Her spirit seems gone...

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Her spirit seems gone...

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    01-17-2011, 03:19 PM
Her spirit seems gone...

I didn't know where to put this really. It's not a health problem, I don't think. It's not a training thing either. But I've noticed that my horse has gotten dull and spiritless. I was watching videos of her that her old trainer got for me to look at before I bought her (I got her sight unseen). She had so much spunk in those videos, she was playing and bucking. She had a sparkle and fire in her eye, which is one of the reasons I was so attracted to her. Now I don't see that anymore and I don't know why. It's not her feed or anything, it hasn't changed. I did have her on alfalfa pellets for a bit to up her weight, but the extra protein made her crazy and aggressive. So I switched her back to 12% and am about to add beet pulp to put more weight on her. I just want that spunky horse back...

Maybe it's something I'm doing wrong. Am I boring and overworking her? Am I not giving her enough attention? I've done the best that I can with her, I've worked so hard to the best of my ability. Lately, I've been so busy with school and college/scholarship applications that I haven't been able to spend as much time with her. I've had to cut down barn time to one hour a day instead of my usual 3 hours. I think I'm also depressed, which makes me just want to sleep most of the time. I haven't spoken to my parents about this, I figure they have enough to deal with. I've always heard that horses feed off of our emotions a lot so maybe Dasha's feeding off of mine. I've lost interest in life and so has she. I don't know.

Wow, I've told probably more than I should have, haha. I just want MY horse back, the horse I bought a year ago. This is what she used to be like:
I want that horse back.
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    01-17-2011, 06:12 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
I think that you're onto something when you say that she might be feeding off of your feelings. Horses are very sensative creatures. That's what makes them so fantastic for therapy, and its why us humans treasure our bonds with our animals so much. It helps the horse know what we want before we even do sometimes, and it helps them become our best friends. I'd say begin with trying to help yourself first. Talk to your parents. Yes, Im sure that they are busy- but you need to talk to someone. Find the root of your own depression and try to solve it. You might just find that your mare will gain back some of her 'spunk' just by seeing that you feel better. It could be possible, too, that she IS a bit bored. Can you try changing up her routine? You not being out there may be confusing her just a bit, and she may be more lonely. Try letting her out into a pasture more if you have access ( that is, if she stays in a stall) or maybe even think about finding a pasture buddy for her to hang out with if she normaly stays alone. If you do a lot of arena work, pick one day a week to just do something fun. Go on a trail ride if you have a place to do that, or just take her out and let her graze while you're with her. I don't know if you do any sort of competitive riding, and you probably don't have time to anyways now that school is getting harder (believe me, I feel your pain! I'm overloaded too!) but maybe just vary it up a bit. Let her go around some barrels one day, or trot some poles. Make up a pattern for her to try or work on moving in and out of tight spots. Ofcourse, it may be something else that is bugging her. Its hard to tell with such sensitive animals and you may just have to use a process of elimination. Start with those two things. I really hope you can find your girl's shine again! Its no fun to see our large friends depressed.
    01-17-2011, 10:23 PM
I want to talk to my parents because I don't like feeling like this and I don't like the things this depression has driven me to do. I just need to work up the courage.
Dasha is out 24/7 because she hates being in a stall, but she is alone and has been since I got her. There's a pony down the road, but I was hesitant about putting her in with him because she's never been in a pasture with another horse before. She's always been near other horses, like an over-the-fence deal, but never actually in a pasture with another horse. That could be it though, she may just be lonely. I'll talk to the lady who owns Copper and see what she says, I bet he'd like company too.
I think that we have quite a variety in places to ride, but we've been everywhere so many times that nothing seems new. I wouldn't be surprised if she were a little bored, I get bored too! It doesn't help that we've hit a brick wall in her training, so she's not learning anything. It's the same, unproductive thing everyday. And I'm going to admit, it's not that fun to ride anymore. I don't see us going anywhere or getting any better and it just discourages me. Getting a trainer's not an option right now either, so I'm trying to do my best...
I've been wanting to put up an obstacle course of sorts up in a corner of the pasture so I'll probably look a little more into doing that, it may be fun.
Thank you for your suggestions (: I will try both of them.
    01-17-2011, 10:30 PM
Green Broke
I think that being out 24/7 makes a horse lazier. Sounds like it could be a combination of things....Being out all the time, no horses to be with and feeding off your feelings.
    01-17-2011, 10:49 PM
I wish I could keep her in her stall even a little bit to give the pasture some rest (it's not doing too well with this winter!) but she HATES her stall. I had to keep her in there for about a month due to an injury and she was absolutely neurotic. She chewed through half a board and left sawdust on the ground. There was also a very pronounced circle on the ground from her pacing so much. She needs to get used to being in a stall when I move her to the barn at college. I might try stalling her at night and letting her out during the day, do you think that would help?
    01-17-2011, 11:03 PM
Green Broke
You could try it and throw in one of those stall balls. I think what you are seeing is the fact that she is turned out so much. I've had horses that were energetic when stalled and turn to lambs when put out in the pasture.
    01-18-2011, 06:57 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
You could also try feeding her when she's in her stall. Just keep her in while she's eating, then release her as soon as she's done. That will help her understand that her stall is a good thing. After a while you can start upping the time.

As for the riding. What all can you guys do? It might interest her to learn how to sidestep, back up on command, ride with just a rope around her neck, do serpentines, go from halts to canters or learn to lengthen her strides as you ask. There is ALWAYS more for a horse to learn, it just depends on how much YOU know how to teach her (theres lots of internet sites that can teach you.)
    01-18-2011, 11:10 PM
I looked at the "before" video and I saw an energetic horse, but also one that had very little of itself connected to the human in there. It was running around but was not thinking about being in there. I got the feeling it wanted to leave there, and certainly the human was of very little importance to it. So, it seemed a bit anxious , not just spirited.
With you, with all day turn out and regular riding she is calming because she is more at ease with the whole thing. The anxiety is gone, thus the gush of energy. Horses , when happy, tend not to consume energy without a good reason to. She is content, perhaps.

That's one way to look at it. Being alone may be making her listless. Without a herd, what is there to live for?

Oh, and I wholeheartedly agree that you should talk to your parents about how your are feeling now. As a parent, I consider it a GREAT honor when my sons will share their personal feelings with me and ask for my help. It gives ME something to live for.
    01-19-2011, 05:30 PM
Endiku: Yes, thank you, I'll try that! For riding, it's not that she can't learn, I know she can, but I am having trouble teaching her. Like leg pressure. She doesn't respond to my legs and I don't know how to teach her. And bending, she doesn't. She drops her should her and leans into the circle instead of picking up her shoulder and rounding around the curve. I don't know how to fix that either. Riding her would be much more enjoyable for me if she knew these two things, but I'm clueless as how to teach it. I'm working on it though :/

tinylily: Yeah, I noticed that she did look a bit anxious in the videos. Maybe it is just that she's more relaxed. I'm going to ask the pony's owner to see if she may be interested in making him and my horse pasture buddies too.
I know, I need to talk to my parents. I'm just trying to work up the courage, it's not going to be easy :/ I've always been the easygoing, take-care-of-myself kid in the family. It's not in my personality to ask for help, I try to be as independent as I can. But everyone needs help sometimes, right?

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