Tuesday, June 23, 2015

None of My Business

The blogging world can be a fickle place. 

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". 

No. 

Stop. 
 
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. 

Mistake. 

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. 

What. 

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. 

Explain that. 

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. 

So thanks. 






20 comments:

  1. I have no words to help you with this frustrating situation, unfortunately. You have done everything I would have done. I wish you luck and peace and I hope others can try to help you out in a tasteful manner!

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  2. AMEN sista. You have tried every damn thing I would have! Have you considered trying him on a round of Depo? I am not normally one to encourage better living through chemistry (oh who am I kidding, I take happy pills and hormones ...) ... but it may help simmer down the bizarre mood swings and erratic behavior? I've seen it help some geldings who behave like assholes and spastic idiots. lol. In any case, I think you always do right by your horse. Sometimes they do stupid shit no matter how careful and patient we are.

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  3. Can I offer you an internet hug? Having dealt with 1/100th of the trailering issues you have and still find myself shaking with adrenalin every time I solo load my young horse - even if we have no problems and she goes right on - I offer only my greatest sympathies, and the hug. I hope he comes around for you one day, but he has the best of humans in you every day until then and after. Not many people are patient and kind to a horse who has caused so much issue and pain to them previously. Hugs! And all of the good red horse juju I've got :)

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  4. Agreed on the internet hug. I don't comment much, not because I don't care, but I don't have anything constructive to add to the conversation. If there's anything that is clear, it's that you're thoughtful and reflective and actually think about what you're doing -- thus your blogging -- so obviously you're not some ham-fisted ninny. Good luck.

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  5. I totally feel your aggrevation. I'm having my own trailering issues right now. I have had to drug my mule, haul her onto the trailer with a lunge line pulley system and deal with her rearing and flipping out. Then there are days where she just walks on like it's no big deal and I've imagined all the troubles. It is endlessly frustrating to me, so I can imagine how you feel.
    I don't know how you can solve your trailering problem, but I wish you luck in doing so.

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  6. I wrote a sister to this post a few months ago: http://poorwomanshowing.blogspot.com/2015/03/least-favorite-things-rant.html

    People need to chill the fuck out and calm the fuck down. I mean really, kids.

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  7. I hope my comments on Facebook didn't come across as telling you what to do.... I'm very forgetful and totally forgot that you already knew about clicker training. I was commenting on a tablet so I couldn't see your responses until I submitted what I'd written. Sorry if I got carried away. I'm sorry you're having so much trouble with him. If I knew of anything else to suggest I would but like I said in my last comment I just have no idea. I can't even imagine your frustration. It does almost seem like he has some sort of weird PTSD thing going on. Or maybe bipolar??

    P.S. a lot of people just don't understand sarcasm at all... Especially in text. I have had people remark on me calling my horse an idiot... It's a term of endearment!!!! He doesn't care! People need to stop being so sensitive!! If they heard the way I talked to human friends and family they would probably fall out from shock!!

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  8. People forget they're horses, horseman remember they are animals with their own brains and can have bad days just like us. You know, those days where you stub your toe and the world falls apart. You my friend are a horseman. Please don't stop what you're doing and blogging because of those people out there. Good for you for responding and confronting those who take things out of context - Brantley roots for Bacardi every day!

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  9. It's your little slice of the internet, you can say and do as you please. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about your life and choices.

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  10. I love that you're using clicker training, my TB loves it too. Hopefully he comes around, since you're obviously doing everything right. Jetta's not nearly as extreme, but she has the same "some days the trailer is fine and she can hop right in, other days it's a death trap and I can't get her in for anything" attitude. Good luck.

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  11. I think it's pretty obvious that you know how dangerous Bacardi's behavior is when it comes to loading, you don't need to be told. From my experiences with loading problems (we move 15-20 horses about 3 times a year) is that there is no single answer that works for every horse. It really does become a trial and error process that requires more knowledge of a situation than just reading a few blog posts. It was pretty obvious that you were upset and just venting. Hang in there and good luck to you.

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  12. good luck girl - you got this.

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  13. Please do keep on writing ... facts / tongue in cheek / sarcasm/ trials -tribulations , setbacks and victories. We all learn from our own experiences and those of others.

    * I do not own a horse, but do enjoy reading about the 'journey' of a number of bloggers.
    So take the next bit as an observation ....

    A blogger I used to read had an issue getting her horse to load on her trailer, just not to the extreme you have been experiencing. When she would trailer with a friend, her horse loaded much easier ... either first or 2nd loading order. The difference she noticed was that her friend's trailer would arrive with sawdust bedding. It dampened the 'noise' . Apparently her 'clean' trailer was loud and echoed ... and when her horse was protesting loading ... it only got louder. She added some 'bedding' to her trailer and her horse was much more cooperative. It's just a thought. How sensitive is Mr.B to noises? (rhetorical question).

    Good luck with the journey and keep on posting. It's an outlet for you and much cheaper than 'counseling' ;)

    M in NC

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    Replies
    1. I never thought of that before!! My horse will load but he doesn't like it... I might have to try this with him. :)

      Also regarding Bacardi... when he loads on Amy's trailer Steady is already on there isn't he?? Maybe he needs a buddy?

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    2. No steady is not. He wont load if a horse is already on the trailer. Surprise surprise.

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    3. Aww rats! There goes that idea. I honestly have no idea what to do... I really hope you can figure something out. This must be so frustrating! :-(

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  14. I don't know what was posted but hopefully nothing I said was offensive. I do think for the most part people just want to help when they leave comments, which can easily come across wrong when written on the internet. Don't let it get to you, take each piece of advice with a grain of salt, but also remember - we never know everything with horses and sometimes it just takes something or someone new to share an idea that you might have never thought of before. Hope you guys can work it out and it doesn't deter you from writing!

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  15. I can empathize.
    You'll know what to do. Take the internet's opinions with a grain of salt (because internet) and stay true to what you know is right. You're the one with the full story, after all- and you know your horse best.

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  16. You'll get there. You are incredibly strong to deal with such a difficult situation, and a horse that many people would have given up on long ago. It is clear you want nothing but the best for him, and I believe that your determination and good intentions will get you there eventually. It may be a long battle, and I wish there were an easy answer for this, but it does sound like he has some sort of PTSD or mental block, and time and patience may be the only way. Keep trying, keep believing.

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