An Unfortunate Series of Events with Pepper - Page 8 - The Horse Forum
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post #71 of 107 Old 11-01-2018, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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My trainer told me not to ride by myself. Which I forgot was a rule. I guess it's a rule? It's not written anywhere in the barn or on the boarding contract. But regardless she told me not to ride by myself.

I don't know if BO saw me out riding and told my trainer to tell me that or if it was just a 'be safe!' kinda thing.

It's irritating and I understand where she's coming from, but I'm willing to take the risks that come with it. I spent three years going to the barn by myself and riding. Now I know 'anything can happen' and I'm definitely aware that Pepper is not the safest horse to ride alone, but I've got busy parents who work all day and have to care for my little brother who can't drive yet (he's only 12), so I don't really have a choice unless I ride like once a week.

The real issue with this is the size of the arena. I can ride Tuesdays and Thursdays when my trainer is giving lessons, but I can't actually do anything because I'll get in the lessoner's way. And they certainly have 'right of way' (?) when it's their lesson time. But that means I can't jump or work on poles or even canter. Or really even anything but trotting on the rail haha.

I was willing to deal with this until yesterday. I'm currently in our school's play and rehearsals start next week. The play is on Dec. 7th and we're super-duper behind (I'm not convinced that this play is actually going to happen.) so rehearsals are every day (kill me now lol) after school until 5. And by then, the sun's basically down so no riding. Not gonna lie, I hope that the play doesn't happen for two reasons- 1) i like to be able to ride my horse and 2) I have a pretty large role and trying to memorize lines and blocking within four weeks gives me a lot of anxiety. I'm afraid I won't be prepared when I get on stage!

Luckily, I only take one class a day and then two classes on Tuesday/Thursday, so I can ride after my one class on M/W/F. Well, I could until I was told not to ride by myself.

So I lunged Pepper yesterday since I wasn't supposed to ride and it went super well. Except she was ridiculously lazy!! I do not and will not touch her with the lunge whip (unless we're desensitizing where I just rub it on her and stuff), so I had a nice time trying to get her to trot. No cantering was done yesterday haha. I'll crack the whip behind her on the ground, and she used to take off and spook at that, and yesterday she didn't even blink an eye.

We worked on ground poles and a little jumping on the lunge, so I got a nice workout walking around to make sure she was able to get straight to the jump and everything. She did pretty well. I found out that she spooks whenever she knocks a pole, so anytime she knocked it I made her keep working and go over it on the ground before putting it back up. If I don't make a big deal out of it, she won't either. Ideally, she doesn't knock them over at all, but we're getting there.

She's getting a lot better about not running out on the lunge. I used to have the most difficult time jumping her when I wasn't on her back (well, even when I was if I'm being honest lol) because she'd just run to the side. She only did that once yesterday and it was my fault because I got distracted and wasn't telling her what to do. But we didn't struggle with actually going over the poles and the jumps which was a big improvement.

I'm really going to try and look at what all was good instead of the bad. Because I feel like I do a lot of complaining and not enough not-complaining. (What's the opposite of complaining??? ) (google said gratitude, which isn't exactly what I'm thinking of, but close enough)

Also, completely unrelated, but I superglued three of my fingers together yesterday when trying to fix a halloween mask!
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post #72 of 107 Old 11-01-2018, 08:11 PM
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Lots and lots of people ride alone. A lot of us have no choice. I started riding solo at age 12 and let my kids ride solo at age 12. There must be some way you can get around this "rule." Maybe your mom could create a notarized document saying you are allowed to ride by yourself? You can really focus on your horse when it is just you and the horse. Hey, I'm sure you have a cell phone in your pocket. When I was a teen, riding by myself every single day, there were no cell phones.
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post #73 of 107 Old 11-02-2018, 11:19 AM
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Yep, I'm with knightrider, I was on my own from about age 12/13 - no cell phone until I was 16. I'd visit with your parents and the barn owner together to see if you could work out something allowing you to ride alone. Maybe there's a time during the day where you would be alone but only for a while until someone else shows up?

Something I do, even now, is to text my husband when I get to the barn, when I get on with an estimate of how long I'll be riding, and then when I get off. Just for safety so someone knows where I am and how long I planned to ride. If the ride ends up being longer I send another text to prevent worry. Maybe a set up like that could work for your situation?
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post #74 of 107 Old 11-02-2018, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knightrider View Post
Lots and lots of people ride alone. A lot of us have no choice. I started riding solo at age 12 and let my kids ride solo at age 12. There must be some way you can get around this "rule." Maybe your mom could create a notarized document saying you are allowed to ride by yourself? You can really focus on your horse when it is just you and the horse. Hey, I'm sure you have a cell phone in your pocket. When I was a teen, riding by myself every single day, there were no cell phones.
Yes, I keep my phone on me at all times when I'm alone! I've been riding alone for at least two years now since I got my license, and probably some before that when my mom would drop me off at the barn. If they start really telling me not to ride by myself, then I'll see what we can do. The worst case scenario is I guess I'll change barns again. I think I've been playing musical boarding barns this year I wasn't entirely sure if this 'rule' about not riding alone was a common thing or not since the last barn I was at there was always a stablehand on the property during the day and the one before that my trainer couldn't care less what we were doing.


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Originally Posted by NavigatorsMom View Post
Yep, I'm with knightrider, I was on my own from about age 12/13 - no cell phone until I was 16. I'd visit with your parents and the barn owner together to see if you could work out something allowing you to ride alone. Maybe there's a time during the day where you would be alone but only for a while until someone else shows up?

Something I do, even now, is to text my husband when I get to the barn, when I get on with an estimate of how long I'll be riding, and then when I get off. Just for safety so someone knows where I am and how long I planned to ride. If the ride ends up being longer I send another text to prevent worry. Maybe a set up like that could work for your situation?
I usually do let my mom or dad know when I'm leaving for the barn but I don't usually tell them what I'm doing or how long I'll be gone. I should probably start doing that. (I do call when I leave the barn though)


We'll figure something out regardless. Especially since it's my senior year, I'm going to ride as much as I can!
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post #75 of 107 Old 11-04-2018, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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I had a lesson today that went really well! Kinda...

80% of it was good.


First, we did some no-stirrup work at the trot. My legs hurt now haha. My old trainer never (literally never) did no-stirrups. After a while owning Pepper, I did a lot more research and stuff about horses and learned that most trainers have no-stirrups at least sometimes, so I taught myself to not fall off with no stirrups (this has proven handy quite a few times). I probably don't look very pretty riding stirrupless, but I can stay on most of the time if I do lose a stirrup!

Then we cantered. Well, we tried. Pepper would not canter the first way. Nothing I could do would make her canter, and my trainer will not let me carry a crop, so we did some speedy trotting until we turned around and went the other way. She cantered after a lot of encouragement this way, but she made me work for that canter.

She also made me work to get her to trot. She did not want to work today!!

However, this meant that when we got to jumping a little bit, she was great because she was too lazy to get nervous. We jumped a tiiiny course (6 in at the most) but she was perfect! I was so happy with it. I haven't been able to do a course of jumps without her running since... well probably ever haha. Even though they were tiny, they were still jumps that she actually jumped over and didn't just trot over. It's a huge improvement!

My trainer kept talking about how good Pepper was being, but then she would add comments like "let's wait until she starts bucking." First of all, comments like that do not help my anxiety about riding sometimes. Second of all, it kinda offends me that she always thinks of Pepper as being a horse that bucks a lot... she really doesn't buck that much!!! I mean, maybe to her she does if all her horses wonderfully behave all the time, but whatever...
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post #76 of 107 Old 11-06-2018, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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I don't think I ever posted about this (sorry if I did!) but a few weeks ago we went on a trail ride around the front of the property (usually we only go around the back) and Pepper was so brave!

I remembered this because it rained all night and now it's super wet, so I can't go ride or anything. Then I remembered how at the old barn, BO would take us on trail rides (we had a really nice trail at that barn) (also the reason she took us on the trail was so that she wouldn't have to make-up our lesson; she took us on the trail as our 'lesson') and I really miss that. But then I remembered how Pepper and I used to be terrified of the trails, and how she would never go out on the trail alone. So that reminded me of this trail and how far she's come!


Pepper is not a slow horse. She does not appreciate being stuck behind Comet on the trails, and so on this trail ride I decided to lead because I didn't want to have to constantly be slowing her down and getting her off of Comet's tail. Pepper had never been around the front of the property like we were doing (it's right beside the pasture she goes in, so she's seen it before, but never when I was on her and never this close). She was certainly curious about everything - her ears were perked forward and she was looking around! But she kept walking forward and didn't spook at anything. Well, she was not a fan of this pile of rocks and had to take an extra second to look before deciding it wasn't going to eat her, but even that was great because she trusted that I wasn't going to ask her to walk beside something that was going to eat her.

It's funny to me how horses spook at the weirdest things. She certainly didn't 'spook' at the rocks, but she wasn't a fan. But we were walking around BO's house, and she had all sorts of 'scary' things (a couple of lawn decorations, miscellaneous things beside the house, etc) that Pepper deemed okay, but not the rocks!

But she led the trail! She walked in front of the other horses (willingly!!!)


Sunday, we went on another trail ride, just around the back property, and I let Comet lead. Which meant that I had to keep stopping Pepper because she would get as close to Comet as possible. And when I stopped her, she took that as an opportunity to eat leaves off the trees. So, the whole trail ride (it's only like five minutes [maybe not even that] to walk it both ways) she had some sort of branch in her mouth. Somehow, Pepper managed to get the branch stuck in her bridle, and there was a leaf that was touching near her eye. This was spooking Pepper a little bit, but I decided to laugh about it instead of freaking out and I think that helped Pepper to not spook at the leaf on her eye.

But she wasn't going to get that branch (it wasn't like a giant branch, but still a branch of leaves) off of her face unless it was going into her mouth. So, she was walking while shaking her head and trying to eat the leaves. And somehow, she succeeded in doing this. It was funny, but it also reminded me how before now, I probably would've freaked out that she was going to spook, a and that probably would have made her spook.


I don't have school today, so I'm really bored haha. Sorry for the rambling
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post #77 of 107 Old 11-07-2018, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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It was too wet to ride today, so I groomed Pepper and hand grazed her for a while.

When I got there, she was in the round pen and not with Comet. I'm peeved that they've been separated after being put together in the first place because Pepper really hates being by herself and the round pen is somewhat secluded. Plus, the round pen is not adequate turn-out for her... it's small, super muddy, and there's no grass at all.

There are eight pastures/paddocks on the property. Four have grass and the others are just dry-lots. They also use the arena for turnout (which also bothers me but I'll get to that in a second).

On the farm, there are only ten horses. One is in a dry lot with a 'stall'/shelter thing in it. Six are in the main barn, and three are in the trainer's barn. So, ten horses for eight paddocks? And my horse has to be in the round pen? I just don't understand why she rarely puts more than one horse in a paddock at a time. These are herd animals... back at the old barn, we had one huge pasture and every single horse on the property was turned out at the same time, in the same place. The pasture was large enough that if two horses didn't like each other, they just didn't get near each other. We never really had issues with fighting. Occasionally someone would come in with a minor bite, but that was the extent of any head-related injuries.

Our trainer moved barns once at the old barn and took most of the horses with her. The barn we moved to already had horses. We just let them out to be horses, and they had a few squabbles, but after a week or so everyone learned to get along without injury. There were 11 horses, so I'm not talking about a gigantic herd. Although there was a point before we moved that there were probably 20 horses together, but my old trainer had to sell a lot of them.

I honestly prefer that to having only a few horses turned out in separate pastures. Now, I haven't done research but I feel like it's kinda common sense? In the wild, horses stay in a herd. They're herd animals. Obviously, there are some exceptions, but in general, I don't like separating horses into one or two per paddock. Also obviously, I'm not an expert so maybe there's been research done to show otherwise but still...



So all that was to say that I think all of the horses should, at the very least, be in pairs in their paddock. Today when I went, there were only two pairs of horses together. So four of the ten horses had a buddy and the other six were by themselves.

Now, they can still see at least one other horse and depending on which paddock they're in, some can interact over the fence... which is electric so they can't really get too close.

Also, since there were two pairs and one horse was in the arena, that left three pastures that Pepper could've gone in. I realized, though, that all of those pastures were the grass ones. I don't understand why Pepper can't just be on grass? They have such a strict grass schedule and I don't understand it. At every other barn that I've been to, the horses were either turned out in a grass pasture or in their stalls. There was none of this "horse in pasture 1 on this day, horse in pasture 2 on this day, etc" stuff that I don't understand. It's not like they're rotating pastures to keep the grass nice either.

So, Pepper was isolated in the round pen that was so muddy that I got like 'suctioned' to the mud trying to walk in it, (there were dry spots, but Pepper stood in the mud that was at the gate). She was separated from Comet after being put back with him. I'm going to ask why they were separated. They were together at the old barn for over six years, so I don't understand.


I had such a hard time getting her back in the round pen too after I was ready to leave. She planted her feet and did not want to walk forward. She hates being by herself. I'm sure BO knows more about horses than I do, but I know more about this specific horse than she does. And Pepper needs someone with her, whether it's another horse or another person. Before she learned to trust me, at the old barn you couldn't see the horses from the arena, therefore, trying to ride her alone was always really hard because she was sooo anxious. When I used to take her to schooling shows and to school the day before some 'C' rated shows, you couldn't leave her tied to the trailer by herself. I haven't been out to a show in a while to know if she's still like that.


Also, she is turned out in the arena a lot. So, sometimes I have to take her out of the arena where she's relaxing, groom and tack her, and then make her go back into the arena for work. I feel like this isn't good for her. Maybe she's smart enough to realize that if I go with her in the arena, it's work (whether riding or lunging) and if I let her loose and leave it's relax time. Who knows.


I need to buy myself a farm and run it myself that's the only way I'll find a barn I'm happy at!

I'm not going to leave this barn unless things get really bad or BO doesn't try to help at all with the complaints I have. I'm not going to ask her a lot, but just things like 'please don't isolate my horse'.

Sorry for rambling again
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post #78 of 107 Old 11-07-2018, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Just thought of a little side thought but I can't edit my post anymore so I'll just add another!

I decided to text Comet's owner to see if she knew why they were separated because I have a little social anxiety and texting BO makes me uncomfortable haha.

But, that got me thinking - should I even have to ask these things? If Pepper was misbehaving, I feel like she should tell me so I can do something about it, or at least so I can know.

----

While I was typing that Comet's owner texted me back. Apparently, she was the one that put them together and not BO. So, I guess my thing about separating them after putting them together is less-valid since she wasn't the one who put them together. But the rest of my 'rant' remains. Comet's owner feels the same way.

Comet's owner said that the reason BO separated them after she put them together is that BO was afraid they would start romping around and someone would get hurt... so not even fighting, but she was afraid of them playing? Like horses do? Being social? Apparently, Comet pinned his ears at Pepper because she was trying to steal some of his watermelon his owner gave him as treats. She always gives Pepper some too. But isn't this normal horse behavior? If he bites her, so what? She probably deserved it And if both me and Comet's owner agree that we understand the risks of horses being horses, then she should have no reason not to. Make us sign a contract if she's that nervous about it. But these two horses have known each other for as long as I've known either of them, and how is Comet being with Pepper any different then when he was with Anya? Comet and Pepper have always been friends; before we moved barns, he and Anya didn't really care for each other that much. They didn't dislike each other, but they were just acquaintances I guess? (I don't know how horse herds work!)

Anyways, we're going to talk to BO about keeping them together. If she says no to something we both agree too... well I might be finding somewhere else. If I have to, I'll go back to the barn where the bad BO was at - that BO has practically fallen off the planet, and the lady that owns the barn will not have anything to do with her. One of my friends stayed there too. But at least I know how she'll be cared for and that she'll get actual social interaction with other horses...
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post #79 of 107 Old 11-07-2018, 08:26 PM
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I obviously don't know what your board agreement/contract says, but since you said that typically the other horses are turned out alone, maybe BO likes keeping horses separated to prevent injury and not have to worry as much about dealing with herd dynamics? A horse who's a bully to others can be hard to find herdmates he'll mesh with, and possibly instead of the BO having to shuffle horses around to find a compatible group (which is a big trial and error situation, potentially) she finds it easier to just keep them all separate and not have to worry about it. Personally that seems like a lazy way of dealing with it but just another way of looking at it. I wholeheartedly agree that horses should be turned out with others, but there are reasons to keep them separate sometimes.

I think it will be good for you and Comet's owner to visit with the BO. A contract of sorts allowing your horses to be together might be an easy fix, but I definitely understand the consideration of moving if your horses aren't allowed to be pastured together or with others. Good luck! :)
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post #80 of 107 Old 11-08-2018, 10:09 AM
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A lot of interesting questions here, but it really does boil down to the fact that you are boarding. It will always be a compromise - unless you luck out - and you are correct as to being able to ask questions and even go to another barn, because you are the paying customer here, but in the end the rules will be up to the barn owner.

The only way out is to concentrate on your career so that you can afford to get your own place. I was in my mid 40's before I was able to do so, and it really does make a huge impact on your relationship with your horse.
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