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!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I was so impressed with the level of response I got from my last post. I didn't intend it to be such a great discussion post and honestly thought y'all would tell me to buck up and stop complaining. Its reassuring to know that I'm not the only one frustrated with Eventing and the direction its headed, so thank you guys for that!

I also made a tiny blurb about being mildly frustrated with my current horsebeast and riding in general, and that remains true.

I rode once last week and it was so horrible, again, that something in me snapped.

I don't want to be done, but I feel so done.

I want to ride so badly, but I don't.

I cannot grasp why my wonderful, beautiful horse is acting like the world's douchiest bastard.

All I wanted to do was hack down the road and have a nice, relaxed, no pressure ride. I had a breakthrough (or so I thought) with my last ride and really wanted to try out my theory.

The first half of the ride was great. I rode basically on the buckle and he seemed to take note and was relatively relaxed and swingy. We just walked since I wanted to keep it easy. I breathed a sigh of relief. For once we might have a good winter ride!

And then halfway down the road Bacardi must've seen something that pissed him right off because without warning he reared straight in the air and spun and tried to peace out.

Noting, that I had been riding on a loose rein and we've probably walked down our road a good 50 times since I've owned him.

So what the fuck.

Imaginary ghosties and ghoulies.
He literally spent the last mile home snorting, prancing and half rearing and it was all I could do to not cry or rip his face off in frustration. WHY couldn't he just fucking walk? Why can't we have ONE nice ride this winter? WHY. I barely touched him! I didn't ask anything of him!

For the first 5 months I owned this horse he never once reared under saddle. Not one time. He rarely spooked either. He tried so hard to please me. He made HUGE strides in progression & I loved it.  was THE most perfect baby and I looked forward to riding him everyday.

And now I can't stand it.

I know everytime I get in the saddle, hoping we might have a nice ride, I'm actually going to end up riding a wild bronco and it breaks my heart everytime. Its like, what am I even doing now, what is the point. I've NEVER had a horse this difficult, ever. Even asshole Murphy or wild baby Yankee. I've never been afraid for my safety, or my horse's. I've never dreaded getting in the saddle. And now I do.

With Yankee, Murphy, or any other difficult horse at least we had positive, encouraging and progressive rides sprinkled throughout the bad ones. I know all riders/horses have bad days and bad rides but the consistency of our bad days is really eating me up inside.

My mind is my greatest enemy, but who would want to ride, knowing its going to be shit everytime, no matter what.

I'm so sick of it & I want it to get better.

If this is how every winter is going to be with him I don't know if I can do this.

I just want that horse back and I'm losing my mind over it. I cannot grasp how an older horse, with more experience can backslide so horrendously, when his younger self was literally an angel. Its like night and day difference.

The last thing I want to do is not ride the rest of winter, but even when I want to the weather or the ground prevent it from happening. And then when I want to and can, its terrible everytime and nothing I do makes it better.

Then I sit and think about how shitty this will be if he maintains this level of fuckery into spring and summer and I never get my calm, wonderful baby back. I couldn't deal with that. I have a surplus of patience and love and understanding for retraining babies, but I cannot tolerate dangerous behavior that makes riding zero fun. I'm terrified this isn't just a horsey version of SADS and he is stuck like this forever.

Seriously frustrated and about done.

Am I overreacting? Do I really need to just give it up until spring and hope his attitude improves? Or did I break my horse and he's forever an asshole...