Hi all! I logged on and read a lot of the new responses earlier today with my phone, but am just now back at home and my computer to write a response. 2013 has really decided to start off with a bang this year! I had to take my german shepherd into the vet school for a draining cyst (ugh. Spare yourself the trauma of asking for details) and on the way back home my car stalled and smoke decided to pour out of the hood. Apparently my radiator is blown. Well when it doesn't rain it pours, right? Ha! First off
I would like to thank everyone for their advice, similar stories, and different ways to look at the cause and possible ways to go about diagnosing his issue. After careful consideration I have decided on the following plan of action: 1.
I am really interested in the test for 'misfiring' brain waves that free mare mentioned. However, something of that magnitude financially is not in the playing cards for me right now. I have ample money I have saved for vet fees, but his stifle fracture and sacroilliac injury and his diagnosis of ulcers all within the last 8 or so months has really drained the account and I do not feel like the brain wave test is plausible right now. I will keep it in mind for the future. 2.
I am planning on putting a call into my vet from MSU tomorrow to discuss possible additional options and asking him for some insight in the matter. Perhaps he will be able to point me in a training vs mental health direction. 3.
As saddlebag and others have mentioned, teaching him to ground tie is a great way to get around this if it is truly a "behavior" problem. I have already been working on the "stand" command with him, and that is something we will continue in the future. He is coming along nicely and I until I get a further handle on things I will proboably use this method as a substitute for tying. 4.
I am also going to continue working with him on releasing to massive amounts of pressure applied to his poll. Not that I plan on applying massive amounts of pressure .. but I think it was Muppetgirl who theorized that maybe he was exerting so much pressure on himself that it was causing him to freak out when he really decided to pull back. As she also suggested, I will probably tie him in a normal nylon halter for once to see if his freak outs are any less mild once he immediately is freed. If so, I believe that will point to more of a training problem and we will go back to square one.
I am always on my guard with Drifter, because I know he has this problem. Anyone who has daily contact with him also knows of his problem. I make sure to let people know so that no one will ever truly be taken by surprise. As it stands, he for sure has a forever home with me so if it is just a tying quirk (or even if it is a 'misfire') I will work with it and adapt my methods to handle myself and him safely. I will keep you updated on how the talk with my vet goes, and any new things I discover.
I also appreciate the advice that many of yall gave about keeping a note of what the scene is like before he freaks. I have decided to just keep a daily riding journal. I have a few friends at the barn who do it, and maybe it will help me be able to look back and say "hmm. This was a common factor both times when he freaked".
Again I appreciate it all! I have been stumped by him for a while, and the trainer advice I got (twitches, parelli, etc) never seemed to me like it would be beneficial. I enjoy having this site to reach other more knowledgable horse owners. Thanks everyone!