Does anyone else feel like raising a horse is an emotional burden? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Does anyone else feel like raising a horse is an emotional burden?

Well, I really need to stop spending so much time here. But I really need someone to talk to.

Does anyone else feel like raising a horse from birth is an emotional burden? Like everything rises and falls on how well I can get my young horse trained? And what if I fail?

If I go out and buy a horse and he's less that perfect, I can work towards what I want him to be. I can always blame it on his past and work towards his future.

But now, raising my first-ever foal from birth, I feel this emotional weight on my shoulders. Because if I don't succeed in turning him into a good horse he has no future. And that's a lot of weight to carry around, you know?

I want nothing more than to keep him and have him be my trail partner for life. And he's not a horrible youngster. He's not aggressive or anything. But he's not perfect either. And I am afraid that at some point I will have to give up on him and then what? Send him out into an uncertain future? I don't want to give him up and wonder what happened to him. If he ended up at slaughter I couldn't forgive myself. That somehow I "ruined" him and he died because of me. So then what? Euthanize him? I don't know if I could live with that either. Keep him as a pet for the next 30 years (and perhaps give up on riding altogether?) He was supposed to be my young horse, the one I could have and ride for the next 20 years.

I plan on "riding this out" so-to-speak until he is old enough to send to a trainer for saddle breaking. I am prepared to put around 3 months of saddle training on him. I just don't know if I can make it emotionally until then. Like I would like to be able to lead him and not have him get ahead of me, or ignore me, or nip at me. And I would like to be able to pony him out off another horse so he can get some exercise. I CAN do this, but it doesn't make for a relaxing ride. He is always trying to chew on my tack, drags behind, etc. Once when he was about 6 months old he climbed up the back of the horse I was riding. Ponying has caused me stress ever since.

So I dunno. I am going to play the game out to see how it ends up. You never know, he might mature mentally and if I stick at it he might turn into a good horse. But I am so afraid I will fail and have to give him up. There are no easy answers. I just pray I can get him saddle broke. If I can send him to a trainer and get him saddle broke and he doesn't rear, buck, or bolt I think it will be okay. I am a much better rider than I am at ground work.

I worry EVERY DAY about this. It is almost too much of a burden to bear. If I bought a horse, he is what he is. But this horse's future rests with me. It's almost too much responsibility for me emotionally to handle. So many people on here seem to have "perfect" colts. They never challenge them. Never nip, aren't rowdy being led. I feel like a lion tamer always carrying around a whip. I cry almost every day about wondering about his future.
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post #2 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 08:19 PM
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Take a deep breath and relax. It's definitely an undertaking to take a baby to an adult. Some are easy peasey, others not so much. My colt - willing puppy dog no matter what I ask. My filly - tests her limits with every new thing we do.

I used to get feeling the same way you feel now. The first one that I was responsible for I stressed over big time. I had the pressure of doing it right from myself but that didn't come close to comparing how well I wanted to do for my grandfather who gave me that filly. It was all worth it in the end, that filly will be 23 this year and still graces my pasture :)

Life is like a camera. Focus on what's important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives and if things don't work out, Take another shot.
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post #3 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you MHFoundation Quarters.

I know you guys must get sick of hearing about my my foal. It's not like he's mean. He's not. It's just like he thinks everything is a game or life is one big joke. I think things are life-and-death. He thinks I am there for his entertainment.

I wonder if imprinting him was wrong. He has no fear of me. Unless I have a whip in my hand. Sometimes I wish he would move out of my space just because I am asking him to, not because I am carrying a whip, you know? Sometimes he will, when there is food envolved or the mood strikes him right. But other times he will just look at me when I smooch for him to back. And then I have to smack him with the whip. And then I feel bad. And then he does good for a time or two but the next day we have to start all over again.

I don't know if it's a lack of respect or just normal baby stuff. But he should move out of my space without me having to resort to the whip, right?
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post #4 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 08:38 PM
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Emotional burden? No? Financial burden, responsibility burden, time burden, etc, etc....? Big yes. If something I have chosen to own for recreation, burdens me emotionally, I probably won't own it. Just me though, I am pragmatic.
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post #5 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
I don't know if it's a lack of respect or just normal baby stuff. But he should move out of my space without me having to resort to the whip, right?
Probably a bit of both. Yes, he should move out of your space without the whip. Sounds like he's too in your business when he should be minding his He needs to learn boundaries and you do whatever it takes to keep him out of your space. Decide what your personal bubble is and don't let him in it. Stomp your feet, shake your rope, flag your arms, drive him back and/or away every time he invades. The most important thing is being consistent, when they get away with it once they will try again and generally become more daring about it.

Life is like a camera. Focus on what's important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives and if things don't work out, Take another shot.
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post #6 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 09:12 PM
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When you do smack him to get him to respect your space, how does he move off? Energetically, with purpose? Or king of slowly, grudgingly? If it's the latter, I would up the pressure until he's really MOVING away like he knows you mean it and he's respecting that. Otherwise he's sort of listening, but still tossing you some baby-pony-tude, and you're never going to get any respect for your more 'polite' requests for him to back off.

Your youngster sounds pretty normal to me. Sorry!
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post #7 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 09:42 PM
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I can relate this very much to raising children; we parents feel so much responsibility to make our kids into valuable members of society and we feel really responsible if they don't turn out just like we fantasize they will. It's part of the whole process.

AS for him moving out of your space without actually smacking him, have you tried smacking your booted foot? So that it makes a surprising noise?
Or smacking your thigh with your palm, good and loud? I am sure he knows you are a pushover now, so you might need to kind of shock him a bit and then create a "new " you who is not quite so nice and intimate and cozy with him.
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post #8 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 09:50 PM
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THR, I totally do understand where you are coming from. I've been there with my now-6 year old. It will get better and until then, it's 2 steps forward and 1 step backward. The good news is that this guy totally trusts you. The bad news is that he's maybe just not quite enough "in awe" of you (as in 'shock and awe'), in terms of respect.

With my guy, I had a lot of trouble with him being in my space. Nothing worked. I couldn't teach him to lunge because I couldn't get him far enough out of my bubble to 'send him'. I sent him to a trainer for his 3 year old training and it took maybe one day for that man to teach him about boundaries. The trainer showed me what he was doing and I was successful in getting him out of my space after that. Today, when he 'forgets' I can point at his chest and he backs up, or in extreme situations, wave my hand in front of his nose. He has felt the toe of my boot in his chest before if he does not move, so he knows I mean it and I don't have to have a whip in my hand. (The end of a lead rope works, too.)

So...I had never worked with a baby before, and I know you've got tons of experience so your case is different. But, just like me, you've got lots of emotion tied up in this colt of yours and you're worried about making sure he turns out right and is a horse that you want to have in your 'family' for the next 30 years. To be pleasant to be around, manners are a must.

Maybe, like me, seeing what someone else can do with him after a manners lesson will give you just the bit of extra training edge that you need with him. In other words, I wish now that I had sent Dallas off for a week or two for the manners and ground work alone. It would have made him much more pleasant to be around for the year or so before we actually sent him to the trainer!

Edited to add: Yes to Tiny's comments!! Said better than I could have!
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post #9 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 09:54 PM
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You can do this :)!
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post #10 of 24 Old 12-10-2011, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys.

He's pretty desensitized to me, the whip, the end of the lead rope, you name it.

I had a trainer help me for a few hours last year and he told me basically the same thing- that the horse should move off with a purpose and energy. He told me he would get aggressive if I "picked" on him all the time, and it was better to actually smack him hard with the whip than tap at him. Basically he said don't use the whip unless I needed to, but when I did need to use it, make an impression. He said most of his clients didn't have to carry a whip after a couple of weeks. Here I am almost a year later, still carrying a whip. He doesn't yield space hardly at all without it.

I guess part of the problem is I really don't want to whack him and he knows it. So he sort of half-heartedly obeys but doesn't really take me seriously.

When he DOES take me seriously, like say one time I was lunging him and he kept putting his head down to grab at some grass, I got after him with the whip and then he had a tantrum and bolted and got away from me. Very bad thing for him to get away with, because he's done that a few times now. It's like if I correct his behavior he's liable to have a tantrum and then I am out there working with him for a couple of hours instead of a nice short, sweet session like it should be.

So I don't know. I will just keep at it. Try to be firm (yes, I am a big softy) and try to have a more workmanlike attitude with him. Instead of "I am his mom and he is the love of my life" which is kind of how I feel towards him.

At first I never really could see the problem. Other horse people could. He would march right up and put his head through the fence and they would think it was rude and I would think he is just being friendly. But now I realize even being "friendly" is rude behavior on his part.
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