Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fucking Mental

As far as weeks go in winter, its been a semi-productive, almost OK week.

With the exception of my horse. And the rain.

He's a mental case.. and it sucks.

Seriously.

I know I said I "figured him out" in the last post. I sort of did. I figured out HOW to fix his naughty insanity, but not the WHY.

I doubt there really is a why that I will ever comprehend/be OK with/accept, but I have a few ideas.

Before I address his constant bastardly behavior, I would like prove we are indeed working, with a few rather horrible lunging pictures.

NOTHING is worse than lunging pictures. They all look the same and have the ghastly white line in the frame and they're just dumb. But here they are. Because pictures.


#neckmuscles

That day (pictured above) he was a 2x4 but at least not bat shit crazy. He was listening and seemed to remember our break through from the day before. Mild spooking episodes but in general not dreadful.

Zoomies

Better

Best
And THIS day (pictured above) was TERRIBLE. Those pictures were taken 30 minutes into our session. I literally NEVER work a horse more than 20 on the lunge. I just dont. But I did yesterday because I refused to end terribly.

I always start our sessions with no sidereins. I generally believe that they need a good hideous warm up before being asked to do any sort of real work. But thats just like, my opinion.

Super important with the babies. They tend to have episodes and fixed reins can be dangerous in that situation. (Lets face it, theres always a risk using them, but more so with fresh babies)

In this case, Bacardi had many episodes. ONE could actually say it was a 28 minute show. Apparently Lunge Like A Complete Bastard Day was a double holiday for him.

I shit you not, he would spook vivaciously LITERALLY every 30 seconds. AT NOTHING.

We are talking, head up, butt down, scooting, bucking, galloping spook.

WHY. WHY. why. why. why. FUCKING WHY.

I was getting so frustrated. SO.

I would follow him when he spooked so as not to jam his face, but he never stopped & would just take the fuck off like



For seemingly no reason. AT. ALL.

Why and what in 5 lb 8 oz baby Jesus's name would a horse be spooking that much?

After his maniacal spooking session he finally chilled out "a bit" and I felt comfortable lunging with loose sidereins. At the trot he was a gem for the most part. I didnt even dare ask for the canter in case he felt like I was giving him permission to run off like a brain damaged citizen.

I've literally laid awake at night trying to think about it. He just recently started doing this about 4 weeks ago, every damn ride/ workout. When he does it its not a reaction from an aid or cue, it is literally about nothing. He will be waling along and all of a sudden BAM, gone. There is no reasoning. Hes had his eyes checked and his teeth checked too.



Truly, perhaps winter is just not his season. Maybe hes too fresh and its too cold and hes just too much of an ass in winter. His old owner said he was barely ridden outside in winter. Which woudl explain why hes a gem indoors but not in our muddy field or out hacking. Perhaps he really is scared of it. What "it" truly is, I have not a clue. Perhaps its the alfalfa making him spurt around like Satan Spawn. I started giving it about 4 weeks ago. Perhaps he really has gone mental and there is no real explanation for it. My mother thinks Yankee leaving broke his brain. They were turned out together and stalled near each other. Lilly is here, but in a separate pasture half the day. Maybe Yankee was his stabilizer...his chill pill...his goat. Legitimate thought.

I am at the end of my rope though.

Its making any progress impossible. Along with the rain and mud *I* might go mental too. He will be going along great and then just explode and lose his mind.  Coming back down from that takes another 5 minutes IF he doesnt spook again during that process.

Its getting unmanageable and I want to pull my hair out. I've tried everything. 4 different saddles, no saddle, cleaner pads, no leg boots, different bits, no bits. There is no difference. He wasnt doing this before with his normal tack though during summer and fall.. And now he is. And I have zero answers.

And I hate it.

16 comments:

  1. Pull him off of the alfalfa for a week. Some horses get super duper reactive on it. Otherwise, I would try not to punish spooking. He's not trying to be bad, something is scaring him and that's his only way of coping. Maybe try to keep in more mentally engaged too. My ottb would give a nasty spook when his mind wasn't engaged. I had to do more than just circles, figure eights, and changes of direction to keep his mind engaged.

    Horses aren't inherently bad nor trying to ruin your day. I would give him the benefit of the doubt that he's not trying to be awful. Also, you should not take his change in behavior personally.

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    1. I'm thinking I might, but I'm hesitant to pull him off it since its helped his weight so much.

      However, I'm NOT punishing him...at all. Not 100 % sure why you think I am? I'm doing the opposite of that (previous full post on this entire subject). I'm just frustrated beyond belief. I absolutely know hes not trying to piss me off or be awful on purpose. I doubt horses can even comprehend that kind of behavior. I just don't know why all of a sudden he's acting this way and I've reached my limit. 4 weeks of spooking out of the blue would drive anyone insane. Especially if your baby has generally been a gem in the past.

      As for things to do. I generally despise lunging for exercise but until his recently awful ground manners and spooking improves, I lunge before very ride or as a workout alone. Transitions (lots of them) seem to help as well as mounted lateral work, poles, transitions, 10m circles and 3 loop serpentines help. Definitely well aware horses tend to slip when not mentally engaged.

      Thanks for the tips though, I really do appreciate it! :D

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  2. Have you considered ulcers? If it happened at the same time that Yankee left he could have been just enough stressed to develop them. There's been a lot of change for him. Retiring from the track, new home, new owner, moving states, Yankee leaving, etc. I'm fuzzy on the time frame for all of this because my memory sucks, but I guess it could have been enough ongoing low level stress to cause ulcers. Sudden, wacky behavior just screams ulcers to me. They can cause horses to be very hard keepers too I think. His behavior seems way too drastic to be just plain old winter shenanigans. I really hope you can figure it out. I can't imagine dealing with that with such a big, young horse. Also I forgot to ask, how long ago did he retire from the track? Sometimes giving them the winter off helps. That's all I can think of right now. I hope someone else has suggestions, so you can figure out what is going on with him. Good luck!!

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  3. I also say pull him off the alfalfa. Even if it helps him gain wait, if it is making him nutso, it's not worth it. Mine was legitimately insane on Purina Ultium, spinning spooking at parts of the ring he'd been living at for three years, terrified of an unhooked trailer.... And he is super, super sane. Some horses react really, really badly to certain types of feed.

    Try beet pulp instead....might take a while for him to like it, but I started by soaking a handful and mixing that with his grain (which was probably around 3lb/meal at the time) then slowly increasing the amounts until he was eating tons of beet pulp.

    At least try pulling him off the alfalfa, if he doesn't revert to his normal self in a couple of weeks you can add it back in without too much harm. And rule that out as a cause.

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    1. I second this comment! ^
      My sweet calm boy turned into a lunatic after I thought giving him Amplify was a good idea... ummm - not. Beet pulp + all the orchard grass he wants has kept him happy and the weight on. Good luck.

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  4. I can't think of anything to help with his behavior, except maybe try going without alfalfa? Coconut meal (ground up coconut husk) is fabulous for helping gain weight without heating horses up. I've fatten all my horses over the years up on coconut meal and haven't had any reactions - bad behaviors - and the like from it. It's great for their coats too!

    bonita of A Riding Habit

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  5. I'm going to agree with the above. If you're not competing or working as much as you were before, pulling him off the alfalfa won't do too much for his weight. You guys have been working so hard and he's been getting better and better we'd all hate to see you get frustrated and him go backwards. Beet pulp may help, as long as you get the sugar free stuff, but it's mainly just water weight that they gain so I wouldn't leave him on it once you guys start busting butts again. :)

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  6. My guess is just lack of consistency. He's still green, maybe it's too much too soon. Some horses just don't handle pressure well. Could you go back and start with basics? Like just w/t/c not worrying about how he's using himself? It took three years to get my horse William to accept being ridden properly and that was after extensive research into his comfort.

    Either that or pain. Horses are not inherently bad, they either don't understand or hurt. Is there a trainer you can work with to get some other opinions?

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  7. He's 5. I wouldn't get too worried about it.

    Might be hot feed+limited exercise.

    Might be ulcers.

    Might be exposure to a new living situation+lack of balance on a circle+bad footing.

    Might be all of the above plus something else.

    FWIW, my (current) trainer spent ALL of last winter long lining a five year old because mare was too much idiot to ride. This winter? Perfect gem. Just adolescence kicking in.

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  8. Man I feel your pain. Could it be a combination of 1) really great food and 2) Maybe all the mud in his field is discouraging him from releasing any energy while in turnout? So when you go to lunge his is a powder keg? I wish horses could talk dammit. 3) young horse shit. Sending you good vibes.

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  9. My thoroughbred is 23 and has had many episodes of bat-shit crazy. When they extend beyond the normal feel-good because I'm a gigantic fit redheaded ex-racehorse I always treat for ulcers. Try Alpha-Omega Gastra-FX, that always worked for Will and I used it during stressful events in his life as a preventative as well. I evented him for 10+years and found that cracked soy (heat cracked, not crushed) in his daily feed plus fat + fiber and low sugar beet pulp always kept the weight on him just fine along with quality hay. Sweet feed=uncontrollable freak. Cheers, Kate

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  10. Baby TB Brain + Winter = Naughty Insanity, Bastardly Behavior :( I hope he finds his brain again soon!

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  11. This too shall pass. I agree with the removal of the alfalfa. There are other feeds you can give which will keep his weight on, while not making him so hot. And it won't hurt to treat him for ulcers even if it isn't the issue. As far as the amount of time you lunge him????? Quit setting time limits. It takes as long as it takes. Just because you never lunged any horse more than 20 min, doesn't mean it will be that way with him. Treat him as the individual that he is. If he needs that much time to work that energy out, then give it to him so he can be successful under saddle. Set him up for success! :-)

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  12. sounds unbelievably frustrating and disheartening! good luck figuring out a solution, whether it's feed, supplement, or tack based. or, as some others have said, good luck waiting out his baby brain antics...

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  13. OK third time's the charm. My horse was a spookaholic last year until I started him on magnesium. I don't know your philosophy on supplements, but there's LOTS of anecdotal evidence that magnesium can help all kinds of minor crazies. GOOD LUCK!!

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