Back to basics: restarting my Arab mare! Long post!
Last November, I bought an eleven year old Arab mare from a supposedly private seller, who claimed that she was moving abroad in the next month and hence needed to rehome her quickly. Home was more important than price, so she offered the mare to me for what equated to meat money. (Yeah, I know, gift horses, etc...)
The mare was described as being a sensible hacking horse, bombproof in traffic, but had done very little else due to the seller having been too busy with work, etc. Never bucked, reared, bitten or napped, etc, but could be forward going and sharp, so not a complete novice ride. Fair enough, I can handle that.
Well, nine months on, and I now know that the seller was in truth a dealer. And that the mare was used as a broodmare, and occasionally hacked out for half an hour or so. Say once every three or four months. (The seller admitted this a few weeks after I bought her, btw.) Cue emergency vet exam in case of foal - thankfully no!
Contrary to what the seller claimed, my mare does not have a rub on her flank from a non-slip pad. What she has, according to my vet, is a melanoma. Which we are now treating, at our own expense, as insurance regard it as pre-existing and won't cover it - fair enough. Just sad that she never got treatment for it before. Especially since she has since admitted that she knew it wasn't a rub but in fact a melanoma.
Regarding lunge work, well this little horse is terrified of any sort of whip, especially lunge whips. After much desensitising, she now copes with the presence of basic riding crops, but freaks out if they are used on her or if she hears the noise of one. We are still working on the lunge whip. She will sniff one now, and doesn't totally panic at the sight of them, though she still goes rigid. Today, she actually stood still and let me stroke her withers with one. So progress is being made.
My mare has now lost her winter coat of course. Beneath it were several horrible scars - covering the insides of her hind legs. They look as if she was caught up in something: most likely barbed wire. She gets very stiff through her hind quarters if she is kept in too much.
She also has a small scar running down from beneath her right eye. She was extremely head shy at first, but over the past two weeks we have finally progressed to being able to touch her ears, poll and face.
At the moment, she is having time off in the field due to her having been trimmed too severely by the farrier. I told him just to check her over and rasp her hooves but he trimmed as if he was going to shoe her - she is barefoot. So she is footy on hard surfaces.
My OH and I have been talking things over with the vet and our instructors. First off, the vet has stated that she can only ever be ridden with a special thick pad, that has a section cut out of it to protect the melanoma from rubbing. He doesn't want to try surgery as it has a 50/50 chance of making thongs worse rather than better. If the melanoma starts to show signs of irritation, then we are to quit riding her entirely. She could be bred from again though.
Our instructor thinks she is a very tough ride, but that there is no badness in her. Basically, the horse doesn't know most of the basic stuff that she should for being used as a riding horse. So she thinks we either need to sell her, or reschool her properly.
Well, as you can guess from the title, we decided to reschool. She is pretty much unsaleable as she is, unless we lied about her health and other issues to another gullible person...not going to happen. There is one lady who might want to buy her as she owns her half-brother. She wants to breed from her, and depending on the melanoma do long distance riding. But she isn't sure if she wants to buy or not. And the longer she takes to decide, the less inclined I am to sell to her. It's been two weeks since she came to view her, btw. I'm sort of writing her off as a no-show by this point, as still no word on her decision either way.
So this is going to be my thread about reschooling her. We are taking her right back to basics, from the ground up. I'm selling all my dressage equipment and we will be training her to western riding instead. I have an old western saddle that we have used on her once or twice before. She is far happier in it than in the dressage saddle, which she flinches at the sight of. With the western she is completely relaxed.
Wish us luck! Tips and advice very welcome...oh, and she respects my space now too, if anyone remembers how things were before!
A moment of patience is worth an hour of wrath...