Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Falling Apart At The Seams

It never fails, I get one horse 'fixed' and another one falls apart at the seams. LOL.

Ah well...such is life.

Right now my darling little redheaded fireball is having a full on 'baby horse' meltdown....

Poor Little John. I think he finally realized that he is not just having a bad dream. This really is his life now. It is causing him great anxiety.

Truth is, I have been very surprised by how well LJ has taken everything in since I got him. He's a quick learner and eager to please. But I wasn't holding my breath that it would last. LJ has a few strikes against him, no matter how smart or eager he is;

#1-He had NO life experiences when I bought him. He had never been off of the property he was born on and no matter how busy with activity that place was, it was still home and he was comfortable there.

#2-He was started and trained in typical show-horse fashion. His every moment was dictated to him when he was being handled and no aberrations are allowed.

#3-He's a baby!! Okay...so technically, he's a coming 4y/o...but he's still a baby and babies go through this.

None of these things are bbaaadddd things. I knew these things when I bought him and I was prepared for what is happening to happen.

LJ is having some real separation anxiety issues. Even when tied to the trailer, with all of the other horses in full view, he still cries, and paws, and paces....For h.o.u.r.s!!! (Where's my ear plugs?)  When I pony him, I have to put protective boots on the pony horse because LJ is so insecure he is walking on the horse I am riding. I'm constantly kicking him off of my leg and forcing him to track off to the side.

LJ is coming 'unbroke'. LJ has a great foundation on him. He was taught a lot of very special maneuvers at a very young age. But riding time was training time. Period!! LJ knew nothing about just being ridden. He's exceptionally well-trained...And barely 'broke'. Does that make sense? It's a very common phenomena with young show trained horses. Let me tell you what...When some of these show-trained horses start having to think for themselves, they are far scarier to ride than something like Jet (aka The Big Bay). You think you are riding a 'broke' horse and as they come unwound from their dictated to frame of mind...They get kinda crazy. They get to looking around, gawking at things, forget to pick up their feet...then they suddenly remember they are not supposed to do that and they slam back into show horse frame. LOL. They are just all over the board. They are like Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde.

And then there is the age thing. However, LJ actually is more like a 2y/o than the coming 4y/o he really is. He's mentally regressed due to all of the unfamiliar things in this life he found himself thrown into.

So what am I going to do about all of this?

Not a damn thing!!!!

Little John is just going through a phase. I've seen this happen to World Champion show horses when they suddenly have a life outside of the show ring and they just have to go through it. I remember the first time my grandpa left the ranch house to check cows on a mare my dad insisted he ride that day. This mare had been to the AQHA Congress show, won the Cow Palace (as a halter horse) and qualified for the AQHA World in a couple of events, besides halter...and my grandpa LED her home. That mare came unhinged out in the open. The waving grass terrified her. The cows terrified her. Having to cross an actual creek terrified her. The sheer openness of the country terrified her. Grandpa was in his 70's and after a couple of hours of that crap, he just got off and led the goofy hag home, handed the reins to my dad, got in his truck and went to town. The next week he went and bought a ranch-raised horse to ride. LOL.

Of course, that mare, and all of the other show horses eventually got used to being ranch horses. They didn't all make GOOD ranch horses, but most of them turned out okay. But it was a real eye-opener to me. I realized at a young age that it's far easier to take a ranch horse to town than it is to take a show horse to the ranch. And that is why I am so adamant about my horses learning how to ride out in the open LONG before I ever start doing much specialized training. It's way easier to put specialized training on a broke horse than it is to take a specialty trained horse and turn them into a 'broke' horse.

I was really hoping to have LJ ready for the Dick Pieper clinic in April, but at this point, he hasn't even seen cattle yet and trail obstacles?...Bwahahahaha...We are still working on walking over a single pole or walking through a parallel set of poles.

But it's no big deal. I have Frosty and Moon as back-ups if LJ hasn't regained his mind by then. He'll still be suitable for the reining portion of the clinic and in the grand scheme of things it will just add to his life experiences. My main goal is just to have him pretty well 'broke' and patterned up on the barrels in the time we have left here in Arizona. Where the heck did the time go?...It's only 2 months until I go back to Colorado. I don't anticipate 'running' LJ much at all this summer. He's only 4 and I don't want much more out of him than a nice loping pattern. By the time that happens I should have a feel for how much speed he really has. It's hard to tell yet because he really doesn't know how to even move out in an extended manner yet. His long-trot is not a long-trot at all, it's just a really fast trot and his lope is either super controlled or on the verge of being out of control, there is no stretchiness to it at all. Hahahaha...I feel like I am riding a pogo stick compared to my other horses.

The only thing I wished he would get over quickly is that damn 'yelling'. Oiy Vey is he a noisy little thing. :-/


GunDiva said...

This actually makes perfect sense. You see the same thing in arena riders when you take them out on the open trail. Some of the worst rides I ever led out were with very highly decorated competitive riders.

Sherry Sikstrom said...

I cant abide a screaming horse either! yeesh I wanna scream back "SHUTTHEF***UP" but that really would not help. Funny I was thinking he needs some long trail rides just being rode, except if he is going to lose his mind I would be maybe a little hesitant to take him out(now 15 yrs ago?? nope I would be riding that little pony out to check cows every single day and fences and well just going for a toot out to the field to see what there is to see )Seems show broke horses need to see something other than the walls of an arena.Oh well I am sure he will get through it , or you will get him through it

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

It's the riding out in the desert that boggled him Sherry. He was doing good when I was just hauling him around to different arenas, never made a wrong move. Ponied him out in the desert a few times, he handled it good. Started riding him out in the desert and OMG!

It's just the open space. He had never been rode outside of an arena til I got him and never in his life seen THIS much open space. He just started coming unraveled is all.

I'm still ponying him out in the desert and riding him in my 'open' riding area around the house. It's about as much as he can mentally handle at the moment.

It even shows when I turn him out with the rest of the geldings. They lap the entire 3 1/2 acres, bucking and playing and he won't leave the area in front of the pens. He watches them and races with them when they come back through the little area he is comfortable in, but when they take off again, he stops like there is a fence there. That's his comfort zone and he isn't about to leave it.

It's nothing like the kind of horses we raise, that grow up with lots of room to run, with nary a fence in sight. LJ has never known a life without 'borders'.

Unknown said...

I wonder if he would do better in the desert if you were riding with someone instead of just ponying. Not riding and talking like we tend to do, but two horses working side by side. It would keep his mind busier but still give him the comfort of having another horse along.
When I was riding with Mark, he always jumped at the chance to have me ride out with him when he was on a colt. He said it seemed to help build their confidence.
Of course if you don't have someone to ride with, then you have no choice but to make do with what you've got. :-)

Cut-N-Jump said...

Sounds like LJ is not liking the idea of putting on his Big Boy britches. He'll get there, but it will be in his own time. I agree with Cindy about having someone to go out with you when you ride, not just for the 'comfort' but also for safety reasons.

This goes back to the old saying- Family horses make great show horses, but show horses don't always make good family horses.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I forgot to add- I hear you on the screaming. Luckily for me/him, Kat only seems to do it in excess, in the dressage arena at competitions. Still! It gets old. By about the 2nd or 3rd one I don't want to hear it anymore.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Yes Cindy, having another rider generally helps. Being alone here is not always conducive to getting these youngsters out the way I like to, a few times with company. But ya know, it has to be the 'right' company too. Megan used to drive me nuts when she was here because she never could figure out to just get out there and stay beside or ahead of me when I was on a greenie. She was always wandering around or getting behind me which made the colts nervous. And I was riding with a lady in CO for a little while, but she was always wandering INTO me and one day she got after her horse right beside me when I was on Bugs (one of his first trips out) and almost spooked him into a ravine. Since then, I just try to work it out on my own. I didn't realize that not everyone grasps how to ride with someone when they are on a colt. :-/

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Lord don't I know that one! A friend (a dear one at that who I thought would know better) did everything from hook stirrups with me to tearing off from behind me at a gallop on Jonny's first ride out couldn't decide whether to kill her or kiss my colt for being so awesome. Chose the later but did explain in no uncertain terms how I felt

kestrel said...

With show horses...oy vey when it all falls apart for them! I've had to break it down to...lunge in arena, then lunge outside. (All show horses get lunged, but few get correctly lunged. Teach gait changes on command, lots of brain work.) Work obstacles in arena, then same obstacles outside. Ride pattern in arena, then same pattern outside.

A day in a hay field patterning at a walk and trot around bales can teach a barrel horse a lot about rating correctly around obstacles.

Show horse sad cases. Had one that almost fell down when I refused to set his head and asked him to carry it himself. Took the poor thing a week to figure out how to carry his own head.
The scary one was a horse that had been brutally beaten for making any kind of mistake. The horse would lock down and then go absolutely panicked ballistic.

And riders who act like idiots around green colts?! The air just turned purple!