An Unfortunate Series of Events with Pepper - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 109 Old 05-28-2018, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 177
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An Unfortunate Series of Events with Pepper

Hello everyone! Being the only horsey person in my family and most of my friends, I don't get to talk much about my horse - and when I do people tend to not care :P So I'm going to talk all I want here instead. I also have an issue where once I start talking about my horse, I can't stop. So this first post especially is just unnecessarily long.

My name is Charlotte, I'm in high school and I (am trying to) do hunters with my mare Pepper. Pepper is a 14 year old AQH/Arab (quarab).

I bought Pepper from my old trainer, who had her since she was 2 years old and broke her herself. Nobody at my barn rode Pepper because she was "crazy" (can confirm :P). Somehow despite trying to sell her multiple times, my trainer always ended up taking her back because they didn't like her. I had always wanted to ride Pepper, but my trainer said no every time I asked. I did get to brush her a handful of times, and I had somehow fallen in love with her.

Before I started riding her, I was riding a push button lesson horse and was honestly bored out of my mind. Therefore, we were going to move to a different barn where I could get new experience. However, in a desperate attempt to keep us around, my trainer offered to let me ride Pepper, and that was the start of a new chapter filled with joy, laughter, along with blood and tears (lots of them). I started riding her in January of 2014.

I was the first person to ride Pepper in who knows how long, so we spent much time in the round pen, building up our confidence together. Eventually, we were jumping about the same height I had been on my lesson horse (2'3" or so). However, we did not get there easily. Pepper was the master of running out of jumps, which I had very little experience with. My new trainer has told me I've stayed on when she probably would have fallen off. Yet I still manage to fall off a lot, generally I fall when I shouldn't and manage to stay on when I should fall. I remember vividly, the first summer camp at the barn when I was riding Pepper, I fell off three times in one day - on the same jump. The first two times, Pepper did a nasty runout right before the jump, sending me flying the other direction. The third time, I was prepared! But the saddle wasn't. While I stayed on, the saddle had slipped some, spooking Pepper, and leaving me hanging on for dear life and she galloped around the ring. I ended up falling and was just really mad, because all I wanted to do was jump the jump. I remember laying on the ground in defeat as Pepper continued to gallop like a madman.

Afterwards, I learned that her teeth needed to be done and I, being the not best rider, was pulling on her mouth over the jump and causing her pain. That was the first day of camp, and I rode a different horse the rest of the week.

That was probably the worst day, but I refused to give up on her. Since, there have been countless refusals, runouts, panic attacks, spooking, tears, blood, falls, you name it.

In August of 2014, I wanted to start showing on an IEA team, so I split my time between my old trainer and Pepper, and the IEA team at the barn I'm actually at now (not on IEA, but I do have Pepper here with me!). This made my old trainer mad, and she sold Pepper from me. (At the time I didn't realize that was why she sold Pepper, but I know now. She was a good person who made some very bad choices.) I was devastated.

However, like I said before, nobody ever kept Pepper for very long, so she ended up back at the barn. My old trainer did not want her there, however, and was trying to do anything to sell her. My mom ended up buying Pepper for me as a late birthday present. I learned the news on November 13th, 2014. She thinks I'm crazy for having this date memorized, but hey, horse people are crazy, right?

We lived our lives (with lots of panic attacks and tears. I've learned that I'm actually terrified of jumping horses, but I refuse to let that get in my way. I've been put on anxiety medicine since lol!) until the day after this past Christmas (dec'17). We got a call from my trainers mother saying she had been caught doing illegal things and was being put into rehab. I have no idea where she's at now or what she's doing, but I hope she's doing well.

We moved Pepper to the barn we're at now, which is now having issues of its own. Read this post for more information on that :

So, back to the present.

I went to visit Pepper yesterday, and it was... interesting to say the least. It started with me finding out that her pasture-mate has been biting her poor booty, as she's got bite marks all over it. I've also been having issues tying her as she does not stand if she's on grass and she spooks super easily when she's tied. I don't want to tie her to the fence in case she spooks and breaks something, so I tied her very loosely around a post inside her pasture (at least that way if she gets loose she's still in the pasture), which worked well until her pasture-mate came over and started biting her. I ran her away long enough for me to get Pepper, only to realize I forgot one half-chap inside the pasture-boarders tack shed which was a long enough walk that I didn't feel comfortable leaving Pepper by herself, so I took her with me. Once I got there, I had no choice but to tie her to the fence for like 30 seconds while I put on my half-chap. I just looped her lead around the fence post, hoping the pressure would be enough to make her think she was tied long enough for me to put on one half-chap.

Well, because this is how my life goes :P she managed to spook at a blue bag (the dreaded plastic bags) before I could even get my half-chap zipped. I looked outside to find her taking a leisurely canter down the path back to her pasture. I sighed and walked after her, still with only with one half-chap on and brought her back up, where I held her and put on my half-chap, before walking her across the street to the covered arena.

She tried to run me over like five times, so I closed the arena gate and took her bridle off to free lunge her a bit, trying to get some energy out. She took off cantering, only to stop at the other end of the arena where a bit of grass was sneaking through the fence.

I got on her and she took off cantering with her head down, bucking. I let her run some energy out before we did some actual work on transitions. She behaved pretty well after that.

Anyways, tomorrow I have to leave school early and hold her while she gets shod because last time the farrier came she tried to kill everyone (see link above for details). So, I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow. Hopefully nobody dies or gets hurt lol

Moral of my horse journey so far:

Flicka is a lie. It takes long, hard work to ride/train a horse. When I first started riding Pepper, I honestly thought it would be a miracle thing where she misbehaved for everyone but me and I was some sort of horse whisperer and yeah.

Now we're at the point where nobody else can ride her, and I can barely ride her. On my first lesson with my new trainer, she got on Pepper and her first words were "this is worse than I thought".

Also, I know it's not good that she misbehaves for everyone but me, but we're taking baby steps.
CharlotteThePenguin is offline  
post #2 of 109 Old 05-29-2018, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 177
• Horses: 1

So the farrier went great!

Pepper's been pretty easy to catch lately too. I don't remember if I wrote about this in my original post (I think I did) but she was so difficult to catch that it took like four people one time. I fixed this by free lunging her around the pasture and making her work if she didn't come to me. Now, it only takes one or two times of "sending her away" so to speak and making her work before she'll come to me. Today it was only one, and she ran to the gate.

Back to the farrier - I was super worried about today. At first, she was super jumpy (and I've also realized that the farrier isn't very careful with his stuff... he kept dragging things and just making loud sounds. You'd think after working with horses for so long he'd learn that some are more spooky than others, but whatever), but she soon calmed down and let him do her feet with no issues! I think the main thing was she was facing outside, so even though she wasn't actually outside, she could see out.

The walk back to her pasture was nice too. When it's not a bazillion degrees out, it's actually a pretty nice little stroll.

Oh, she also stood and let me pick her feet out without me holding her before the farrier was ready for her. I tried to make her clean as possible, which was difficult since it's been raining for literally two and a half weeks straight and my horse lives in the pasture, but she stood fine.

Anyways, it was a good day!
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post #3 of 109 Old 05-29-2018, 06:39 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: middle of nowhere
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She sounds like quite the character....

She sounds like a fun, challenging horse. Enjoy her!

Last edited by SilverMaple; 05-29-2018 at 06:51 PM.
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post #4 of 109 Old 05-30-2018, 12:33 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Southern California
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I went back and read your situation with the boarding. I agree with everything said, but want you to keep in mind that unless you get real lucky, every boarding situation will be a trade off. The situation you are in is bad, get out right away. Clean fresh water and no wasps is a deal breaker. But the most important part of horses is that you enjoy them. Your mare sounds challenging, but you love her and that is what will get you to improve your horsemanship.

Also, if and when you ever get to the point of keeping your horse in your back yard you will truly appreciate it. It's a whole different level of connecting with your horse.
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post #5 of 109 Old 06-02-2018, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 177
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I ramble really bad, sorry!

So today was terrible. Pepper was great, but I was not.

I decided to tie her to the fence like I was at first, and just giving her enough lead to graze. I hate doing this, especially with all the flies, because I'm scared she'll get her hoof caught and get hurt, but I didn't really have another choice. I looped the lead around the fence post so that if something did happen she could get loose. Luckily everything was fine. I tacked her up and started off towards the arena.

When I got to the arena I realized I forgot her bridle! At my old barn, my trainer never wanted us to put the bridle on until we were in the arena, because it was safer to lead them in a halter so that the bit wouldn't hurt them if something happened. I don't know the validity of this statement, but I always feel better about leading her in a halter. Since this is engrained as a habit, I forgot to put her bridle on beforehand, and somehow managed to forget it all together.

Anyways, the wasps are still there. I got Pepper's bridle, but as I was leaving a Lowe's Hardware truck pulled up in the BO's driveway, which is right beside the tack shed. Pepper spooked at this, which I don't blame her for at all because we were around the corner and couldn't see it until it was right at us. (It wasn't actually that near us, neither of us were in any danger of it hitting us or anything, but a big truck coming out of nowhere would've probably scared me too.)

I wasn't prepared for this, so I tripped backwards into the door of the shed... where the wasps are. One got on the back of my neck and I about had a heart attack. I went to smack it as it stung my back, and then it stung my finger as I smacked it. Fun times. Anyways, in this act of self-defense against the wasp, I ended up falling on the ground as Pepper was backing away as quickly as possible, dragging me with her. (Side note: This is a great example of why I don't like to lead in bridles. If that happened with a bit, it could've cut her bad.)

All of this while the Lowe's people and the BO's husband were watching. Apparently, they didn't care to see if I was okay, because they just kept talking.

Anyways, that happened and I walked across the street to the arena and barn to go tell whoever was there about the wasps.

On my way there, one of those tiny roadrunner-looking birds (Brown Thrasher? I'm a horse person, not a bird person lol!) had made a nest at the outdoor arena fence and proceeded to run after me and Pepper. Looking back, this is pretty hilarious, but Pepper thought she was about to die.

Finally, I told someone about the wasps, got my horse's bridle on, and mounted.

Pepper was rocking it today. She did whatever I asked of her. Including stopping before the jump. Which I asked because I got scared. It was the tiniest jump ever, but for some reason, my brain would not allow me to allow Pepper over it. The second time, I honestly just got into the worst two-point ever and hoped she'd decide to jump it. Being the great horse she was today, she hopped right on over it.

Generally, getting over it once is enough, but my anxiety was not having it. We did this like three more times, me riding like a literal potato and not giving her any guidance before I realized we were accomplishing nothing. I dismounted and chose to do some lunging instead. I set up a tiny jump and lunged Pepper over it a few times. She was great, super lazy, but great. We did that for a few minutes before someone had to do their lesson and I left.

So again, Pepper was such a good girl. Sometimes when I get nervous it makes her nervous, but today she seemed to be okay and decided to take care of me. It can be hard with her sometimes, because I actually have to ride her. As in, she will not go over the jump if I don't stay alert and tell her to. But today she allowed me to be an awful rider and still do what she was supposed to.

The wasps were still mad when I went to put my tack up, so I had a fun ten-minute fight with my brain to let me put my saddle up. Although, in my defense, there was one wasp that kept flying around instead of just staying put. I nearlt had a panic attack because I couldn't just leave my stuff on the ground. I would've just taken it with me but I still had to go inside and get my keys and lock the door back.

So yeah, Pepper was perfect and I was a potato, but it's fine lol.
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post #6 of 109 Old 06-02-2018, 06:14 PM
Green Broke
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Location: Southern California
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This wasp thing is out of control. Hope you can get out of there soon.
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post #7 of 109 Old 06-02-2018, 07:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Washington
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"Flicka is a lie." haha ohhhhmygosh I died at this. Honestly though if you can stick it out it sounds like she'll teach you a lot.

My first horse was a royal pain the first solid year I had him, and he still has his moments if I'm going to be completely honest. But he's 10 now and I've had him a little over 4 years I think, so we've learned to deal with each other when things get sticky. But the first 90 days I had him was technically trial (he came from a very lovely ottb rescuer), and I cant count the number of times I had a "he's such a pain I should send him back..." moment. Even the next few months after trial I considered just getting him in shape, and getting weight on him, then selling him... But here we are. I'm glad I didn't.

"The horse, with beauty unsurpassed, strength immeasurable, and grace unlike any other still remains humble enough to carry a man upon his back." -Wise and Greatful
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post #8 of 109 Old 06-03-2018, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: North Carolina
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Wasps are still there. I came to ride after a nice relaxing day (also I remembered my anxiety medicine this morning so that there would be no panic over jumping) but there are even more wasps on the wasp nest than there were yesterday so I just closed the shed and said nope! Currently just chilling and letting Pepper graze. She is a firm believer of the grass being greener on the other side so I figured I would just let her eat some. There is one good thing about the pasture board here - it’s super peaceful. The main barn is usually full of people and there’s always at least one person there. But I never see anyone over here so I can just chill in peace!

I don’t know why I never see anyone else out here. There are ten horses out here. Two per pasture and five pastures. I don’t know who owns them. I know my horse’s pasturemate isn’t owned by the barn. I don’t know who owns her though.

Enjoy this picture of her stuffing her face with grass while watching the cows
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post #9 of 109 Old 06-03-2018, 09:01 PM
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Location: Upstate New York
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I personally would get some wasp spray and nail that sucker. Waiting around for others to take care of it - who most likely won't - would drive me nuts.
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post #10 of 109 Old 06-04-2018, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: North Carolina
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^^ That's what I ended up doing. I told both the BO and the second-in-command (I don't know what her real title is, but she's the second trainer and works closely with BO a lot) and both said they get to it and never did. I understand they're busy, but there's always a stablehand around who could've gotten it on their way to feed the pasture horses. I just sprayed it with some Raid. I hope they don't come back. There were still some wasps around but maybe since their nest is gone they'll leave for good.


Anyways, I went to the barn today determined to not be scared today since I didn't get to fix it yesterday. I only jumped two different jumps because I was nervous about the others and didn't have time to work through my nerves in a positive way because the other trainer had to use the arena for a little kid's lesson. I didn't want to bother them in their lesson.

Six months ago at this time, I had some odd fear of cantering or trotting up to jumps without starting directly in front of them. My mare can be cheeky and likes to run out of jumps, so coming to them from around a corner where I might not be able to get her perfectly lined up was terrifying. It was like my brain couldn't do it all - turn, stay in position, pay attention to the jump, etc. So I always came up to the jump from a walk or stopped in front of it (not like right in front of it, I was far enough away to get a canter - although usually not a steady one if she started quickly).

Today, we cantered up to the jump like it was nothing and we could start cantering from anywhere in the arena.

I fell off a few weeks ago on one jump that I'm super wary about. I didn't jump that one today, but there's only two (and sometimes three depending on the day) that don't make me anxious. Two of them I have reasons, although they're kinda stupid lol. The first is that jump that I fell off on, and the second is one that has haybales underneath it so it's kinda like an oxer.

But today was good! I feel good about what we did, even though it wasn't much. I have an exam tomorrow so I don't know if I'll be going tomorrow, but if so I'll post about whatever we do.

She's wearing a fly mask for the first time because the flies here are awful. I've never seen so many flies. Hopefully, she doesn't destroy it We'll see how long it lasts.
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