I've made a post like this before, but I feel like I should say it again. Because obviously I can't keep my mouth shut and it's only my blog. But that's none of my business.
And I will say now there are no pictures here. I wrote this on my iPhone and it's lengthy.
It's a well known fact that once "it's" on the internet it is there to stay and there for ANYONE to read. You are putting yourself out there for anyone to critique, judge and make snarky comments about. I've been in this position many times and come under fire for statements made in here or actions of mine. Which is all fine. I acknowledge the "blogging risks" and continue because usually I don't give a rats ass.
However, recently, the comments generated here have made me want to close this blog down and keep a lid on our story.
I've always been one of those to share struggles more than successes because for one, I find they make a better read and more can learn from it, but I am also humble in my approach to success. I don't like sharing it much. It makes me feel like I'm bragging, even if it's earned.
And that's why I blog. To share my story. My struggles. My experiences. My journey. And a lot of it, especially recently, has been a real bitch.
Acquiring the horse known as Bacardi was a hasty decision. I barely knew what I had coming, but I knew I wanted him. I haven't regretted it for a second. Not once through the injuries to myself, himself, the tears of frustration or anger. Not one time. It's all a journey. And I love every second. He's my horse and I bought him for a reason.
The struggles make the successes even better. Especially the little ones. Like when he finally let me halter him in the field. Or walk through his stall door without fuss. Or trust me enough to be still for the vet, sort of. It's those tiny things with this horse that makes it all worth it.
Sure, we haven't gone to a show yet and won a blue ribbon. That stings a little coming from showing often, to not at all. Yankee was a saint and beast and Bacardi is not him and that took a minute to get used to. But then again, I don't have much money for that anyways and he's not ready for a large show. He will be someday. But not now. And I'm fine with that.
Like I said. It's the journey.
And it's really starting to bug me when people tell me what to do.
I've said this before, but apparently there are those it there offended by me calling my horse a lunatic or insane and feel the need to demand I do this or do that.
Fucking lighten up.
It's called sarcasm and it's my way of dealing with the ridiculousness of the situations. I've never owned a horse as complicated as him, with as many issues. And you know what, I don't care. He's mine and I love him for it.
So please, continue to judge and make statements and assume I'm not doing everything in my power to help this horse. It's fine. You just don't know.
I know you can only see what I post, and that's my fault, but please, take a step back and try not to assume I am some idiot blundering around with a problem horse going "omg what are this how do I train".
I have never ever claimed to be an expert or a trainer, but I have been around horses long enough and worked with enough trainers and learned how to deal with almost any behavioral issue thrown at me. 16 years experience actually. That's some years. Most of it spent paying damn good money for trainers.
So please for the love of God stop suggesting I get one. We all can't afford to throw money at everything horse ownership involves. You don't know my life and I don't know yours. I do the best I can with what I can.
If I didn't think I could handle it I would've sold him long ago. If I ever sell him it would be due to lack of funds, and that's it.
I got this. But Rome wasn't built in a day. Bacardi won't be fixed in a year. He may never be normal. But I am willing to be there for him and help him out to the best of my ability.
So for those of you out there that care, please stay tuned, as you are about to get a rundown of what I have done with this horse regarding his trailering issue. Because for some reason I feel the need to defend myself. Why, I don't know.
You must first see before you can judge, and not one of you besides Amy has actually seen his behavior in person. It is baffling.
One moment he will be relaxed, ears flopping, chewing, head in my lap and calmly step up onto the trailer. Chill with both front feet and either get in...or won't. And the second he won't it's an immediate change in demeanor. A flip of a switch. His eyes go white, ears go back, he rears backwards and sometimes flips himself over. I literally do nothing. It's unpredictable. He either will or he won't and I can never tell.
To get him to the point of loading nicely, before the accident, I tried every method I knew. And a whole mess of it was an absolute nope.
First we did groundwork. A LOT of it. Responding to my body. Moving away, moving with, listening to my voice. Taking everything I've learned from natural horsemanship classes and trainers over the years.
Yes. I've done this. This is where I started, as anyone with a brain should.
Once we got good at moving from pressure and games and all that shit we started clicker training. Which he fucking loves. He picked that up faster than any horse I've trained with clickers. He learned a few basic tricks to grasp the concept and we moved on.
So we started using that to learn trailer good, not bad.
Step. Click. Step. Click. Repeat.
(More like ask horse to step forward away from pressure. Step. Click. Treat. Repeat. Ask horse to lift foot w whip. Click. Ask again. Ask to put foot on trailer. Good. Click. Treat. Repeat. And so on and so forth until you're sick of it, over and over until you creep to the trailer and eventually get on.)
And within 3 sessions I had him loading no problem. Holy fucking shit it worked, who would've thought.
Then, once, we trailered out for a ride. He got right on. Great ride, awesome, wonderful, pats all around.
Would not get back on. I tried for an hour.
Cue bitches in surrounding area bullying their way in your business and demanding to "help" you.
Me, being speechless and feeling helpless. Allowed it, because why not. I can't get him on w my magic voodoo clickering.
Within an hour he had broken two halters, 3 lunge lines, and skinned many hands.
I also learned attempting to pull him on from behind with lines makes him flip over. Whips make him freak the fuck out. Absolutely no one can stand behind him or he will rear immediately. Like thrashing, kicking, throwing body around. He got loose twice. It was horrible.
I spent the next hour an a half feeling like the worst owner in the world for letting someone else "help" and trying to gain his trust back. Eventually, he just seemed to give up the fight and got on without pause. Like, just decided, ok I'll get on now.
So for the next few weeks we went back to square one. Groundwork. Trust. Etc.
He always showed up and remained calm...for the most part.
Until he wasn't.
The mood swings were insane and unexplainable.
When this happened I would back off. Less pressure. Less. Less. Get him calm.
This helped. A bit.
And then he would get right back into being obstinate.
So I tried a method I learned with Spirit.
Anytime he make a single flinch backwards, make it hell. Back up for 40 steps. Hell 60. Then lunge him away from pressure. Make him work. Make it suck. Backwards not fun. Backwards means work. Forwards good. Forward treat.
And he learned quick.
This in tandem with clickering was our ticket.
He was fine for months. We just rarely went anywhere because of time. But I still practiced. Occasionally we would have a hiccup and we would revisit our "backwards bad" discussion and he would concede.
Now to present day.
Cue accident. Bewilderment. Astonishment. Confusion.
Why did he throw such a tantrum that day. I changed nothing.
So I gave it two weeks.
I started over with clickering as I knew nothing else would work. No amount of force would help, only hurt. Whips, not okay. Hard pressure, not cool.
So I took it slow. Whatever. I wanted my horse to be okay with this.
Fed him "in" the trailer. Well. His feet on the ground and his head in the trailer.
Parked the trailer next to his stall with the doors open. It's still there too.
Ride near it. Played with him near it.
Then started groundworking and clickering him near it.
Then started asking him on.
And he would get halfway on. Calmly. Rationally. And then explode. So I never pushed him.
I would bring him back. Rub his face, sing to him because he likes that, until he was calm again. Start over.
Usually I would end on a good note aka feet in trailer, but he would never stay.
I was so frustrated.
And then Saturday happened. He continued to refuse my trailer. He got right on Amy's, and then refused on the way home.
My reasoning is just that he's scared. Understandable.
It does not explain why he gets on sometimes and not others. And why he will be perfectly calm and then not. Unless he has some off form of horsey PTSD...which I'm beginning to think is real.
So unless you have a real suggestion like the Doctor who commented (thank you my lovely, I will respond to your comment), please refrain. Because force does not work with this horse and his moods are unpredictable.
Call me crazy or insane or what have you with your dictionary definitions, but this horse needs patience and understanding and I am giving him that. No amount of "other" training will make him stop rearing. I've tried. I've done my damndest to not pressure or freak him out. But he's a fucking horse. They have their own minds. I can't explain it or control it.
But please, for those of you who think you can deal with this better than me, come on down. I'll even feed you dinner and let you sleep in the guest room.
I would just appreciate if the snide, no named comments about myself and my methods would cease. Or at the very least get the balls to leave your name and stand behind your comment.
I'm not going to kill my fucking horse. In fact, I'm doing my best to prevent that.