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Discussion Starter #63
i return to report some interesting news, regarding tyra's leg and a sad bit about our farrier.

today had highs and lows, about 50/50 on each side. This morning started out with an appointment with my farrier, who has shod my horse for two straight years. I have had a total of 5 farrier work on tyra, and after one severely lamed her I remain reserved about switching too often. Our current farrier knows her entire medical and soundness history. All in all, he is a good guy but has severe anger management problems. He is quick to assume horses are out to hurt him and if he doesn't cover his butt he will get hurt. while i understand being a farrier is a dangerous profession, sometimes his reactions and expectations are just... extreme.

Tyra has a lot of trust issues with farrier and people and I am constantly trying get her comfortable with others. Her and Tim do not get along. I trust her instincts and intuition, but while I know very well how much Tyra hates our farrier, he has also been able to keep her sound the longest. No, he's not the best, but he's not the worst and he gives me a great rate. He was the apprentice of one of the top farriers in our state. His approach is slow and steady and will take as it takes to get the job done correctly. My farrier sees his job as more of an art than a science.

However, Tyra has a lot of wonky back end issues. She cannot tolerate standing still for long periods of time. Holding her leg cocked out causes her numbness and pain. She often pulls back - slowly - but it terrifies Tim and over the years his reactions have been as extreme as his mood swings. Some appointments he is on top of the world, other times he is stressed and has little patience for my special needs horse.

Today he took things too far, and he knows next time he lets his emotions get the better of him he is fired. His money issues are apparent. Clients are dropping like flies and he is struggling to pay his bills. He can't lose me as a client - I pay on time, IN CASH, and I have given him too many breaks when others would have dropped him on the spot. I do care about him, but I also care about my horse, and as big of an a*ss as he can be as a human being, he has brought my horse back from the brinks of pasture sound.

Tyra doesn't like the hammer going quickly on her feet. The vibrations bother her. Tim must have accidentally quicked her because all of a sudden I hear screaming and Tyra's yanked her foot quickly away from him. He roars, and whirls around and hits my horse hard on the hind end with his rasp. Enough for her to bolt forward out of the cross ties and start dancing around behind me. I go to her and immediately start calming her down. I am not someone who gets visibly angry, but in a very serious and dark voice I tell him, "please don't ever hit my horse again."

"She tried to kick me!" He insists.

"No. She was scared. She has SI and stifle issues - you know this. You need to be more patient with her." I look at her croup. There is a visible mark where the seraded edge of the rasp has cut into her skin. I walk her out, and she's slightly favoring that leg. "You've lamed her."

"Give her to me," he says, his voice now quiet. I can tell he feels bad, but I am too scared he is going to wail on her, so I hold the lead tight and tell him no. He insists and reluctantly I hand him the lead rope, on edge and ready to pull her away from him.

Tim pets her nose softly. At first Tyra pulls away, but lowers her head with a soft blow of relaxation. I'm still very upset, shaking with rage as I cross my arms over my chest in an effort to contain myself. "She didn't try to kick you. She was just scared."

We put her back in the cross ties. I whisper to Tyra and pet her neck. I know her trust in people has only just blossomed, and I don't want her bad feelings of Tim to get worse. "I just don't want her to be afraid of you," I tell him. "These appointments stress me out, and that stresses her out..."

"I know. I'm trying, I just don't want to get cut."

"I understand, but please try and be sympathetic towards her. I am doing all I can. She sees a chiro once a month. I am very attentive about her lameness. We aren't jumping anymore, so her SI should be less painful." I frown. "All they did at the track is tie her leg to a post and slap on the shoes. She'd never stood for a real farrier before I bought her."

We reset her and try again. Surprisingly, Tyra is not stressed or upset despite being hit with the rasp. Tim tries something else. Instead of slamming the nails in quickly, he gives one full second per swing of the hammer.

Magically, Tyra does not move. She doesn't even flinch. "I think we've found out what's wrong. She doesn't like it when you hammer the nails in too fast. The vibrations scare her."

Thanks, Captain Obvious.

After he finished, I did give him a $10 tip for being willing to work around her issues. We talked and I told him I was no longer upset, and that I appreciated that he was trying, but I did tell him if he ever takes a tool to Tyra again it will be his last. Her croup is OK - nothing some antibiotic ointment won't cure.

Anyone else would have dumped his butt on the spot. But I am not willing to go through a new relationship with a farrier I don't know and who doesn't know Tyra.

Now that the sesamoid is on my mind, I decided to take a break from the arena and go on some more trail adventures. We are currently practicing the long on-property trail. It has two great canter spots and quite a few long paths for trotting. To the left is an open field unclaimed, and to the right is the retirement pasture. The pasture is for retirees ONLY, and retirees of previously sound horses that boarded on the farm. These horses are not allowed to be ridden - they tell me it is because they want it as a pure retirement board.

I was able to take Tyra on a long rein the entire ride. Not a single spook. Her version of spooking is a muscle tremble underneath me. Anything bigger than that and it's serious business. My own attitude REALLY makes a difference. If I sit deep, relaxed and loose, the spooking NEVER escalates past a moment of hesitation and tension. Forward is the secret. When tyra is unsure, she will balk and suck back. Kicking her on and making sure our pace is lively prevents any naughty behavior.

The first loop we walked, the second loop we trotted. I tried to incorporate some collected work, but she was in heat and her back wasn't cooperating with us, so rounding up wasn't easy for her. All her seasonal symptoms are physical - she has almost no flirtatious or sexual behavior, only cramping and soreness along her croup and lower back. When she is in heat I must be very sensitive about my seat and my posture. Too deep and she kicks out. Too light and I lose my balance.

I decided to push the envelope. Tyra was giving me signs she was done for the day, but we had only been under saddle for less than half an hour. I decided to go down the trail the two of us knew very well, but unfortunately, today was spring cleaning for the stable hands and a ton of junk lined the path, junk that was familiar but in new positions. Pair that with commotion happening at the house below the pastures and our "worry cups" were filling fast.

I tried three times to get tyra past the junk piles. The first time I let her stop and look, and she promptly spun around before I could stop her. The second time I let her look but prevented her from backing up with my legs and reins, but that seemed to make it worse because she started throwing her head, a sign that she's serious about how she feels and that I should back off. The third time I tried to kick on and insist we move past the objects. She balked, and no matter how hard I kicked she would not move. Finally, she took three steps before promptly spinning right around and climbing the steep side of the hill to get away from the junk. It was my fault. I felt tension and nervousness creep in and dropped my assertive energy. She took full advantage and used that as a back door out of the situation I had been forcing her to face. Knowing I didn't have the emotional strength to try again, I decided I would take her word for it and let it be what it was - we would try when there wasn't so many noises to spook us both.

I took her back and tucked her in for the night, fed her grain and filled her bucket with her alfalfa cube snacks. Tomorrow I have some excellent new to share about her fracture and the vet's new take on the issue.
 

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#1 I would have fired the farrier and found another. I do not permit the farrier to discipline my horses, that's why I'm there holding them. If they do something bad, I'll fix it, not him. I've fired farriers for a LOT less than that guy did to your horse.

#2 Next time, get off and lead her past whatever is bothering her, especially when you KNOW it's just familiar stuff moved to a new (threatening) position and let her figure out that it's not going to eat her when she's not in a position to dump you. 9 times out of 10, if I'll just lead them through the obstacle course, then get back on and ride them through right away, the issue resolves itself.

Can't wait to hear what the vet says about her leg.
 

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Discussion Starter #65 (Edited)
#1 I would have fired the farrier and found another. I do not permit the farrier to discipline my horses, that's why I'm there holding them. If they do something bad, I'll fix it, not him. I've fired farriers for a LOT less than that guy did to your horse.
Trying to get rid of this guy is like a dog trying to shake a cling-on off... plus I have called around and I can't find anyone who will give me the same rate as him. Still trying! Still very angry about yesterday. I'm his only client at our barn so I'm easy to lose... but for some reason he makes me feel so guilty if I even try to say i'm "looking" at other possibilities. It's like trying to break up with a bad boyfriend who swears this time is the last and he'll never do it again. SIGH...

And you're right about the holding. He also will not do her unless I am there. Again he's terrified she's going to kick him which she WON'T, but she knows he is not a nice person. I definitely believe horses see deeper into people than we do. It's frustrating because he is one of the best but so many other farriers have made her lame. He's the only one who has done this reconstruction of her feet and kept her sound. I am going to try calling around and getting different opinions. He's more on an on-call base. Things ended on a weird note and we didn't schedule an appt for the next cycle. I think he's low-key telling me he's done, but I wish he would have TOLD ME to my face so I could find a new guy.

And I thought about getting off and walking her past it but that's been my default for when I get nervous. I was trying to do things under saddle which I am less comfortable with. It was more about me not feeding the beast of fear by choosing not to get off. I will definitely try again today and if we still have the same issues (which we probably will because i let her run away 3 times and now she thinks she knows the game), i'll "cheat" and get off. <3
 

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i have smacked my horse with a rasp handle in the belly for leaning HARD on me but to leave a mark like that WITH a rasp? i have some SOUND advice for you and its what i did. learn to trim yourself. even learn to shoe yourself but if she is not in hard work barefoot should not hurt her. I only recently hires a coworker as a farrier (he is a good farrier, he just also has a day job) to trim my 4 because im pregnant and i dont have the energy to do it myself and the bigger i get, the more impossible it will be. He understood that my 33 year old, while he is more limber than horses 10 years younger, still has SOME stiffness in his hind end and cant hold his leg as high. farrier saw that, re adjusted and they got along wonderfully. my arab has some SI joint issues. so when she tried to shake her leg out of his grasp (not violently either, just im protest) he re adjusted her and they worked out well.

dont give up!
 

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Trying to get rid of this guy is like a dog trying to shake a cling-on off... plus I have called around and I can't find anyone who will give me the same rate as him. Still trying! Still very angry about yesterday. I'm his only client at our barn so I'm easy to lose... but for some reason he makes me feel so guilty if I even try to say i'm "looking" at other possibilities. It's like trying to break up with a bad boyfriend who swears this time is the last and he'll never do it again. SIGH...

And you're right about the holding. He also will not do her unless I am there. Again he's terrified she's going to kick him which she WON'T, but she knows he is not a nice person. I definitely believe horses see deeper into people than we do. It's frustrating because he is one of the best but so many other farriers have made her lame. He's the only one who has done this reconstruction of her feet and kept her sound. I am going to try calling around and getting different opinions. He's more on an on-call base. Things ended on a weird note and we didn't schedule an appt for the next cycle. I think he's low-key telling me he's done, but I wish he would have TOLD ME to my face so I could find a new guy.

And I thought about getting off and walking her past it but that's been my default for when I get nervous. I was trying to do things under saddle which I am less comfortable with. It was more about me not feeding the beast of fear by choosing not to get off. I will definitely try again today and if we still have the same issues (which we probably will because i let her run away 3 times and now she thinks she knows the game), i'll "cheat" and get off. <3
Here's the thing with these 'anger management' guys. They'll promise you the moon and stars and then will lose it and beat your horse again. Conceivably, he could lose his temper and take it out on you too. When you say, "Next time ......... is the last time." and you don't follow through, you have given him permission to mistreat your horse because he knows you won't do anything about it. The last farrier I had that I couldn't warm up to drugged my mare without my permission. This mare has always been an angel for the farrier but this guy......not. She never would stand properly for him and I was going to let him go if we had issues again that day. She started to dance and I was just ready to say, "OK this isn't working out. Thank you for your time." and let him go when she all of a sudden dropped her head and got all slack lipped. I said, "What did you do to my horse?" and he said, "I gave her detomidine to make her behave." That was the end of it. Leave it to say that he left running down my driveway, left his coat and tools and never came back for them. I had warned him once about being too rough with them the last time he came and then he did that. END OF STORY. I've seen him around, and he's still a very good farrier with lots of knowledge but he will NEVER touch one of my horses again.

What you need to do with your mare is, don't let her get scared to begin with. Once she goes "up" then you go "UP-ER" and she reads your body language and she escalates. Don't even try to ride past the stuff today, walk her up to each pile let her sniff and get over it. THEN get on her and ride her through. You have to let go of your distrust for it to work though. If you tense up even a little bit, she's going to feel it and act accordingly. And I KNOW this is all a lot easier to say than to do. I still have flashbacks to my bad accidents when Patti gets "up" about something. What I've learned to do is to redirect her feet until she puts her attention back on me, not go near whatever was scary, until she's focused on me AND I have let go of any tension. Then we walk past it as many times as it takes. And it may take a while. You may have to walk up to the first pile 10 times before she'll go past it. An exercise that I like is to do circles. Start out with a small circle far enough away that she's not bothered and then increase your circles so that she walks closer to the pile every time, but don't make the pile the focus. Make riding with her slightly flexed and turning so she crosses her hind legs over and steps way up under herself your focus. Just every time you try the circle, move it 1 or 2 feet closer to the "boogey pile" until she's circling right by it and doesn't even notice it. Then move so she's circling around the "boogey pile" and work on getting closer to the next one once the first one is not an issue anymore.
 

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I meant to add, there's no such thing as "cheating" when you're working with a horse who is having fear problems, especially when you are also having fear problems. The goal is for both of you to be safe and to eventually make the scary thing not so scary. She sounds like she's always going to be finding a "boogey object" of some kind, so you're going to have to learn how to ride her startles and spooks out, but you don't have to do it all in one day.

A thing that I have found useful for calming ME down is to go home and visualize whatever went wrong that ride. I replay in my mind the way things went wrong and concentrate on how I feel, loss of control, fear, anger, sadness, whatever went on at that moment. I practice letting go of all of it, it was in the past, I regained control, I'm no longer angry at myself for losing control, whatever I've been feeling about the incident. Then I replay the incident and go over in my mind what I will do NEXT time the horse spooks/shies/bolts/bucks/rears and how I will stay in control of the situation and I concentrate on the positive feelings that that generates. I am in control, that makes me happy, I'm not afraid, I'm not angry, I'm not sad, I'm not defeated. I do it over and over until I can replay the incident without any response to it at all.

When I first started doing that with the accident, I would suck back in the chair, get very rigid, and I'd shake and tear up and start chewing on my cuticles. As time went on, I found I could replay it and not have the emotional and physical responses to it. Then I started thinking of how I might have shut down a horse that does that in the future. I play in my mind that I finished dismounting and was on the ground when he bolted, thus I never got hurt. I sat down hard and pulled his head around to my knee (one rein stop) and shut him down before he hit the end of the arena. I was able to turn him and let him run himself out. All things that COULD have happened to give me a better outcome if something like that happens again. Because bottom line, at 61 years old, I am not going to be doing the "flying dismount" again. My poor beat old body just can't take that again.

The other day, we were riding in the indoor and someone kicked a stall wall and it scared Patti. She squirted underneath me and took off (very slowly and in control compared to the horse that hurt me) and I was able to sit down, pump one rein and get her flexed and started pumping half halts and it only took about 3 little half halts and she stopped dead. Never offered to bolt/buck or anything at all. She took about 3 running steps and it was over. And you know what? I had a mini flashback to the accident, but I immediately applied the fixes that I hadn't been able to during the accident and it solved the problem. I also was not shaking, wasn't crying, wasn't hyperventilating and I never needed to get off of her. In the beginning, when I first started riding again, I had to get off and "ground" myself very literally. This time I rode it out and discovered that I was A-OK with what just happened. My trainer wanted to pop a bottle of champagne she was so happy. It WAS a pretty big moment. Point is, I never felt like I was "cheating" when I had to get off the horse. Better I get off, process what just happened and get back on, than to have another negative incident and keep having negative incidents, until I decided to quit riding all together. And that's exactly what I don't want, to quit riding.
 

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Discussion Starter #69
@Dreamcatcher Arabians, thanks dreamie. that makes me feel better. my former cohorts made me feel extremely guilty for getting off and being weak. It's nice to know I can now.

I am so frustrated and angry I could spit. I don't know who I am madder at, myself or Tyra. Today was just a total clustercluck of crud. I think the reason she is being so difficult is she is in heat. She's been kicking out her back leg a lot when she's standing, and that's a symptom that her hind end is a bit sore. I know these signs, I also know when it's a colic kick vs. an ulcer kick vs. a heat kick.

This horse is probably the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to me. I was going to write a post today about my stall cleaning, but I'm in a mood and upset so I will write about our ride today. Getting to ride my friend's "problem child" of a mare really made me see what end of the scale tyra is. If Missy is considered "hard" by most standards and difficult to train, Tyra must be near impossible. Missy was a BREEZE. This mare's version of intimidation is to throw her head up and trot very fast, but the minute you ask for collection it's a short conversation. This mare can EASILY be kicked and bullied into submission - not that I was, I was just noticing this. it took very little effort on my part to get her into an engaged jog. Missy threw a few threatening buck humps but sending her forward ended the conversation like that. With tyra, going forward only encourages MORE problems. It's like all the doors are closed, you will listen to what she says or you are quickly ejected from her back.

Riding Tyra is a privilege, not a right, and you must earn your badge and place in her "good book." As bizarre as it sounds, I swear to you it's the truth. If missy, a horse who i'd never been on, gave me a "fight" and gave me allowance into her horsey mind just like that? What does that say about Tyra?

It almost makes me want to cry, because of how much I have to grovel and beg and plead with her just to get her to do basic riding maneuvers for me. Walk to trot? Maybe. But if she suspects you are in any kind of "do it or else" mind set, she won't trot. Use the dressage whip? "Oh, you wanted a trot? OK. Let me show you how the standardbreds do it. Oh, is this too fast for you? Well you wanted a trot. Ok then, if you're done... BYE BYE!" and she will promptly explode into a bucking fit. and I mean EXPLODE. You have no time to disengage any body part. It's ride her into a wall or hang on and wait for her to stop. If you're lucky, she won't twist and REALLY get you off.

I have done every single ulcer treatment. Saddle fit. EVERYTHING. Once you can prove to her your intentions are not harmful, she will allow you GRACIOUSLY into her life.

She is the most opinionated, trust-forsaken, emotionally injured and damaged horse I have ever, ever had the pleasure/mispleasure of encountering.

I'll never give up on her. I know at this point most would sell her on. But I LOVE her. I love her so, so much. And I have come too far to throw in the towel now.

So I will wait. And I will stay. And as I write this I am crying because I can only hope one day, she opens her eyes and sees I'm still here. After everyone else has left her and let her down, I'm still here. And I'll always be here, to take care of her and feed her and treat her injuries. I'm never going to abuse her or hurt her. I wish this horse could talk, because I am sure there is a lot she could say, a lot we are better off not knowing.

I feel like mustangs on the wild range find trust in humans quicker than this horse has. I am so sorry, Tyra, that humans have let you down. But this human isn't. One day when i am a rich woman I will build a barn in her honor, with a beautiful and cozy stall leading to the most gorgeous pasture she's ever witnessed.

I have trust issues too, and I know how hard it is to let go and open your heart again. I love her with every fiber of my being and I show her every day. Little by little I am chipping away at the stone that has become her soul.

Hopefully will have better news to report tomorrow.
 

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@Dreamcatcher Arabians, thanks dreamie. that makes me feel better. my former cohorts made me feel extremely guilty for getting off and being weak. It's nice to know I can now.

I am so frustrated and angry I could spit. I don't know who I am madder at, myself or Tyra. Today was just a total clustercluck of crud. I think the reason she is being so difficult is she is in heat. She's been kicking out her back leg a lot when she's standing, and that's a symptom that her hind end is a bit sore. I know these signs, I also know when it's a colic kick vs. an ulcer kick vs. a heat kick.

This horse is probably the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to me. I was going to write a post today about my stall cleaning, but I'm in a mood and upset so I will write about our ride today. Getting to ride my friend's "problem child" of a mare really made me see what end of the scale tyra is. If Missy is considered "hard" by most standards and difficult to train, Tyra must be near impossible. Missy was a BREEZE. This mare's version of intimidation is to throw her head up and trot very fast, but the minute you ask for collection it's a short conversation. This mare can EASILY be kicked and bullied into submission - not that I was, I was just noticing this. it took very little effort on my part to get her into an engaged jog. Missy threw a few threatening buck humps but sending her forward ended the conversation like that. With tyra, going forward only encourages MORE problems. It's like all the doors are closed, you will listen to what she says or you are quickly ejected from her back.

Riding Tyra is a privilege, not a right, and you must earn your badge and place in her "good book." As bizarre as it sounds, I swear to you it's the truth. If missy, a horse who i'd never been on, gave me a "fight" and gave me allowance into her horsey mind just like that? What does that say about Tyra?

It almost makes me want to cry, because of how much I have to grovel and beg and plead with her just to get her to do basic riding maneuvers for me. Walk to trot? Maybe. But if she suspects you are in any kind of "do it or else" mind set, she won't trot. Use the dressage whip? "Oh, you wanted a trot? OK. Let me show you how the standardbreds do it. Oh, is this too fast for you? Well you wanted a trot. Ok then, if you're done... BYE BYE!" and she will promptly explode into a bucking fit. and I mean EXPLODE. You have no time to disengage any body part. It's ride her into a wall or hang on and wait for her to stop. If you're lucky, she won't twist and REALLY get you off.

I have done every single ulcer treatment. Saddle fit. EVERYTHING. Once you can prove to her your intentions are not harmful, she will allow you GRACIOUSLY into her life.

She is the most opinionated, trust-forsaken, emotionally injured and damaged horse I have ever, ever had the pleasure/mispleasure of encountering.

I'll never give up on her. I know at this point most would sell her on. But I LOVE her. I love her so, so much. And I have come too far to throw in the towel now.

So I will wait. And I will stay. And as I write this I am crying because I can only hope one day, she opens her eyes and sees I'm still here. After everyone else has left her and let her down, I'm still here. And I'll always be here, to take care of her and feed her and treat her injuries. I'm never going to abuse her or hurt her. I wish this horse could talk, because I am sure there is a lot she could say, a lot we are better off not knowing.

I feel like mustangs on the wild range find trust in humans quicker than this horse has. I am so sorry, Tyra, that humans have let you down. But this human isn't. One day when i am a rich woman I will build a barn in her honor, with a beautiful and cozy stall leading to the most gorgeous pasture she's ever witnessed.

I have trust issues too, and I know how hard it is to let go and open your heart again. I love her with every fiber of my being and I show her every day. Little by little I am chipping away at the stone that has become her soul.

Hopefully will have better news to report tomorrow.
#1 Anyone who belittles you for doing what you need to do to feel safe needs to be kicked forcefully to the curb, pronto. No excuses, no "I didn't mean it"s, just get gone now. It is never acceptable to belittle or denigrate someone who is having fear issues. When anyone opens their mouth like that around me, I hop off and hand them the reins. 99.999% of the time they say, "What? I'M not going to ride that mare!". The .001% who actually will try to ride her get dumped. Put up or shut up and get out of my space.

#2 Let go of the anger and frustration. That's never going to be a place where you and she will make progress. If you suspect she's sore, then give her some bute or banamine or don't ride her. She's not going to learn if she's hurting.

#3 My first horse ever was an OTTB who had a beast of a jockey and had retaliated. They were going to put him "on the truck". My parents saw how he was with me and decided to keep him, and we did amazing things together. He was NOT an easy horse by any means. He bolted, he bucked, he shied, he reared and then he jumped. Oh my could that boy jump! Once we started jumping together, all the bad behavior quit. He would jump for the joy of it. He is the horse I rode on trails, swam in the lake with, raced out on dirt roads in the desert, rode on a 25 mile March of Dimes Walkathon, showed on Saturday, trail rode on Sunday and then rode him to school on Monday. But it took YEARS for us to develop that kind of relationship and you NEVER ever could pull back with both reins. So when I tell you to sit down, tell her Whoa, and start getting her flexed, I'm talking from BTDT. When I quit riding OTTBs and switched to Arabs, they were a cakewalk in comparison, but a lot of the lessons I learned on Boozer still applied.

#4 Riding ANY horse worth their salt is a privilege and not a right. You have to convince them that you are worthy. The beat down old geldings will allow anyone to ride them, a blood horse knows who she is and knows who and what she'll allow and what she won't. You have to come up to their standards and find what they love to do. Once you do that, then things will calm down considerably. Notice I never said perfect, that's just not going to happen. Especially with an opinionated mare.

#5 Horses live in the moment. She's not being abused now and she's being fed well now and that is all that matters to her. She doesn't care if you're "there" for her, she cares that you treat her fairly. And yes, sometimes being fair means giving her a good kick or whipping. Not past the point of no return, but a good swift, "I'M IN CHARGE HERE!" thing, the way a more dominant herd mate would do it. "Hurt them before they hurt you" is the antiquated old way of doing things that got more horses and people hurt than you can count. Be as soft as you can be and as hard as you MUST be to let the horse know that you are in charge.

#6 My Patti is very much like Tyra, and I've had her since she was a weanling, so I KNOW she's never been abused or mistreated. She can get very emotional and when worried she gets UP. Her head goes up, she swells up until she feels like an 18 hand WB instead of a 16 hh Saddlebred. She gets BIG and then her stride gets BIG or conversely, if I grab her face, she minces and takes eensy teensy steps (which makes her very hard to ride). When she drops that head and gets round, ohmygosh, there is no bigger pleasure than to ride her. When she gets emotional, we can seriously have some dancing going on. She'll paw, she'll go backwards, she'll go in circles, she'll sweat, she'll blow and when we've worked thought it all, she'll put her head down and blow out and then we go on as if nothing has happened. I absolutely wouldn't trade her for all of King Midas's gold. She is one of 2 horses that has NEVER been for sale. So, I get where you're coming from with Tyra. But quit trying to put human memories, emotions on her, she is a horse and thinks like a horse does. Let her be her bossy, opinionated self. Learn to work with that horse and learn to trust that she might have something worthwhile to say. She is never going to lay down and quit being a boss mare, it's just not who she was bred to be.
 

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@Dreamcatcher Arabians, your post was very heartfelt. You might find my feelings a bit ridiculous and yes I’m amphomorphizing this situation but I do that with all my animals. People who think animals react solely based on instinct alone are ignorant and blocking themselves off to the feelings and emotions of another creature. It’s the same as saying “people are going to think what they think and I can’t do anything about it.” That’s an excuse not to change, not to do better, because you can’t or aren’t willing to get into the psyche of someone who is upset at you or who you don’t agree with. Until you are able to open yourself to the possibility of mentally walking in someone else’s shoes you will remain angry and resentful of people who upset you.

Whenever something happened that she didn’t like or didn’t understand my old barn owner used to throw her hands up and say “it is what it is” and leave it at that. I found it a huge cop out. It was an excuse for her not to try and understand the situation or make it better, an excuse not to change.

People who believe the world should revolve around them instead of finding a way to at least help the world keep spinning are the ones I want to specifically direct this reply to.

Most of us who were raised around horses or rode horses young were taught that you > the horse. It wasn’t a partnership, it was a dictatorship. The horse has to listen 100%. The horse wasn’t allowed to have an opinion or disagree with their rider.

Then you have the opposite end of the spectrum where humans believe too strongly that the horse should be the dominant personality in the relationship. The horse as a creature has been suppressed or oppressed by humans and deserves to be set free and liberated, spiritually or otherwise. Riding is cruel. HorseCare also is cruel but necessary to enjoy the animal you love. If the horse has an opinion, ie drag you to a patch of grass, you just go with them because they have a voice and should be listened to.

I would say I fall somewhere in the middle. If the right is 100% subservience and the left is 100% freedom, id be more left leaning. I believe horses are individuals first and should at most strive to be partners, not subjects. There are those I know who feel a horse should be completely submissive, like the lady who helped me work with Tyra, and then those who gave the horse too much liberty, like my friend who almost got killed by her 4 year old ottb baby because she refused to set down the relationship rules with him, and he took full advantage of her weakness.

I’ve been riding a long time. Not as long as some people on this forum, but that’s only because I am not that old. I’ve gone from believing you can beat the horse into doing anything to becoming a lot like my friend, to finally swinging somewhere in the middle. People say animals live in the moment, but how do you explain the rescue dog who, after 4 years with its loving family, still hides at the jingling sound of his owner threading a belt through the keepers on his jeans? Or the bird who plucks his feathers even after being given toys and freedom out of his cage? Or the child who grows into a man after surviving a horrifically abusive household, and then begins beating his wife? Is it really that hard to believe that trauma affects more than just people?

Tyra is long out of her race training, but when she was born it was all she knew. It’s all she was bred to know. If a horse is jogging at 2 mph ahead of us, the excuse to “catch up” isn’t the first thing that jumps to mind. That horse had jogged ahead of us on different parts of the trail and Tyra barely lifted her head out of her walk.

It was because she jogged by the scary junk pile. Suddenly it become imperative that we stay with the jogging horse, because this specific spot meant danger. but ANY spot on the trail could be “dangerous,” but Tyra wasn’t convinced it was something to worry about because I was not tense.

She was the only tense being out of 4 next to the junk pile. She didn’t care how relaxed and chill I was. I had totally forgotten about the junk pile and truly believed she would be as calm as she was on the other parts of the trail.

But she was CONVINCED this was a dangerous place. And it didn’t matter how I felt about it, if I didn’t share her fear she’d leave me in the dust to get away.

And that is what I am talking about. There are moments when she trusts me, and moments when she only trusts herself. And where I continue to get upset is at the notion that “give it time, she will come around” or “you need to have her submit to you.”

I’ve given her time and I am not willing to break her spirit. The next option is to learn how to deal with her insecurities and WAIT for her to realize that she doesn’t have to be “boss mare” anymore. She is actually very low on the pasture hierarchy. In shows nothing fazes her. New places don’t spook her. This behavior isolates itself to trail riding, and even more specifically the RARE moment where she is convinced she can’t be saved.

Most horses will look to their human for guidance and comfort. This horse does not.
 

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@thecolorcoal I don't find anything you say ridiculous. I do find that you're anthropomorphizing the horse and making excuses for bad behavior (the farrier & horse). What I'm saying to you is not that she can't have some PTSD from the track, she certainly can. Boozer sure did. He never allowed another male on his back after he got me. He'd toss 'em in a heartbeat. They do have learned behaviors from past trauma. What I'm saying though is, she's not being abused now, so don't treat her like she's broken. The more you do, the more she will be.

Every horse is different. Some are different from year to year, some from day to day and others from minute to minute. You have to learn to ride that horse that you're astride at that moment. NO horse will ever be the PERFECT horse. A horse is a living, breathing, sentient creature who loves, hates, fears and can be brave in the face of fear, and is amazingly adaptable to the demands we put on it. Think about it. A herd animal who was born to be prey to some predator allows a predator to climb on its back (the position another predator would take to kill it) and then lets said predator ride it away from its safety zone. And then something happens. An animal pops up out of nowhere, a shiny gum wrapper comes blowing down the trail (aggressively running at the horse), somebody lets go of a load of buckshot in close proximity, there's a pile of stuff in an area where it's never been before, you fill in the blanks with whatever scenario works for you, and that horse with the predator on its back, loses it for a minute or 2. The surprise is that it hasn't lost it earlier, more often and for longer duration. They are hardwired to run first and ask questions later. That's kept them alive for 1000s of years. It isn't ever going to completely be erased, which is why most old horse people will tell you that there's no such thing as a bomb proof horse. EVERY horse will blow under the right set of circumstances. We just have to learn to mitigate the circumstances and deal with the blow up when it happens.

NO horse will look to its rider for guidance 100% of the time. Not gonna happen. And ESPECIALLY when that rider is as green on trail as the horse, the horse is going to act first and question 2nd. And in that instance, yes, you're going to get left in the dust if you try to fight that battle right then. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to ride it out and circle back to the scary thing and work on it from a safe distance. That horse WILL walk through fire for you but a pool noodle on an obstacle over head may cause her to come unhinged. Totally makes NO sense to us, but that's just the way it is. So, we buy pool noodles and put them in various places and configurations and work past the fear with the horse. And then you'll ride past a broken branch hanging out of a tree and the horse will lose it again. EVEN IF YOU'RE RELAXED and not tensed up. And based on everything you've said about your feeling on trail, I'm going to say that your relaxed is still tense compared to how you ride in the arena. She reads that. And if the predator is scared, then the prey better be REALLY scared.

Your horse is anxious and insecure and because you are fearful when out on trail, she's not looking for you to be her leader because in horse logic, you're more scared than she is so she's gotta step up and keep both of you safe. And sometimes that's not a bad thing. Patti and I got in a discussion once where she absolutely would not, beat me til my hair falls off still not gonna, cross this big muddy patch and we had to go back quite a ways to find a way around it. Well, it's a good thing I lost that argument, turns out the mud patch was really quicksand. She trusts me, most of the time she'll do what I say and do it happily, but when she doesn't I've learned to listen. I've also learned that I still have to desensitize her to things every day. And she still gets scared. When that horse kicked the wall yesterday, she squirted out from under me and was on her way AWAY from whatever it was, but when I sat down and started pumping the brakes, she came back to me and we got stopped. But her FIRST inclination was to run and she did. She didn't stop and say, "HIMMM that was a scary noise. Hay Human what should I do?". She ran, then let me tell her it's ok, nothing is chasing you, nothing is going to eat you. But I had to stick with her to get her to do that.

I don't believe in breaking any horse's spirit, I find that to practically be a criminal offense. She may just be too high strung to be a good trail horse. Back in the day, I had Lady B and I used to say she was the best and the worst trail horse ever. Best because she could go all day in any terrain under any conditions. Worst because she really was happier in the arena where she wouldn't get mud on her pedicure and where she KNEW there were no Boogers waiting to jump out at her. Every trail ride on her was an adventure and every time I swore was the last one. I finally found another Arab who LOVED going out and exploring and let Lady stay home and only rode her in the arena and at shows. We were both happier.

I agree with most of the others that you're over horsed with Tyra. I don't think that's an incurable situation, but I do think you need to realize that you have what you have and that may never change, so you will have to. You're going to have to learn to deal with her idiosyncrasies and ride it out, in the process improving your riding abilities a lot from where they are today, and growing your confidence in you AND her. In the long run, she's going to make a lot better rider out of you. But you're going to have to let go of your preconceptions and frustrations and anger or you're not going to learn anything. You may end up deciding that she's just not a trail horse. There's nothing wrong with that.
 

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I agree with most of the others that you're over horsed with Tyra. I don't think that's an incurable situation, but I do think you need to realize that you have what you have and that may never change, so you will have to. You're going to have to learn to deal with her idiosyncrasies and ride it out, in the process improving your riding abilities a lot from where they are today, and growing your confidence in you AND her. In the long run, she's going to make a lot better rider out of you. But you're going to have to let go of your preconceptions and frustrations and anger or you're not going to learn anything. You may end up deciding that she's just not a trail horse. There's nothing wrong with that.

This is exactly my point and where I need help. I don't know how. Some days I know what I am doing and others I am completely lost. I don't know who to turn to for advice. Is it training? Is it books? Is it this forum?


I just want to find a way we can work as a team together. I am someone who must understand things to their molecular level in order to finally accept them. And there are things I am just not understanding about this horse. I need someone to talk me through what is happening and why. That is why I always become upset and post, I just need someone with experience and knowledge to sit me down and tell me why a b and c happened. That's why I am jumping to human psychology - it is what I understand. If I can speak of tyra in that way maybe I will finally get some insight into the situation.


I don't think the answer is a bigger bit, or an anti-buck device, or a running martingale, or rollkuring her, or suppressing her in some way. I could do that, I could MAKE her manageable on the trails, but it would ruin the trust and relationship we have built and eventually she would turn on me. They all do.
 

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This is exactly my point and where I need help. I don't know how. Some days I know what I am doing and others I am completely lost. I don't know who to turn to for advice. Is it training? Is it books? Is it this forum?


I just want to find a way we can work as a team together. I am someone who must understand things to their molecular level in order to finally accept them. And there are things I am just not understanding about this horse. I need someone to talk me through what is happening and why. That is why I always become upset and post, I just need someone with experience and knowledge to sit me down and tell me why a b and c happened. That's why I am jumping to human psychology - it is what I understand. If I can speak of tyra in that way maybe I will finally get some insight into the situation.


I don't think the answer is a bigger bit, or an anti-buck device, or a running martingale, or rollkuring her, or suppressing her in some way. I could do that, I could MAKE her manageable on the trails, but it would ruin the trust and relationship we have built and eventually she would turn on me. They all do.
You need a real, Swear To God, professional trainer who will give you some lessons and teach you how to handle your horse. Not some backyardigan who THINKS they know how to ride and handle a horse, a true pro. Even 1 lesson/week would help you immensely.

Human psychology will never work on the horse, they just don't think like us. What you CAN do though, is to learn about how they DO think and how to work within those parameters. We can help you some here on the forum and you can read a lot, but 90% of riding is not head knowledge, it's muscle memory from doing things over and over and over again. 10% is head knowledge and in the thick of things, isn't going to be real useful to you at that moment. Getting the right feel in your seat bones, seeing how she reacts to being flexed and having you use a half halt on her, suppling her, and things like that will teach you the way your horse reacts. Learning how to control each part of the horse, head, neck, shoulders, rib cage, hip, hind quarter and being able to get that horse to move those when asked will do a lot for you to feel in control.

You can use all the gimics in the world and they'll work for a bit, but when you take them off, you're usually right back at square one.
 

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@Dreamcatcher Arabians


Your horse is anxious and insecure and because you are fearful when out on trail, she's not looking for you to be her leader because in horse logic, you're more scared than she is so she's gotta step up and keep both of you safe. And sometimes that's not a bad thing. Patti and I got in a discussion once where she absolutely would not, beat me til my hair falls off still not gonna, cross this big muddy patch and we had to go back quite a ways to find a way around it. Well, it's a good thing I lost that argument, turns out the mud patch was really quicksand. She trusts me, most of the time she'll do what I say and do it happily, but when she doesn't I've learned to listen. I've also learned that I still have to desensitize her to things every day. And she still gets scared. When that horse kicked the wall yesterday, she squirted out from under me and was on her way AWAY from whatever it was, but when I sat down and started pumping the brakes, she came back to me and we got stopped. But her FIRST inclination was to run and she did. She didn't stop and say, "HIMMM that was a scary noise. Hay Human what should I do?". She ran, then let me tell her it's ok, nothing is chasing you, nothing is going to eat you. But I had to stick with her to get her to do that.

This is my experience with most horses. They spook, you bring them back. Easy, right? I've never had a problem getting a horse back to me because at the end of the day they are still waiting on me to help them. It is a horrible, helpless feeling knowing all your "WHOA"s and half halts aren't doing a darn thing, because they aren't looking to you for support. They've already decided, in their horsey brain, you're not worth listening to.



As I reflect, thinking of all the things that happen on the trails, I can confirm I don't think I am EVER the leader on the trails. Tyra is 100% in charge. Not in a bad way, I just allow her to be the scout, the lookout, the decision maker. And I believe that must be where the trouble lies.


In the arena? I'm #1. Sorry, Ty, but you don't get to have opinions out here. That must be why she is so good for me in the arena.



Should I start riding her out on the trails Like i would in the arena? Just treat it as an extension of arena work? IE contact, collection, high expectations? I thought trail riding would be an opportunity for her to have some freedom and generally I do trust her intuition. She is an animal after all, a horse, and is more in tune with nature than me.
 

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You need a real, Swear To God, professional trainer who will give you some lessons and teach you how to handle your horse. Not some backyardigan who THINKS they know how to ride and handle a horse, a true pro. Even 1 lesson/week would help you immensely.

Human psychology will never work on the horse, they just don't think like us. What you CAN do though, is to learn about how they DO think and how to work within those parameters. We can help you some here on the forum and you can read a lot, but 90% of riding is not head knowledge, it's muscle memory from doing things over and over and over again. 10% is head knowledge and in the thick of things, isn't going to be real useful to you at that moment. Getting the right feel in your seat bones, seeing how she reacts to being flexed and having you use a half halt on her, suppling her, and things like that will teach you the way your horse reacts. Learning how to control each part of the horse, head, neck, shoulders, rib cage, hip, hind quarter and being able to get that horse to move those when asked will do a lot for you to feel in control.

You can use all the gimics in the world and they'll work for a bit, but when you take them off, you're usually right back at square one.

I think we finally have that kind of trainer. FINALLY. Thank you so much dreamy for your support and advice. I'm starting to realize what the problem is. Again, it's hard to change. I am quite good when I have an "all or nothing" mentality. I know how to wrangle and wrestle a horse into submission. I am trying something new, something that doesn't involve beating the horse until it's terrified. That's my background and I want to break away from that.
 

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@Dreamcatcher Arabians





This is my experience with most horses. They spook, you bring them back. Easy, right? I've never had a problem getting a horse back to me because at the end of the day they are still waiting on me to help them. It is a horrible, helpless feeling knowing all your "WHOA"s and half halts aren't doing a darn thing, because they aren't looking to you for support. They've already decided, in their horsey brain, you're not worth listening to.



As I reflect, thinking of all the things that happen on the trails, I can confirm I don't think I am EVER the leader on the trails. Tyra is 100% in charge. Not in a bad way, I just allow her to be the scout, the lookout, the decision maker. And I believe that must be where the trouble lies.


In the arena? I'm #1. Sorry, Ty, but you don't get to have opinions out here. That must be why she is so good for me in the arena.



Should I start riding her out on the trails Like i would in the arena? Just treat it as an extension of arena work? IE contact, collection, high expectations? I thought trail riding would be an opportunity for her to have some freedom and generally I do trust her intuition. She is an animal after all, a horse, and is more in tune with nature than me.
The horse is never in charge. YOU are always in charge and the horse has to accept that. That doesn't mean you won't consider input from the horse, you can and should because like the quicksand example, sometimes they just know what they know and you don't. But that's less than 1% of the ride. You must always RIDE and DRIVE. Being a passenger on a horse who is not a dead head is asking for broken bones or worse. Even on the deadest sided, dead head, you can STILL get in trouble if you're no more than a passenger.

YES, you should ride her on the trail just like you do in the arena. When I am out on trail I am still training. I call the arena the classroom where we learn and the trail is the real life application of the skills we've learned and practiced. Hence why I suggest things like Conveyor Belt, serpentines, halt & back up, sidepass (to open and close gates), leg yields, everything you do in the arena translates to a skill you need on the trail. You have to learn to apply the necessary skill set and LEAD the horse. That doesn't mean she's never going to spook or bolt again, far from it. But you'll have a better chance of surviving any shenanigans if you have firmly established who's in control and who's in charge before you get to that point.

I know all about bolting horses who don't listen to WHOA and half halts and such, which is why I keep repeating to practice them in the arena until they are 2nd nature to you and the horse. A horse who bolted, bucked like a rodeo bronc (I stuck that part), didn't have a one rein stop, and set his neck and jaw so that I literally could not pull his head around to my knee, and who didn't even feel my spur as I tried to get him to yield his hind quarter, who ran us right through the end of a big pipe corral arena is what got me so injured I couldn't ride for years and why I still have flash backs to this day. I would certainly spare you that kind of a wreck if I can.
 

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I know all about bolting horses who don't listen to WHOA and half halts and such, which is why I keep repeating to practice them in the arena until they are 2nd nature to you and the horse. A horse who bolted, bucked like a rodeo bronc (I stuck that part), didn't have a one rein stop, and set his neck and jaw so that I literally could not pull his head around to my knee, and who didn't even feel my spur as I tried to get him to yield his hind quarter, who ran us right through the end of a big pipe corral arena is what got me so injured I couldn't ride for years and why I still have flash backs to this day. I would certainly spare you that kind of a wreck if I can.

How can i re-create a bolting situation in the arena though? How can I re-create these spooky situations in an arena? do I just canter her and pretend like that is the "bolt" and then one-rein stop from there? Sorry, legit question, i think that is where i am getting stuck?


I watched a lot of ross jacobs videos, he re-iterates a lot of this. Horses are always asking who is in charge. I am nervous that my "in charge" is going to be too hard-handed and rough... I had and/or have the mentality that it is like a child walking into the woods with a parent. When they are scared, they run and hide behind the mother's legs, giving the parent the leadership role. But what seems to be the truth with horses is that when scared, the child will just run blindly into the forest away from the parent.


Is this somewhat accurate?
 

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I am quite good when I have an "all or nothing" mentality. I know how to wrangle and wrestle a horse into submission. I am trying something new, something that doesn't involve beating the horse until it's terrified. That's my background and I want to break away from that.
If you honestly think you can wrangle and wrestle a 1200 lb animal into submission, I'll be sending flowers to your funeral. That's a fight you will not win someday. I agree, I grew up in the beat 'em til they cry era and I hated it then (and refused to do things that way) and I hate it still. I'm not afraid to lay one on 'em if they're being downright rude and disrespectful, but the beating is never ok. I learned that I could get a whole lot more out of a horse if I'd back off and go slow and break things down into little pieces and get each little piece right before I attempted the whole. I found I rarely had to get "big" or "strong" with a horse, and I gravitate to horse that that kind of behavior would just shut them down anyhow, so it's not effective. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of "cowboys" and "yahoos" out there who still think if a crop doesn't work go get a 2X4 and if that doesn't work go get a 4x4.
 

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If you honestly think you can wrangle and wrestle a 1200 lb animal into submission, I'll be sending flowers to your funeral. That's a fight you will not win someday. I agree, I grew up in the beat 'em til they cry era and I hated it then (and refused to do things that way) and I hate it still. I'm not afraid to lay one on 'em if they're being downright rude and disrespectful, but the beating is never ok. I learned that I could get a whole lot more out of a horse if I'd back off and go slow and break things down into little pieces and get each little piece right before I attempted the whole. I found I rarely had to get "big" or "strong" with a horse, and I gravitate to horse that that kind of behavior would just shut them down anyhow, so it's not effective. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of "cowboys" and "yahoos" out there who still think if a crop doesn't work go get a 2X4 and if that doesn't work go get a 4x4.

There are ways to do it but it is the equivalent of metaphorically tying someone's hands and legs together and beating them as if they were free to fight. I REALLY don't like it, truly I don't. But I grew up doing it, and only after I got Tyra did i learn she wouldn't put up with that bullcrap, not ever. I tried to beat her over a jump and yeah - you can imagine how that went. I ate dirt. and I never, ever did it again. And you know what? She's become one of the best jumping horses i've ever ridden and that is why i want to keep her. She is a phenomenal arena horse and show horse.


If we can't master trails it will be sad but... I mean we can do what we can do. it's just ONE discipline, and not our main one.
 
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