was making a huge ruckus and was shaking the entire trailer.  Finally it stopped so we brought him home.  Turns out he had put his foot in my hay net that was hanging about 4 feet off of the ground.  His forearm was well above horizontal, to give an idea how high he would have been pawing to do this.  RB4 made the comment this is why she doesn't haul with hay nets, went in in and tried to take his leg out and couldn't.  I, stupidly, hobbled in (on my crutch) to see the situation as RB4 decided to get a pair of scissors.  As she hopped out, C made a renewed effort to free himself, rearing up, slamming the trailer walls and finally ripping the tie ring out of my trailer.  He pinned me against the wall and stepped on my foot before I was able to duck out.  Her comment to me?  "You just couldn't wait a moment could you".   I hadn't done a thing except stand there.  She unloaded him and just kept commenting about now he is with his friends and hopefully his bad behavior will go away since she never had a problem with him there.  We hung around for about 15 mins and left.  Even at the end she didn't see how his behavior was an issue and didn't even recognize that he did nice damage to my trailer.  Ugh.

I really don't know if she will remain friends with me.  She was very offended that I kicked C out as she doesn't see his behavior to be a problem.  She did say to keep in touch and let her know when I start riding again so I certainly will, hopefully we can salvage the relationship and she doesn't stay offended that I can't stand her horse.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Final Straw

The horse in training has been for sale for about a month now and I ride him about twice a week.  He finally had someone come out to look at him last night and it went well, the gal seemed to like him and he listened pretty well.  I even brought her through my tiny trail in the back of the property where the pasture will go and he did great.  She is going to come back out with her trainer perhaps this weekend, things were looking up. 

This morning started out like any other, I fed, filled hay nets and I brought the the donkey and the TWH out to the pasture.  I came back in and got the App and the training horse and we went outside.  The training horse spooked a little at the poo box, fairly typical for him but he got over it and we continued to the pasture.  He then spooked at the water trough-turned-veggie garden, something he also spooks at regularly despite multiple desensitization sessions, and ran into me.  Again.  He has done it a couple of times in the past however this time was different.  Instead of bouncing off of me after slamming into me, he kept going, stepped on my foot and drug me almost 10 feet as he continued to try to get away from me.  As I fell down I lost the App, who trotted off to eat grass, and I felt immediate intense pain in my knee. 

I lay on the ground for about 60 seconds, with a death grip on the training horses rope, before finally being able to get up.  My right leg was virtually unusable and I was almost non-weight bearing.  I slowly hobbled and put the horse in the pasture with no further incidents and tried calling for the App.  He continued to graze and when I hobbled sort of close he ran around the pasture fence and then went all the way to the back side of the pasture.  Ugh!  Being that there was absolutely no way I could hobble fast enough to catch him and SO is out of town, I called the neighbors and asked them to help me catch him.  As I walked/hobbled back to the barn to grab a bucket of grain, my leg rolled a little bit and I felt a satisfactory click as, what I assume to be anyway, my knee went back into it's socket.  I could immediately walk better, figuratively speaking, and could easily bear weight on it.  Wahoo!

I grabbed grain and called for the App with no success.  When I finally hobbled over to the far side of the pasture fence, about 200 feet from the barn, I whistled again and the App turned and literally galloped over to me!!!  I was SOO proud of my horse in that he didn't make me and the neighbors fight to catch him for a half hour or so.  I called the neighbors back to let them know but the husband was already on his way over.

I had a short chat with the neighbors and explained what happened.  They offered to take me to the ER but I refused, I am hoping the swelling and pain is from the knee popping back.  I currently am on my crutches and have my compression brace on, I will see how things go.  After I got everyone secure I called RB4, the training horses' owner.  Unfortunately she is in Florida for a family emergency and while I am sure she doesn't need this stress, I couldn't postpone the call.  I told her what happened and that I can't have her horse stay here anymore.  He has hurt me several times and if he had just bounced off of me like he had before it would be one thing but he trampled me and then drug me, it isn't safe for me to have him here.

The training horse will stay here until Sunday when she returns.  I will refund his board and training costs and will trailer him back for free if the people on Sunday don't purchase him first.  Hopefully they show up with a trailer and just take him.  Until Sunday he will stay in the pasture 24x7 so I don't have to handle him as I can't risk being hurt yet again.  I feel really bad about kicking him out and I told her I hope she doesn't take it personally, I am just getting hurt by him and I can't afford to risk it.  Hopefully my knee isn't seriously hurt and I can get back to normal, if nothing else I was supposed to go to a show this weekend and don't want to have to cancel.  Healing from all of 2012's SNAFU's fail.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Learning to canter all over again

Busy, busy, busy, that about sums up my life.  I am always on-the-go for one reason or another.  This weekend's successes, however, include cleaning and refilling all 3 water troughs, tightening the Electrobraid (which has been on my to-do list for about a year) and riding horses.  The TWH was the subject of my torment for the first ride, we tentatively have a show on Sunday and I need him to be able to canter halfway decently in order to be successful.  I had hoped to have more canter rides under his belt by this time in the month but alas the days flew by without my being able to do what I should have.

The TWH is getting much better in his trotting, he is almost back to normal.  For me anyway, anyone else requires significant more effort.  I am pretty happy with where he is trot wise and think it will be enough for the show I will be going to.  His canter, however, still requires work.  We cantered for the first time a week or so ago and while he was excellent about picking up the canter and correct lead immediately, the quality of the canter left a lot to be desired.  It was unbalanced, fast and super pacey with almost a good 2 beat instead of a nice 3 beat gait.  His down transition has also suffered greatly with him pacing for almost a quarter circle before picking up the trot. 

His other direction wasn't much better with the transition or balance but at least going to the left he finally gave me a good three beat canter.  I will give him credit, he was trying and he did remember what to do.  He didn't wait for me to get after him, he picked up his canter right away and gave a down transition right away.  He even kept the ability to steer even though he kept dropping his inside shoulder and leaning on a circle.  All things considered I am pretty happy with his progress.  When RB4 rode him yesterday she was getting frustrated with him, I had to remind her that he has only cantered a few times over the past 3 months and she needed to be patient as he wasn't going to be perfect.  It is really cool to have someone expect your horse to do what they should because they have been trained to do so but as a result she kept forgetting that the TWH needs a little more leeway right now.  He isn't going to be collected, he isn't going to be completely balanced, he is going to drop his shoulder and he will pace when you come out of the canter.  I have work to do!

In other news I rode the horse in training and though he tried to run me into the wall a few times, I successfully rode and didn't get hurt.  Riding in spurs was not sufficient and I had to also ride with a whip to get him to move off of my legs and to not randomly stop but in the end we had made progress and I was even able to get him to pick up his almost nonexistent left lead 3 separate times.  He has no balance on his left lead and is horribly fast with little steering but at least I finally got him to pick up it up.  I am showing him to people on Wednesday so hopefully the love him and will buy him.  Sadly I will be glad to see him go, I don't mesh with him and I just can't trust him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wonderful trail ride and TACK SPLURGE!

On Saturday I was reminded it was Helmet Awareness Day.  I have had my trusty Tipperary for about 4 or 5 years now and I really love it, it is comfortable, has nice ventilation and not heavy.  It is so much more better than the Troxels I have had and is in the same price range as Troxels.  While I would love to be able to spend $150-$300 on a beautiful helmet that would immediately make me ride better and look awesome, I can't drop that kind of change on a helmet so I stick with my cheaper, under $100 helmets.  My current helmet is set to expire later this year and I had every intention of buying a new one at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in October but then I got an email from Smartpak, they were offering up to 20% off a new helmet.  I thought about it, took a quick peek at the checkbook and typed as fast as my fingers could fly.

I ended up getting an updated version of my current helmet, a Tipperary Sportage, and I got it on sale with free shipping.  Score!  As I am set up as a barn so I always get free shipping, my order won't be here until Monday but that is still pretty good IMO.  While I was getting ready to hit the Checkout button I just couldn't help myself and ordered some Uncle Jimmy's Licky Things as well, if I will treat myself I might as well treat the boys too right?  While I love the Hanging Balls, the boys make such a mess on their faces so a Licky Thing will have to suffice.  I don't think I will hear complaints from them lol. 

On Sunday I took the App and picked up RB3's new horse and we went trail riding at a state park not far from here.  I have been to 2 other parks so far this year and while this one is much smaller, I really liked this one the best.  The entire area was clean, the trails were maintained and they had trail maps at most trail intersections.  It was nicely wooded with only a few fields and had some really nice hills with lots of mature trees. I had a lot of fun and the App was fantastic, no one would have known he could be a monster with a firecracker and a pogostick with how he was acting.  He jumped over a couple of logs and I let him gallop up some of the big hills, he came back to me each time and it was great.

I am looking forward to riding the TWH tonight and to start cantering him, this will be his first time cantering under saddle since he came up lame way back in March/April.  Hopefully by July I will be able to ride in my jumping saddle and will start jumping him again.  This whole torn muscle thing has caused my show routine and jumping practice to suffer and I am ready to get back to it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I think he is trying to kill me

The horse in training really has it in for me, I really can't wait for someone to come and buy him.  I am starting to be afraid I am going to be seriously hurt again with just handling him let alone riding him, if we can just stick it out for another week or two...  On Wednesday when I brought him in he spooked at one of the barn cats who walked beside him (I mean really horse?).  A spook would be fine and all except he jumped into me, I almost fell to the ground and would have if I hadn't held onto the lead rope and he almost got loose in the process of me being knocked around.  Not good.  Yesterday my arm was a little sore but nothing that slowed me down.  When I brought him out the morning I put a chain on him and he behaved.  When I went to bring him in, luckily I was still in the arena because he hit the chain and reared several times, almost falling down at one point, and was able to slip his halter and run off.  Needless to say I left him for a half hour until he decided to be caught again.  I tightened his halter up as tight as it goes and he walked in without any incidents.

Tonight I rode him and he was being really good.  Really, really good in fact.  He was moving off of my leg, he wasn't stopping randomly and he was accepting contact.  I was able to get him to do some half passes and some haunches in and he was looking and feeling really nice.  Since my task is to tackle his canter, about 20 mins into the ride I asked for the almost non-existent left lead canter.  I had to fight for it several times, through some small kicks and a small buck until I finally got it.  I had him in a 20m circle and then let him go around the entire arena as he was so unbalanced and on the forehand, I just wanted him to go forward without fighting for a little bit.  As we came around the end of the arena and he flipped his lead.  I asked for the correct lead again and he switched (yay!) and then switched back (boo!) and then shucked and dove out of the arena as the arena door to the pasture was still open.  He seemed to do it will full intention of scraping me off of him as he appeared to have jumped towards the door and knocked my kneecap directly into the door at full force.  RB4 said it happened so fast, one second I was in the arena and the next I gone.  I felt my right leg go back as he zoomed outside and while RB4 was convinced I had come off, I stayed on him.

My knee hurt but not THAT bad so I had RB4 pass me the dropped whip and, after having the door shut, made him work really hard.  The left lead is still almost impossible to get and even harder to keep but we got it twice so I worked on his super easy right lead and called it a night.  My knee is swollen and tender, I don't think anything is broken but I am pretty sure I will have an impressive bruise.  This horse is reminding me of when I started working with the TWH with my getting hurt or falling off on a regular basis.  I need better luck, anyone want a pretty to look at gruella paint gelding?  No?  Well I guess we will see how I feel in the morning then and do it all over again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gravity helps the dismount

Last night I rode the boarding horse as I am working him in partial training, he is currently for sale and the owner wants him brushed up on skills so he can be seen as best he can be.  He has some problems, a pretty bad contact avoidance problem, a real touchy 'stop' button, no standing still while mounting or dismounting and a randomly spooky problem.  To fix the avoidance problem I have been riding him in draw reins so that no matter where he puts his head I can keep contact.  It has really helped and while the first ride with them he was a very, very peeved pony, this ride he was 80% better about keeping contact and I didn't have contact on the draw reins most of the ride.

His 'stop' button is really touchy as well, if you even think stop, and sometimes not even then, he will slam on his brakes like he was a reining horse doing a sliding stop.  On the plus side he is very balanced when he does it, on the other side he does it All. The. Time.  He is slowly starting to get better due to being smacked with the whip whenever he decides to stop without being asked.  We started where I would immediately ask him to continue but after several dozen times if he stops now he gets a solid whack.  There is only so many times I am willing to overlook this kind of disobedience as anything but a big middle finger.

His randomly spooky button is the reason he is for sale, his owner wanted him as a solid, safe trail horse and he just can't be trusted for that job.  He is extremely looky at everything and I mean everything.  He gets turned out in the arena every day, as the arena is used as part of my pasture, but he will always spook at something in the arena when you ride him.  When I bring him in or out from the pasture, he goes this route twice a day, he will always, every single time, spook at something we walk past.  When on the ground the spooks aren't too bad, he runs/jumps sideways (sometimes into you), he will go backwards, he will stop and then back up but under saddle he takes it to a whole new level.  When his owner fell off last week, he was about 80 feet away from a barrel that a cat was sitting on.  The cat jumped down, he took the opportunity to 'spook' and went backwards and then sideways and then jumped sideways until the owner fell off.  He then didn't run around/away from the cat, he meandered over to some hay on the ground and took a nibble.  He is just looking for a reason to spook as there was absolutely no reason for that kind of reaction IMO.

My ride last night went pretty well, no huge fights like I was given on the first ride.  He is starting to move off of the leg and is doing better about going forward when I ask and not 3 or 4 times later.  I started the ride by helping him realize he had to stand still while being mounted and it took him a good while to figure it out.  I would say it took at good 20 mins of showing him that standing was the best option before he finally stood still.  I kept telling him "Rest is the reward" but he wasn't believing me.

We finished by working on standing while dismounting, another big issue for him.  I threw my leg over the saddle and stood in the stirrups, he moved, I got back in the saddle, worked him for a few moments and tried again.  I threw my leg over the saddle and stood there.  He stood there for about 3 seconds before he decided to 'spook' and went forward.  I tried really hard to get back in the saddle but he then went sideways.  I grabbed the saddle and fought to get seated and then (from eyewitness account anyway) he jumped sideways and down I went.  Stupid gravity.  That was the first time since April or May of 09 that I have hit the ground, that one was thanks to our Sinatra.  I immediately got up, grabbed the horse, beat his fuzzy little butt, got back on and made him WORK.  After about 15 mins of hard work I let him rest for a moment and tried dismounting again.  He moved so he got worked again really hard for a few more minutes and I tried again.  He moved again, he got worked again and then he decided it was easier to stand still while I hung off of him.  I finally hopped down, brought him to the mounting block and got on and off twice without him moving and called it a night.

I am disappointed in falling off but, as RB3 and RB4 were there, my eyewitnesses say since I wasn't actually ON the horse so I can't count it as falling off lol.  Luckily there isn't anything broken and I only see a small bruise on my elbow.  My hip is a little sore this AM but that is all.  If nothing else I guess I can no longer say I only fall off of white horses.  HA!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Almost Perfect Day

The original plan was to have this entire week off of work and to get things done around the farm and to spend time with the SO.  Plans changed when he made a last minute decision to spend more than half of the vacation off playing with cars in another state.  Faced with being alone for vacation plus being alone next week when he is out of town, I decided to work Wednesday and Friday so at least I wouldn't be bored out of my mind.  As a result, yesterday was my play day!

I drug myself out of bed at the normal time of 6am and went with RB3 and her friend yard saleing.  It has been a long time since I have been yard saleing and had a good time.  I got some really good buys, some dishes for the dogs, new water bowl for the dogs, a Columbia jacket in excellent condition for only $5 and a pair of mud boots for me to wear out.  Score!

I got home just in time to grab the TWH and have him groomed when RB3, her friend and another friend arrived with their horses to go on a trail ride.  There is a Rails-to-Trails trail less than a mile from my house that everyone had wanted to ride so we picked the trail up and had a great time.  The weather was perfect, mid 60's, very little wind, very few bugs, slightly overcast and we didn't meet anyone else on the trail.  The TWH was perfect, being ridden on the buckle most of the ride.  He did a nice flat walk/running walk when asked and was able to maintain that gait even when everyone else was trotting. He trotted out nicely when everyone wanted to really move out and didn't even offer to pace.  He didn't spook when we went under the interstate (4 different times too) and while he was very nervous, he didn't spook when we went through the concrete tunnel that had railroad tracks overhead.

We rode for a little over an hour and a half before needing to turn back so one of the gals could leave by 530p.  It worked out well as just as we arrived at my house it was just starting to sprinkle and about a half hour later it was raining so everything was timed perfectly. As we turned back, however, RB3 asked to switch horses.  She has just purchased a new halflinger to replace Kota and wanted me to "try her out" and let her know what I thought of the new horse.  She is a pretty horse, blind in her left eye and is pretty dead to aids from being used as a kids horse.  She doesn't steer well, doesn't know leg aids and has an obsession with riding *just* off the trail.  She is also much slower and stayed at the very back, sometimes way back, the entire ride.  I had to keep her in a trot most of the ride which wouldn't have been too bad but I wasn't what I had planned on.  Her saddle is also quite uncomfortable for me, it has a very flat, square seat with little padding and I have actual bruises on my seat bones as of this morning.

At one point I asked if she wanted to trade back so she could have her horse and she said "You really want to trade back?", looked at me and walked the TWH off.  A little later I mentioned it again and she said "But I like Natra".  I thought "Well, yeah but I like him too which is why I rode him".  I ended up riding the halflinger the entire ride back and didn't really enjoy the ride back.  RB3 lead the way and let the TWH gait most of the ride so everyone was trotting which meant I was having to make the halflinger really move to keep up.  At one point I yelled out that the walking horse should walk for a while and RB3 laughed and slowed down, but only for about 5 mins before letting him go again.  I was very frustrated and annoyed and to top it off, when we got back, RB3 grabbed a huge handful of my treats and gave them to everyone but the TWH.  She did this without even asking.  Normally it wouldn't bother me, as I encourage treats when a horse is good but it just really rubbed me the wrong way.

After everyone left and I was cleaning stalls, RB4 called and she invited me over for dinner so I had dinner with her and her husband. It was a really nice way to end the day, hanging out with a friend and some food.  When I got home I brought the horses in, fed everyone and went straight to bed.  Since it was in the 50's outside I turned on my heated mattress pad and slept so heavily that when my alarm went off, I didn't realize it and the dream I was having had me saying how warm and tired I was.  Ha!