Deciding what's best for your horse...*possible rant incoming* - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Deciding what's best for your horse...*possible rant incoming*

So, as many of you know, Lacey and I are currently fostering a mare, Lady, for a local horse rescue.

Lady is becoming more and more of a problem due to my ineptness with a horse that knows nothing (I agreed to foster her thinking she knew more than she does) and due to her own weirdness (she was orphaned as a baby+therefore is a little "off" - not in a bad way, just different). Mostly it's due to me not knowing what I'm doing.
Basically, a quote from one of Clinton Anderson's books comes to mind: "Where knowledge ends, frustration begins."

I can handle Lady ok on a daily basis but trying to do more beyond the basic feeding, brushing, leading, is asking for trouble.
I can and do pony her off Lacey but that's becoming more of an issue due to Lacey's behavior (she waits until I'm facing away, then tries to bite Lady - I correct her but it's often a second too late, as well as Lacey seeming to think of us as some sort of "unit" and is kinda treating Lady like an imposter to that unit). Granted, Lacey only corrects Lady when Lady has broken a "rule" that Lacey knows, but I need to be the one enforcing rules, not Lacey.

Then, yesterday a BIG problem cropped up: I took Lacey on a ride, just the two of us, and when we came back, Lady had gone through every fence that isn't covered in blackberry bushes/high tensile wire. She wasn't injured, thank goodness, and every possible way out of the pasture is wooden fencing/metal gate so she did not escape but she did a lot of damage to the fencing I've put up to block off pastures/make "stalls", etc. I know it wouldn't be an issue if the fence was electrified but Lacey (due to her sight issues) can't be behind an electric fence because she gets panicky (knows it's there but isn't sure how close she is to it - solution: panic!).

I NEED to be able to ride Lacey alone and Lacey really enjoys our time, just the two of us. It's not an option to just take Lady on every ride, Lacey and I both need a break of Lady's special brand of "nutso" every once in a while.

Anyway, I've contacted the rescue, Lady's "owners", about this and they've offered to come pick her up later this week if that's what I want. And, well, I don't know.
I like that Lacey had a buddy and I've grown quite fond of Lady.
However, I really don't like anything else about this. I don't like that I know I'm not doing the best by Lady because I've started just ignoring her since I know that I'll just get frustrated with her when her being weird/nuts is not her fault.
I don't like how Lacey treats Lady when I'm leading them both down to the trails. I don't like how Lady is when we leave her behind. And I CERTAINLY don't like fixing a multitude of fences because Captain PANIC decided she didn't like them impeding her panicking space...

And then there's the whole thing with Lacey's eyes. I'm finding that in the face of her most recent ERU episode, I just don't have the energy to care properly for/be patient with her AND be patient/understanding with Lady. I'm beginning to feel like if Lacey has a buddy, it needs to be a Steady Eddy/Reliable Joe-type. Something that doesn't need me to fuss over/work with him/her constantly and who can deal with it if my attentions need to be really focused on Lacey for a time.

I have a couple of options: continue to work with Lady and hope that she'll majikally come around, send Lady away and go back to it just being me and Lacey, or, the rescue has a laid back gelding with "fantastic" ground manners who's unrideable due to some mental stuff that they would like to send to me as a longterm foster.

If we go back to just me and Lacey, I'm going to approach my neighbor's (the property owners) about figuring out a way for the llamas to join Lacey. That may be not possible, but hopefully I can sweet talk them into it. haha

The gelding, supposedly he's great. Been to two trainers, apparently rides fine for a while then bolts out of nowhere+doesn't stop until his rider is gone. I don't need to own a pasture pet like that but a longterm foster? I could probably handle that.
The only caveat is that Lacey, upon occasion, gets unreasonably attached to geldings. She just falls in "love" and cannot handle any sort of seperation from them. That's basically why I've tried to keep our situation male animal free, as a general rule. There are some geldings that she does really well with, just the majority bring out the worst in her.

I just can't decide what would be best for Lacey at this point. When Lacey, Lady, and I are all together, Lacey acts like she hates Lady. I correct her for "mean" behavior (snaking her neck, pinned ears, biting the air near Lady) but that doesn't change how much she acts like she can't stand me giving both of them attention. After I correct her, she'll stand there with her ears partially pinned like "Fine. But I'm NOT happy" and this is a horse with perpetually perky, happy, ears.
She's so relaxed when I take her on a trail ride, just the two of us, and much more "tightly wound" when we bring Lady.
It's almost like Lady is a source of stress for Lacey - understandably, I guess, since Lacey is "the boss" but can't see well and knows she can't see well, therefore "failing" as a leader - and I don't know what to do to make it better.
However, when I watch Lady and Lacey together in the pasture, they seem to be ok with/possibly enjoy each other's company. Lacey follows Lady everywhere, Lady does a good job of leading. On the other hand, I often find each mare grazing in opposite pastures, without a worry to where their friend is...

Gah. Why can't Lacey just talk to me and tell me what she'd like best? Darn horse. Now is your time to speak like a Narnia horse, NOW!
I really like Lady but my duty is to Lacey so I need to make Lacey the priority here, not the horse I want to help.

Any thoughts? *cookies if you read all that*

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 08-08-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 04:52 PM
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hahaha i see you are in rock and a hard place :(

what exactly does lady do that makes her so frustrating?? as in what stuff are you working on when she freaks, and what does she do when she freaks?

and if lacey is the one correcting her i think she is showing you you are not boss. in order to work them both together lacey needs to know for sure you are the boss and will handle all discplining for both of the horses. how do you do that?? well i am not sure lol. cherie or someone else more knowledgable can try to help.

but if you dont want to be bothered with lady's antics see if you can get a different rescue horse not the gelding since lacey is a lovestruck kind :P but they are bound to have another mare you can foster.

good luck in your decision :)
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 05:07 PM
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when you ride Lacey alone does Lady have a buddy to stay with?
or is she exhibiting herd behavior & trying desperately to stay with her herd?

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post #4 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 05:09 PM
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That's a tough one. To be honest, I don't think I'd put up with that from a foster. If she was truly yours to have to fix, different story. I'd have concern about the gelding since Lacey falls in love easily, it might be tough on her should they have to be separated eventually. That sweet old girl has enough of her own baggage (for lack of a better word) to deal with without having to worry about her becoming distraught over another horse. I think the best plan is to sweet talk the neighbors about the llamas since you already know that is something that works for Lacey. Good luck in whatever you decide.
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks kait!

Basically, with Lady, it's a matter of what she doesn't do/will do that's the trouble. It's a bit hard to describe but there are little things, like getting OUT of my space when I'm walking past/turning on the forehand when I ask her to face me/consistently staying out of my space no matter what that I just have not been able to make much headway with her at all about. She's better than she was when she first got here, about 2 months ago, but most of the time she just has no concept of what's expected of her. Like, I'll go walking past and ask her to move but she'll just lock herself up and throw her head in the air, in a scared way, but not move an inch. I have to physically FORCE her to move. No amount of "mental" pressure will make her move in those situations.
For instance, when I lead her and Lacey out of the gate together. Lacey goes first because she's led on the side closest to the gate opening. Lady is supposed to back up and make room for the gate, then I lead her out. What does she do? Oh, just lets the gate swing into her and then tries to bolt past me because "OMG, that gate tried to eat me!!". I've tried working with her repeatedly on it and she's stopped regularly bolting but she still won't back up away from the gate. If I want her to give the gate space, I have to physically make her give the gate space.

Basically, it's stuff that all my "tricks" have failed to change and I'm at a loss as to how to get through to her. And it's not like I haven't worked with plenty of horses, for the last 6 summers I've spent my summers caring for/training/being in charge of a herd of 13 horses - 70% different horses each summer. In that time I've met some nutty horses but I've always been able to make them nice to work with. Lady is nothing like any of those horses though. She's a complete enigma to me. She's happy Miss Sunshine one second, and Miss Ima KillU the next.

I've tried to teach her how to turn on the forehand but that just ended in us standing no less than 3 inches apart because apparently, poking in/wavig things at the patootie means "jump in the human's lap!".
I'm just not skilled enough, at this point, to deal with that. And since I'm not her owner, nor do I profess to be a trainer of any kind, I figure it's probably best for me to realize my own lack of knowledge and stop what I'm doing before I make her worse, you know?

Lacey-wise, I'd be inclined to say the same thing. However, she's, what I think of as, totally respectful of me at all times. If I "command" her to stay somewhere, she'll stay there until I release her. She's not pushy about food, if I tell her to stop a behavior, she STOPS. I can ride her out alone, remove her from her buddies, with no issues. If I'm working with her, any buddies she has don't matter. She isn't barnsour/herdbound, even when we go out alone, she's happy to go for however long. She doesn't even speed up towards home, unless I ask her. I can easily go towards home, then turn her away without any issue...
Of course, if I work with her in a dominating sort of state of mind, she doesn't do well with that, that's when we have "fights" - so, on that front I'd be inclined to agree with you. However, on the other hand, with her failing eyesight, trust and partnership have been priorities. Above everything else, I need her to trust me that I'm going to take care of her...but I don't know how that affects my stance as "the big Kahouna", as it were...

I dunno. I'm feeling out of sorts today. haha

ETA: eclisperanch, Lady doesn't have a buddy when we go out alone. They share a fence with 2 llamas but the llamas basically keep to themselves. I know she's just exhibiting natural her behavior, but she also needs to respect the fences, yknow? I wouldn't mind if she were just running around calling, that's totally 100% fine, but going through fences is the REAL straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak...

That is very true MHF...good thoughts. :) That's pretty much what i was thinking. If I literally owned Lady, it would be an issue of "my horse, my problem" but since I don't own her...
I'll see what the neighbor's say this evening. The worst they can say is no, right? Well, kick me off their property but I don't think that'll happen anytime soon!
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Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 08-08-2012 at 05:26 PM.
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 06:17 PM
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Honestly, from the outside looking in, the answer is pretty easy to see in my opinion.

98% of the information you just gave us is talking about how bad things are with a little snippit here and there about the good (which wasn't even 'really' good). This says a lot.

Not to make us sound like twinsies or anything on all of these threads, but where you're at with Lady, sounds exactly like where I was with Deja.

She was such trouble that I couldn't deal with that I just started ignoring her as much as possible. It wasn't good for either of us. I found her a good home where she is well taken care of and happy. That was the best thing I could offer her as I did not have money for training on Mana and her.

My rule of thumb is that my animals get to stay with me as long as it is best for them. Being with me was no longer the best situation for Deja in the long run.

I still feel like if I could have learned what I know now, back then, then everything would have been great and perfect, but even if I got her back now, I don't know that I wouldn't still resent her a bit (and her, me, maybe.).

ETA: Funny thing, the day I finally decieded to find her a new home no matter what, was the day she refused to be haltered and bent a gate trying to jump it.

Proud owner of ~Mana: 6yo Arabian gelding~Pearl 13yo Arabian~Danzer 14yo Arabian mare~ Tiny mini filly

Last edited by grayshell38; 08-08-2012 at 06:20 PM.
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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Hah, Megan, stop being my twinsie already! Nah, I like that you totally get it. :)
Actually on the other thread, you were really the one that helped me realize that what's going on with Lacey's eyes isn't nothing (though I want it so badly to be "nothing") and that it's perfectly, 100%, reasonable for me to have difficulty managing that AND a project horse who I don't really "get". And that it's perfectly ok to be having difficulty, no shame.
I had previously been trying to look at with a "got us into this, gotta get us out in the perfectly right way" mindset but doing that is perhaps not the best thing for Lacey and I.

And I was thinking, about the llama thing, there is a way that a section of fencing seperating the llamas/Lacey's old field from Lacey/the new field could be pretty easily redone so that the llamas could go back and forth, Lacey could go back and forth, AND it'd be easy to get the llamas back "home" if needed (seems to be a major concern of the nieghbors, don't really blame them though - "Hey guys, let's set your wild llamas free on 6+ acres! Sounds GREAT right??"). So maybe that could work. I'll just have to figure out how to explain it in a way they can understand...

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 08-08-2012 at 06:34 PM.
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 08:41 PM
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It sounds like Lady may not be the right fit.
Too bad you don’t live here… with feed and hay being so high and the economy so low, people have been giving away minis, donkeys, ponies, retired show horses and just about everything in between for a couple of years now.

Perhaps a little pony buddy? She can be a warm equine body for Lacey when she needs it, but is independent enough to not be a burden when she and you don‘t.
Pony’s job could be to provide the security of a “herd” yet is retired and doesn’t need training, other than how Not to take the fingers when diving for an apple in the hand.

When Lacey’s sight deems necessary, pony can wear a bell so Lacey can follow her moment and know where she is with her ears.
No real stress to you, as in you are not responsible for training, rehab, or anything special and pony can live out her days being doted on as the cute pony she is because she needs a good home too.

And of course you may have already spelled out in another thread how a pony won’t be a good fit and being that I’m always a day late and a dollar short (especially lately)...… I missed it. If so, please disregard.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 08:46 PM
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It took me a few moments to get the whole Lacey/Lady thing down. Very similar names. Bahaha.

Well, if I were you, I would probably look into fostering another horse in replacement of Lacey. You know that she will be going to another foster place (well, do you? Because that is always peace of mind) and if you feel like you are just getting overwhelmed (not that you are being lazy about it, but if it just seems like a lot) then it might be better to take a step back and do what is best for Lacey. Since you own her, that should be your first priority.

I would take the whole attachment thing into consideration. But is there a chance that maybe Lacey only acted so attached to certain horses? Perhaps this gelding would be different, or maybe there is another mare you could foster that they would get along with.

Ultimately, if you give Lady up and realize you will feel guilty for the rest of your life and think about it all the time, probably not the best decision. You have to go with what 1) is best for everyone involved and 2) with what will make you all happy (yes, that includes YOU!).

So either way, there are pros and cons. But maybe you could just try forgetting about the logistics of things for a few moments and think about what I just said up there.

God bless, englishaqh (:
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post #10 of 15 Old 08-08-2012, 08:55 PM
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I think maybe a goat or a mini donkey or reg. donk would be a better pasture buddy. You wont' be living there in the modestly near future. You are likely to move on and out sometime relatively soon. Lacey is old and may not be with you a long time now. a goat or donkey will be easier to rehome if you need to be horseless for some time in the future.
Sounds like such harsh thinking there. I am pretty much a pragmatist.

Did you ever find out if Lady is preggers?
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