Friday, July 24, 2009


Well, another horse is a no go - Lennie the quarter horse is too sway back for my taste.

so onward.

Of course my next contender is breaking the rules.

She's a mare.

She's 4.5.

She's part arab we think.

But I met her and she's just sweeeet.

I'm riding her tomorrow.

And I'm going to try to look at this one.

Isn't he gorgeous?

Maybe too much horse for me...

Then I have this cruddy self confidence issue right now.

I can't bring myself to lope.

Rudy invited us to go out and work cows for the ropers tonight at Cibolo. I worked through some fear issues with that. Cows running all over, Lily not so sure, getting her through that, getting right in there with the cows, them running by like little bovine maniacs.

But I was deep breathing the whole time.

Because, somehow, after riding a bucking horse, I've turned into a wienie. A chicken. A baby. A wimp.

I loved to lope on Canyon in the round pen and arena. I was weirdly confident about that crazy boy. Now that he's gone, I haven't loped once.

Well, maybe once. But that's it.

I'm a huge, lame, chicken.

Gotta work on that. Gotta just lope.


Actually got so discouraged I wondered if I should even do this anymore.


Fear does that. Fear is a half brother to justification. You can justify any decision when you're scared.

I'm going to lope. Then I can decide. Then my head will be clear. I just need to pull my lame self together, sit in that saddle and go fast...


OK, now a training question for all you out there:

Lily is bolting out of the trailer on us. She escaped me (it's a long and somewhat amusing story I'll share later). She literally goes the minute the divider is loosened and it's dangerous for all of us.

Anyway, we know it's not this trailer - she does it in all trailers. She was fixed, then it broke again. Anyone know how to fix this?


Anonymous said...

Good luck with the loping - is there an easy, gentle horse you could work on it with to reestablish your confidence?

On the trailer unloading, she probably thinks that's how she's supposed to back, or it could be because someone's pulled on her face while she was backing too fast (it doesn't work - you can't restrain them and it tends to put them in a panic), or she may have had an unpleasant experience where someone left her tied and she pulled back, broke a tie and may have had a bad exit, so she's worried. Going fast probably means she's worried about something. It doesn't matter, the goal would be to reteach backing out, starting on ground so she first understands backing one step at a time, very very slowly and with softness if you can get that. When that's solid, work up to backing one step at a time off a step (for step-up trailers) and down a steep slope (for ramps) - some horses are worried about this. You have to have it well established on the ground first. Then if it were me (which it isn't), I would work with having her pause after loading - don't tie her us or close the partition - and then take one step at a time backwards - if she goes back too fast just let her - don't fight with her. Try to get more and more slow steps, and to increase the pause time that she stands before you start backing. I would work quickly on increasing the pause time so she doesn't learn that the sequence is load and then start backing out - you want her to learn load, stand (at some point adding closing the partition), back slowly. Expect some one step forward, two steps back stuff, and give her time to process, and make sure you keep emotion out of it. When you make a little bit of progress, take her for a nice walk around so she can relax as a reward. And be very, very careful - horses and trailers can be a dangerous combination.

SolitaireMare said...

I feel you on the fear thing. After I lost Monty I had a nagging insecurity that would not leave as I mounted each unfamiliar horse. That never happened to me before. And it's not that Monty was bombproof, but I knew through experience he "had my back" so to speak. There were several instances over the years where I knew he compensated for a bad moment on my part.

Now, every horse is a mystery and the one I have now decided to shrug me off and I have not gotten back on since I remounted after the buck-off. It's getting closer to my trainer and I returning to riding him and I'm having ambivalence about it. I know this horse is not mean or wild but the trust is being tested by both of us constantly at this stage.

I agree to see if you can ride a proven trustworthy horse to find your lope again. I'm thinking of taking a friend up on an offer to ride one of her quiet lesson horses before my return to Rugby.

Melanie said...

Awwww...I can totally relate to your fear. I rode a bronc for over 16 years, and so, after an eight year hiatus from horses, when I returned, I didn't want to move out of a controlled lope/canter on a horse that I didn't know.

I think that it was the fear of the unknown that got to me. I knew that my old horse was going to buck, so I was always prepared for it, but a strange, new, horse??? Who knew what it would do? (I am over this now, but I am also still cautious with new horses-I think it's a mommy thing!)

Just let the current owner know about your insecurity, and have them ride the horse first. That way, you can kind of get a feel for it before you try it out. Also, just ask them if the horse bucks. There are thousands of reliable horses that never buck out there, you-and I!- just had the unfortunate experience of riding the one in a thousand that does.

Most people will be honest with you about that, but there are always those that may lie.
Hang in there! :)

Melanie said...

PS-About the trailer issue...I recommend what Kate says, and another thing you could try-because it gives you a huge advantage at controlling her head when she is panicking-is to use a regular halter and correctly place a chain over the noseband before you back her out.

Of course, you have to work on keeping her panic level down, but I can gurantee you that she will not be able to drag you far with a chain over her nose. It can be a wonderful aid when used correctly.

Trailrider said...

Having seen how fast Lily bolts out of the trailer, I thought about a few things: I might load her, put up the divider, and then just leave her in the trailer, and make her experience there pleasant. Rub on her face through the side panel, talk to her, maybe even give her ONE treat. Then I would open the back door of the trailer WITH THE DIVIDER IN PLACE, and just let her sit there. She's going to get anxious, and if she goes berserk, then close the back door again. But let her get used to the idea that the trailer is not a bad place to stay in, and that just opening the back door does not imply "Get ready to bolt"!

I would do that every day FOR A WEEK.

Then I would add slowly opening and closing the divider WITHOUT BACKING HER OUT, and if she bolts, I would march her right back into that trailer and start from the beginning. I want her to know: the trailer is a pleasant place to stand in, bolting doesn't get you out of the trailer "situation", and the easiest thing to do is to back up slowly and WHEN I TELL YOU TO - not when she wants to.

Make the thing you want her to do easy (that's the easy part) but make the wrong thing HARD to do or get out of (and that means a very firm hand and back in the trailer if needed).

Right now, her release to (her perceived) pressure is rewarded to her when she bolts out and doesn't have to stay in the trailer. If she thinks she's leaving/bolting from the trailer just to get longed on the ground outside the trailer and then put back in, she'll soon figure out how to "escape" from THAT pressure, and her release will be you NOT working her ONLY IF SHE WALKS/BACKS SLOWLY out of the trailer.

This is a several week project.

Anonymous said...

eek ghad! dont they make trailers with a front exit!?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Lope?? Heck, I've got issues even just getting back on a horse again. Third time injured..and I could be out! gah!

You're much braver than me, and you'll get back into it and lope like a wild woman, once you find THE HORSE. A horse you can trust and can feel safe on again.

I got terrible frustrated with my stubborn mare last night because she refused to let me put her new fly mask on or to let me spray her with fly spray. She's 16....these experiences are not new to her. Jeez!
But because she was acting all punchy and as if she would rear, I let her win. And felt so discouraged and so mad at myself. I was so afraid of getting hurt again. I kept seeing all the different ways I'd end up being hurt, in my head, that I just said, it's not worth it.

I even considered placing her up on Craigs List for FREE! Or even donating her to the Horse Rescue (they accept dontations of GOOD horse so they can sell them and use the money for the rescue).

I made her run and keep moving all around her paddock. When she slowed down, I pushed her onwards.
Finally she stopped. I told her to stand. And then I pulled out the fly spray and told her to stand. She did!
And I gave her a cookie and then sprayed her all over, except her face.
I didn't even bother with the fly mask, though. It was starting to get dark.

But this morning, I decided she was not going to win...I was.

I waited to feed her hay until 10:30am. I usually feed her around 8:30am. She was hungry.
I had the fly mask.

And cookies.

She came up to me for the cookies and I gave her one, but as soon as the fly mask was raised, her head shot up and she backed away.

So I made her walk in circles in her pen....around and around she went.

Then I'd offer her a cookie and the fly mask. She refused the fly mask.
This went on for about 15 minutes.

Finally, she stopped. I walked up. Put the lead around her neck. Gave her a cookie, and then slid the mask up her face....and she kept her head down. She stood still while I fastened the mask and then she got cookies.


It felt so good, working past that fear. Making my mare realize she wasn't going to push me around and get her way.

Good luck with thoe trailer issues. I know you'll help Lilly get 'em all worked out soon.


Unknown said...

Kate: I'm glad you mentioned about not pulling on her face - that was my instinct but I just wasn't sure what to do. She is definitely worried and I want to do what I can to ease her worry and not make it worse. She's a worrier.

She backs up great on the ground, and off a little platform we have her back one step already (my daughter's idea!). So we'll extend that and do the other things yo mentioned.


TR: I was thinking of feeding her carrots through the window. I think the lunging once she's out is a great idea too. It's the moment the pressure releases that she bolts. I need to figure out how to teach her that pressure release is not a time to bolt. Maybe a little rope work? She's so fast, though, I don't want her to fall over backwards.

Unknown said...

Solitare & Melanie: Thank you for the encouragement. I'm glad I'm not alone in this, I don't feel so... uncowgirl. :)

I've got a trusty steed in Lily. I just have to DO IT. Which sounds so easy on the commercials. I'll get there.

Lisa: You know, I never got hurt, though. I'd be a shambles if I got hurt, I think.

What incredible courage you've shown getting back with her and teaching her some respect. Huge victory!

If you get no takers on BD by the next few weeks, then I think you should either drop her price very low and sell her as a "project horse" for a trainer or donate her to a rescue.

Then you can focus on finding the "restore confidence"horse (that's how I see them listed sometimes).

I'm not braver than you. We are on this road together and we'll get through it like Melanie and Solitare have...

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Winter....All I've got say is "Thanks"

What you said means a lot to me.