"Playing the Hero" -- when to 'stick with it' & when to realize it's time to move on. - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not talking needs a bit of training/settling... I'm talking that horse that makes us look like fools... the horse that has problems, the horse that bucks/bolts/spins/rears/kicks.. you name it... and it's beyond our knowledge level.
I would just like to re-iterate this piece, if I may: The horse that's over your head doesn't have to do all this stuff.... I simply mean that if the horse does stuff that you're uncomfortable with, whether that's bolting, taking the bit, or rearing or bucking, and you don't know how to deal with it effectively and within a timely manner, realize that you're in over your head.
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post #12 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 02:09 PM
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This post is awesome. I was one of those people who bought two horses that were over my previous level of horsemanship. Once I realized this, I took the actions necessary for me to keep my animals. I hired a trainer who taught me the basics of how to handle a horse on the ground, and from there I worked on it every day to get to where I am now. I used to babysit for my last trainer to get discounted/free lessons whenever possible. I worked at a feed store for 2 years and learned everything about feeding and caring for horses because they are my passion and I wanted to learn as much about them as possible. I went to the trade shows and the horse expos and the clinics with top dressage riders just to watch how people not only handled and rode, but how they connected with and took care of their horses. I'm happy to say I've always had horse sense, and I love deepening and broadening my knowledge. I am still not world's greatest rider because I don't have the money to take lessons. I get most of my experience through working deals. I often take on challenges that are over my head and learn and work to overcome them. But that's the difference! You have to be willing to work hard and learn, not just continue to do nothing and destroy both your and your horses life.

All I can add is that if you really need help, there are ways to find it. Offer up a room in your house in exchange for daily training from a horse savvy college student or trainer. Attend clinics and watch DVDs or watch training sessions other people are giving. Get involved with a local barn and clean stalls in exchange for lessons, and meet people in your area willing to mentor you. There are many opportunities, and if this is something you really WANT you CAN find a solution without paying a lot of money. :)
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post #13 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 03:47 PM
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Thanks for writing this JDI!

Looking back on Lacey and I, when I first got her, I'm still amazed that I'm not dead. Hahaha I guess I got lucky that I joined this forum when I got her and was able to learn by trial and error with her because otherwise...I don't even know.

I also second what iride said. Especially about how if your horse is still having major issues after you've been working with it for a year, you have a problem. I do know, however, that it took Lacey and I about a year to iron all the major kinks out of our relationship that were causing her difficulty, but pretty exactly on the one year mark we had gotten it all figured out. We still had little kinks to work out then but now, about 20 months into our relationship, we're pretty much golden.
I feel like, if you have a "problem" horse and you aren't making huge strides in your understanding of what's going on and then noticeable strides in the direction of fixing it, from about the second month (because I feel like you don't truly see a horses true colors for about a month, also you need to know the horse enough to know what's going on), you need to either sell the horse or get help, real honest to goodness professional help, not your next door neighbor who's trained a horse once or twice.

Really, the only reason I stuck with Lacey was because if I gave up on her, the auction and slaughter were her next stop (according to my BO/trainer who was her real full owner at the time). I just couln't have that on my conscience, so I stuck with Lacey way past anything my trainer/myself felt comfortable with. I mean, Lacey scared me so badly that I did not ride her for 4 stinking months! I mean, I was doing tons of groundwork in that time which I'm sure helped me once I did get back in the saddle, but still. 4 months should have been the giant blinking light that said to me "this is too much for you!!".

But in any case, I feel very fortunate that Lacey is good natured enough to not have killed me and that I was experienced enough as a horseperson to know how to pick and choose my battles. Very fortunate indeed.
And as a plea to anyone who might read this and think "Some girl on the interwebs did it! I can do it too!" Please don't. It was not good for my mental health and I really wish I had just gone with something that was my actual skill level. Also, before I met Lacey, I had/have spent many many hours retraining horses that were problems on a smaller scale than Lacey was. The only reason I didn't die with Lacey was that I had already learned how to sit quietly, how to calm my insides when they are FREAKING OUT, how to feel when a horse is about to o something and how to stop them before they do, I had already learned the lesson of "velcro-butt," and even then, I was on this forum asking for help ALL the time. Otherwise, I probably would have died, just sayin.

Thank you, again, so much for writing this JDI! It's something everyone should read and really consider.
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Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #14 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 06:59 PM
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Great read.

I know I've leared so much from the first couple of horses I ever touched, and I nearly did ruin my first horse. Thankfully someone with ALOT more know how took him on and was able to deal with the issues that I had created.

I consider myself an intermediate/experienced horse person but I am still not afraid to ever send my horse to a trainer or work with a coach if I am stuck on something, nor am I afraid to sell that horse if I know it's just not going to work out. But I wasn't always like this. I held onto that first horse that I nearly ruined for a good long time...I wasn't willing to give up (both a good trait and a bad trait)
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post #15 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 08:36 PM
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thanks for the post, it means a lot for me even. it's almost funny, here i am, newlywed and mid 20's, and i'm fussing with an OTTB that very well may be over my head. i'm risking my neck because i'd much rather it be me than my wife as it's her horse.

i didn't do anything with him for over six months because i just plain didn't know WHAT to do with him. i'd spent over a year before that on a learning curve getting education on how to do and work with horses. but he was still just that much over me. i'd gotten on him a few times, but didn't really get anywhere with him. however, my brother did grow up with them and he came out a couple times and worked on him. gave me some ideas and pointers, really boosted my confidence on the whole deal.

so the wife and i had come up with a different plan that if we hadn't gotten him behaved and ridable by the end of summer it was time for him to go. but then another idea was given to me. given 60 days of DAILY riding, we'd have one of two things. either we'd have a usable horse who's half decent, or my wife would say that it's time to get rid of him.

so far, about a week into this thing, i'm not going to throw any suggestions out there as to what's going to happen yet. he's not horrid in terms of behavior. he's well mannered on the ground until i go to get on him, but once on, i have control. he's got some pretty bad manners sometimes, but is making progress well. next weekend it may be time to start incorporating my spouse into his training program. plus she IS involved because she does good ground work, thus is going to be the one to learn him to stand while being mounted.

i just hope and pray that if it does come to that time that she it and won't fight me. i haven't felt in REAL danger yet, however there's been a couple of times that i wondered if he was going to try and rear or buck. however, he still hasn't and it was pointed out that often times the feeling comes from him tripping over himself.

anyhow, thanks again for the post, and i hope that someone out there will take it to heart and save themselves some time, trouble, and possibly pain/injury.
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post #16 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 08:43 PM
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I'm NOT arguing here, but just wondering. If you get say wild horse (btw, I don't see anything romantic about getting wild horse, but only problems unless you have tons of experience to deal with one) or horse with problems (for example, seller lied or you took one out of pity (YES, it's NOT the way to go, but things happen)), and horse is too much for you AND noone is interested even in taking it for free. Now what should you do? Put it down? Sell it to the meat plant?

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post #17 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 09:19 PM
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In my opinion, if a horse is SO dangerous that you can't even give it away, you're probably better off loading it on a one-way truck so nobody else gets hurt anyway. I suppose the kind thing to do in some eyes would be to put them down, but if I was somehow tricked into paying money for such an animal (tranq'ed at selling for example), I would ship it and recoup some of my losses. I couldn't personally ship a doting pet, but a rank bronc who had no interest in learning manners doesn't matter which trailer he's in, he's still on the fight, so let him fight it out with the packers.

Excellent post JDI. People seem to really hang on to this old cowboy idea of rough riding a horse into the ground and never giving up. They don't realize that plenty of stock got a bullet to the brain after it had crunched the third or fourth cowboy. These horses were a livelihood back in the day, and having to admit defeat usually meant a wincing hit to the pocketbook, so they were determined to try as hard as they could to make a worker out of a mean range cuss. There is also a HUGE difference between the one in a thousand wild bronc who would fight to the death, and a spoiled miserable rotten domestic horse that someone has ruined.

There was a time when I'd climb on anything. Now, I look long and hard at what someone is asking me to climb onto. There are just certain vices and certain states of mind in horses that nobody should ever have to deal with because the chance of bringing them around is slim to none.

And agreed with whoever mentioned the insanity behind teenage kids professing undying love to a horse that tries to maim them daily. You need to learn **** fast that your horse doesn't know what "love" is and nickering for you at the fence does not mean he's going to think twice about piling you into a wall and going after you with his teeth if he doesn't feel like being ridden. Get rid of him and get something worth your time and effort - quit foolin' yourself into thinking a horse that delibrately tries to hurt humans is worth saving.
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post #18 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 09:42 PM
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post #19 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 10:05 PM
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Excellent post. A few weeks ago I brought up this topic on one of my list serv/email forums for myself.
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post #20 of 225 Old 03-20-2010, 10:49 PM
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I would like to add a personal story...I appologize for the length but I think it really is an eye opener for some of you.

When I was 11 my trainer rescued an abused, neglected underweight 2 yr old colt. His name was Raymond. I was horseless at that time and spent hours that summer reading in his pasture, feeding him treats and desensitizing him to the "simple things in life" like brushes, carrots, people...etc. I was the first to brush him, the first to halter him, the first to lead him,you get the picture. I was also officially the first person on his back when it came time to back him and he was gelded (i.e pony ride with the trainer at his head). I was light, had a "velcro butt" and I volunteered...haha!

He got 60 or 90 days from my trainer to be a western pleasure/team penner and didn't hack it. He had too much go and not enough jog...plus he ran away from half the cows he met. But for a greenie he was sane, I was riding him in lessons and occasionally on trail rides after she had put the beginning miles on him. Needless to say he wasn't gonna be her next all around versatility ranch horse. So the decision was made to sell him. He was inexperienced but game and I was looking for an english mount.

A brief history of my experience at that point. I got my first pony at 4 and was on the back of a horse at least once a week after that, baring death or weather related setbacks. I was experienced with adversity, I never had a push button horse to learn on. I learned to ride with a stubborn shetland, a kids crop and how to utilize kicking, smacking and hanging onto the horn at the same time and the most we ever achieved was a plodding lope up a small hill for about 3 strides. Steering was always optional in my younger years naturally. Insert local yokel trainer and I learned about figure eights, heels down, head up and direct opening rein. I think I learned to post about this time too...I was 8. After three years with this trainer, insert the story of Raymond from above, naive parents, a grandmother with some extra cash and a trainer that swears we can learn together....(Any red flags going up yet?)

With the help of my esteemed instructor, it took me 2 years to ruin him. He was sour, he was malicious, he had learned how to unstick my velcro. With creative movements that mirrored such exalted moves as the canter pirrouette, the capriole and a few that he made up. Such as the duck and scoot, the drop the shoulder and change leads real quick, the buck coming off a fence trick was always a personal favorite of mine as well and the drop your head to your knees and hop sideways maneuver was a personal favorite of his.

I loved this horse, he was my baby...(insert 13 yr old girl whining here). The parents finally caught onto the fact that the 13 yr old telling her parents that her trainer sucks might be a valid argument and we leave. Enter...non-show barn with trails and a crappy ring. I hauled out for hunter/jumper lessons to a local stable and spent a lot of time lunging, trail riding and hanging out with him. I also started riding with an older friend and she started helping me to undo the problems my inexperience and bad instruction had created.

Fast forward through lots of money, tons of clinic and lesson hours, numerous instructors and knowledgeable friends and you're where I am today. I have a wonderful gelding, who is highly trained and a total in your pocket personality. He still tests every single person that gets on him, he is still a bit stiff and heavy in his laterals and on his forehand. He still throws tantrums when he's asked to work and do higher level movements. These days his tantrums are over whether he really wants to school 2nd and 3rd level dressage movements, or behave on a trail ride by himself or calmly accept the ground hogs, tarps, mini donkey and deer that frequently careen past our ring instead of ducking and scooting or crow hopping away.

For 5 years I said almost every week that I came home from the barn in tears that I was going to sell him. The ONLY thing that stopped me was my parents saying, if you sell him you won't be getting another horse from us. In a lot of ways they did me a favor, it made me the trainer I am now, the rider I am now and it made me appreciate how easy it is to ruin a horse and how hard to fix.

But my childhood and my teenage years could have been full of winning championships for my skills, or going on relaxing rides through the woods instead of the blood, sweat and tears I put into this gelding just to be able to go to a show for the day and not fall off. To not be disqualified for blowing simple leads or having him try to run over the judge or away with me. To be able to hack out alone without an hour long battle and impressive airs above ground.

And no matter what training I have put on him since, he still has mental scars from my misuse as a child. He still reverts back to his 4 year old self. He still does the same maneuvers, the same tricks and throws the same tantrums when he is having a bad day. That is part of his training too and it will never go away. I used to joke that I have to keep him because nobody else will put up with his crap, which isn't quite true anymore. I have finally re-taught him to be a productive member of equine society. It just took us 10 years to get there. He was born in 1996 and I bought him in 1998. I was 11, I'm now 23.

P.S-Feel free to cross post this or use it if you would like.
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