Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Taking Action

No WDW today; follow up post from yesterday...Thinking "out loud" here.

First off, I appreciate every single person who read this, and those who read it and commented. I value all of the opinions, advice and reads! Literally the entire reason I blog and share all my experiences with everyone.

To address possible issues:
Disease/Pain. I've already had a vet out . Besides scoping for ulcers ($$$), they did a work up on everything else. B is supposedly fine. Didn't think about Lyme, but I'm sure the vet did some sort of something in the scope of their exam to rule that out. They pulled blood and all that jazz. Palpated every inch of his body, checked feet, back, loins, neck, teeth...everything. So that base is covered. Chiro, has not been (will bring up in a moment).

Cooped up. He also is on 24/7 turnout right now by himself, right next to Lilly. I do this so they have their own round bales (AKA free choice hay).  He's pretty skittish in the stall and seems to enjoy the outdoors so I only bring them in now when the weather gets pretty bad. B quite enjoys stuffing (literally) his face into his round bale & getting really dirty. I have definitely seen him tearing around his field like maniac, and he looooves his giant field.

Inconsistency.It seems that it does not matter how often or little I ride him either. Some weeks I can work him 4 times, and others only once, and everytime he's the exact same. No amount of distractions with lateral work or trying to get him to move forward will mitigate the explosions. He CAN move forward, just does it with many tantrums & frivolity. However, I am well aware young horses (OTTBs in particular) need consistent work. If it were up to me, I would ride 4 days a week or more, but my farm makes that a wee bit impossible in the winter with the varying terrain and sogginess levels.

Pressure. I can see where some of you are coming from with this one, but I'm not following. With the beginnings of winter came the cold temps & questionable ground. In turn, decreased chances to ride. When I do ride, if I'm not simply taking him on a hack down the road, I'm barely asking for a few walk- trot transitions. To me that doesn't seem wildly unfair or pressuring him into anything. All I wanted was a few quiet transitions and some long walks, and I can't even get that. Perhaps someone could explain what you meant?

Pain. To the best of my knowledge, my tack fits him. Not saying I'm an expert by any means, I know this, but I do have some knowledge of proper tack fit. That being said, after all other possibilities are exhausted, I am willing to bite the bullet and consult a saddle fitter *gulp*.

Trainer (or lack thereof). Its been 7 years since I've been in a  real lesson program. Slightly depressing to realize thats how long I've been out of High School and not been with an instructor. To be honest, I did not enjoy weekly lessons past my 15th birthday, but did appreciate the coaching at shows (if they even had time for me) and bi-weekly touch up sessions. The only people I can ask right now are horse friends that are in other states and his previous owner, and no one has seen the behavior first hand.

Which brings me to my solutions.

Gratuitous picture of B to break up the text
The reason I've been lamenting online to all of you is that I've exhausted every reason *I* could fathom as to why B is acting the way he is. I feel I've eliminated all of those factors, to a point. I know our work has been inconsisent. But it was also inconsistent in th summer. Half the time it was too hot, or my leg hurt too badly to ride, sometimes for weeks at a time. And B was perfect, no matter how much time he had off. That leads me to believe it has SOMETHING to do with the SEASON. Be it the extreme weather & cold, or the footing, I think that is the underlying issue. 

So I think the next step is to move him to an indoor boarding barn. I've hesitated for so long because I enjoy having my horse(s) on my own property, 30 seconds from my doorstep. I like being in control of what goes in their body. I like seeing them 3-4 times a day. I like saving money. 

But I also reaaaaalllllly like riding my horse. And jumping. And not cleaning anything. And being able to leave for a weekend without having an aneurism over who will feed for me.

So I am talking to a local Eventing barn owner TODAY and taking the official tour of her farm. We've been there twice to ride at her indoor, but I never really walked through the pastures, looked at the stalls or feed. Not getting my hopes up yet, but I think it will work. Trying not to think about how much it will cost me & focus on the benefits it will bring! Not only will I be able to ride at night after work, but I can JUMP indoors, at night, after work, if I want to. 7 days a week if my heart desires. No matter what the weather. UM...YES PLEASE. And also, lessons are available. Which I will take advantage of for now. My bank account will hate me, but I think I really need to do this. 

A lot of you seemed to hint that perhaps Bacardi is not the horse for me, and that there is no shame in moving on. Which I can agree with. No shame in admitting that. But to me, he's worth trying for. I bought him for a reason. I WANTED him for a reason. I'm not going to give up the second it gets hard.  Sure, right now his behavior is mildly dangerous, but there's a reason for it I just haven't found yet. And thats not his fault. I went through YEARS of rough patches with Yankee. Years of tears and frustrations. OTTBs are not easy, but I love them. Bacardi is a special boy and I intend to do everything in my power to figure this out. One, because I'm stubborn, but two, because I really think this can be solved. I know I voice my frustrations openly, but thats all they are. 

If after some time at the boarding barn Bacardi does not improve, I am willing to make more steps. For one, I want to wait on treating for ulcers. Right now, I can't ride even if I wanted to, so making the move is THE first step. He was cool as a cucumber when we went 6 weeks ago, so if his behavior remains the same I will bust out the GastroGuard. Then, if he still is NQR, I will have the vet (AND/OR chiro) back out to recheck everything. If he still does not improve, saddle fitter. 

I am confident that moving him will be the answer....only time will tell though. I could be wildly wrong.

Again, the positivity from everyone is amazing and I love that people are interested in our journey! Much love. 

Thanks guys!


  1. I think the move is a good idea. It will definitely give you more options to help rule out possible causes for his behavior. And having eyes on the ground can't hurt, right? I really hope this works out for you and get back to jumping all the things all the time!

  2. I think that this is a good step in the right direction! I think it's great that your forming a plan and not making any decisions in a rush. While there is nothing wrong with deciding a horse isn't for you, I also believe he's probably worth giving it some time and seeing if you can fix this!:) good luck!

  3. I totally understand your frustration. I've been there done that. It sounds like you've tried everything you could reasonably think of and more. Making the move sounds like a really good choice for all the reasons you stated and more. At the end of the day, you are the one who knows your horse best!

    Also, don't forget to rule out the ridiculous - I know a TB who absolutely hates it when he sweats between his "delicate" cheeks! Sometimes, as horsepeople know, this "sweat" is sadly inevitable. After a ridiculously long time diagnosing his reactive and unpredictable behaviour, and then various coaches trying to teach him that such behaviour was unacceptable, work him through it, bribe him through it, and then just avoid sweating him up at all costs, he came to our barn. When he started acting up, his rider started stammering out a long explanation, and apologizing. The coach laughed and said, "yeah, I don't like that feeling either" and took a minute to dry his derriere with a rag. The lesson continued with no more issues.

  4. I always feel better and have more hope with a plan. It sounds great to me and I'll keep my fingers and toes crossed that it works!!

  5. I hope your plan works out! I totally feel your pain. You're going through a lot of the same problems I had with Bobby a couple years ago, but you're doing a way better job explaining things on your blog than I ever did. I got A LOT of shit and unwanted commentary from people that didn't have the faintest grasp of what was actually going on (but fortunately I also got a lot of really helpful advise and just plain old commiseration).

    So I wanted to say quickly that sometimes horses are just assholes. Sometimes it really is nothing you're doing wrong, and nothing to do with their environment. It's not pain, feed, tack fit, being a baby, whatever. It's just being a serious dick.

    That doesn't mean you should have to give up your horse, or do a complete overhaul on your program, or take ten thousand lessons a week because oh em gee obvi a trainer can fix everything. Sometimes it just takes time. Period. End of story.

    And sometimes that's not it, but don't be hard on yourself or second guess yourself too much. You're the only one that's dealing with B's issues first hand. You know best.

  6. "OTTBs are not easy, but I love them." Yep. Same here. They are totally worth the frustrations. That indoor will be really nice, though!

  7. You go girl, that sounds like a great plan! You know better than any of us what is going on and if that little voice tells you too keep trying than by all means keep trying. Just keep reading that Denny Emerson quote about tricky horses often being the best when you need a pick me up. I'm looking forward to your continuing journey and have all my fingers crossed that you have your sweet boy back soon.

  8. I think the important thing is that your last post has made you think critically and see - that you do think he is worth the battle. My horse William was absolute hell for 2 years but I never gave up. There were many days I was hurt or cried from frustration but getting rid of him was never an option. Seems you know that's not an option for you at this point either. That's great.

    As far as pain, Penny had that tooth splinter which pained her for years before I owned her, and it only came to light this fall when it made it's way out. Sometimes pain isn't on the surface and is hard to see. Just some food for thought.

    I do think the move will be good, a structured program seems to work best for TBs. Wishing you lots of luck!

  9. I hope the move does the trick! I'd love to be at a barn with a trainer and an indoor that I dont have to trudge through snow to get to (maybe next year). I haven't been in a real lesson program since high school either, but I'm trying to take lessons with the dresse trainer next door about twice a month - mostly because that's what my budget can handle. Carly is right that YOU are the one dealing with this and you know your horse best! Good for you for being brave enough to write it all out though, seek out advice, and address it. Major props.

    One thing I feel compelled to mention: if you're still having problems after B is settled in at the new barn or after the weather warms up again and maybe you decide to investigate it being health/pain related...look into getting nuclear scintigraphy (aka a bone scan) done. This is something that you'd have to trailer to a vet hospital for and not all vets have it cause it's a big piece of equipment. It will show you WHERE the pain is, via the uptake of a radioisotope in a specific part of the body and whether it's soft tissue or bone. It's freaking cool frankly. It won't tell you what exactly is wrong, but it's super helpful to know exactly where to look for the problem. Both my horses (my mini, "zipper" and Maggie also) have had these done for various reasons. My goal in life is now to own a horse someday that DOESNT need a bone scan lol.

    But seriously, as much as you may love your vet they can't tell everything out in the field and sometimes you have to pull out the big gun and go elsewhere. Best of luck to you and B - I'll be rooting for you! Enjoy that indoor :)

  10. You got this! Perserverance will lead you to many great things!

  11. I didn't comment on your last post because I just didn't know what else there was to say, and I just really felt terrible for you and Bacardi both. So I'm really glad you've got a plan to get back on track and get some new perspectives on the situation.

  12. hopefully this will be the change that you both need!!! :)

  13. Glad to hear you've got a plan, I hope everything goes smoothly for you and Bacardi settles right back down. :)

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  14. Good plan. He might need the hustle and bustle of more horses and people. Having more riding time in the winter is a huge plus! Smokey is almost rank in the winter (especially after I clip him!!) and he's so quiet in the summer I could put and Ammy on him. It's better this year but our first winter together, ooo I was ready to ship him back to FL lol.

  15. I hate riding SK in the winter, too much energy but so little space. And she's a mare that refuses to play so its a horrible first week back into work.Good luck!!

  16. It can take 5 days for a horse to develop perforated ulcers, according to Dr Mark DePaolo, DVM

    Here is a self-check video you can watch to learn how to perform an ulcer test on your horse:

    Horses, in my opinion, are not bastards, or assholes, or any other derogatory term you want to use. I think B is acting out because he is trying to tell you something.

    Good luck

  17. I like the idea of moving him! You work full time for a reason, you might as well pay to have him somewhere that you can actually ride.

    Something I forgot to mention in the other post... have his living arrangements changed since winter started? Did he used to be turned out with Yankee? Before you got him was he out with a lot of other horses or by himself? I'm wondering if being out alone with just one other horse in the pasture next to him could be making him more alert as well (or at least contributing). If he feels like he always has to be on watch for danger maybe he's not sleeping? Some horses don't do well without a herd around. Anyway it was just a thought I had... I'm thinking out loud too haha. I really hope the move helps him out!!!!


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