Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And now what

My comment in response to the comments got to be so long, I realized it was a post.

First thank you to everyone who commented. All day long I received these wonderful comments and they each helped me think about where I am and what I want in my time with horses. This support is beyond wonderful - it's a tremendous gift to me and I appreciate everyone who took time to share thoughts, advice, and empathy! Seriously, I don't know how I'd do this without ya. When I hit the lottery, we're all going to Hawaii.



Today I've been thinking, looking within. I have to examine myself closely and figure out if this is just a problem I'm going to have forever, with every single horse.

I think I can very honestly say no. Lily came to me pretty bratty, and now she has a close to ideal attitude. She requires a reset when she's sat around for a while, but it's a one day deal. She doesn't test her rider. She doesn't try to kick when you pick her hooves any more. She's much better for the farrier. She leads perfectly now - no more pushy behavior. Her only vice - she likes to go fast, and will gather quite a head of steam, is not completely gone, but she needs more riding to fix that. But even that's not a bolt. It's a gallop and it's covered in joy. You can just ride it out and she'll slow down. She just loves to go.

And, more to the point, no matter how much she dislikes the path or circumstance presented to her, she doesn't buck.

So I feel comfortable saying that I'm not creating this behavior - to a point.

OBVIOUSLY I AM missing something with Cibolo, I think it's a level of sternness he requires (beyond the fact that he's not "broke" as TR points out). Somewhere I'm sending him signals that mean to him I'm failing some test. I'll be damned if I can see it, but clearly he can. Sure, I know I need more work as a rider, but seriously, I don't suck that bad.

And when it unravels, I have to get to a level of a neutron bomb (by my measure) to regain his respect. But I apparently have to stay at that the level to keep it.

Carson said it's about consistency and I'd agree. He needs this level consistently. Yet I don't believe every horse does need it at this level. If I acted this way with Lily, she'd spaz out. She is looking for ways to please. TR's Paso Fino is the same way. Get too heavy handed and he gets nerved out.


What I'm wrestling with is whether I want a horse that requires me to be in this space to get in his space. I know any horse will require some of that, but this guy needs a huge attitude. All the time.

And it's a big drag for me. I'll be giving him that attitude for the coming weeks, but the reality is that he's going to need it FOREVER. I agree with Paint Girl. That's just how he is. (Sure, with my new menopause era beginning the bitch is never too far away, I just don't know if it's where I want to be during my horse time.)

Cibolo will be the kind of horse that will test repeatedly. It's been more than a year. I don't think it'll ever stop. I think it's his nature. He checks every rope, every day, hard. It's one thing to give a firm tug on that rope to say, "yes, I'm still in charge." It's another thing to back him up 15 steps, whirl him around, whack him on the but, and fill my spirit with intensity to say "HELL YES I'm still in CHARGE OF YOUR FANNY, you BLEEP."


Hey TR, I disagree with you on one thing - that I've been drawn to color and papers. Remember, I did buy Lily, the most wonderful QH in the entire world - yes, a bum coffin joint, but it's manageable.

Sure, color was a factor with Canyon, to be sure, but I learned that lesson. With Cibolo, it wasn't about looks or papers (I wouldn't know what I was reading anyway). I don't like sorrels much. Yes, he's handsome, but I like paints, and horse with manes. I was drawn to Cibolo because of his low key attitude and his training that was evident from handling him. He does many things very well. He seemed solid for some time. This more troubling aspect of his personality has been limited to certain situations, and they were so surprising, I had no clue they were there. Then I thought I could get his respect and keep it.

(Besides, fellow bloggers, TR has three drop dead gorgeous horses and is the LAST guy who should talk about buying for looks! LOL! Woody, TR's dead broke horse, is a beautiful horse (his pic is in the end of this post), and if there was ever a horse to buy for looks, it's him (I tried, but he beat me to him). But Woody was a jigging mess when TR got him. TR's worked through that issue.)

I don't mind working through issues like jigging, spinning, etc. I have worked through some of Cibolo's spooks, I've got him working like a circus horse in the round pen. He loads better than he did when I bought him. But explosions? Aye vay, as my italian grandmother would say.


Okay. One more thing. Can I tell you that I'm kind of proud for having rode it out, cantered him across and not was not scared?And I appreciate the comments that I might have the training chops to work on this. If I could do it over and over, have him confront that situation repeatedly and ride it out, AND if I could maintain that neutron bomb persona for even 70% of the time it might work.

I just don't know if I can, or want to be that intense, take the time (years - I was really hoping to ride in some environment that would undoubtedly melt him down), and risks involved.

As Mrs Mom says "we don't bounce like we used to."

Stupid horse.


Mrs Mom said...

Riding is supposed to be F-U-N.

There are a lot of horses out there who are like your guy (*coughcough* got one myself... *sigh*)

But I know for a fact that the good ones - who DO make it fun- are out there too.

If it isn't FUN, and it isnt going to be about FUN.... then something in the equation needs adjusting.

Dont get hurt. Dont hurt the horse. And remember-- this is supposed to be FUN.

Hang tough. BTW--- way proud of you for riding that mess out!

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts all. I've been thinking more about your situation, and it occurred to me that it's sort of similar to my situation with Lily. I bought her on the rebound after the death of my horse Promise. Lily would jump anything you pointed her at, with ease, was incredibly athletic and I liked her personality - she was very interactive. But the more I rode her the more I doubted my decision. For a warmblood/QH cross, and a massive horse at that, she was incredibly hot and took a huge amount of effort and skill to ride, every single time. No blopping around on a loose rein, no trail rides, no nothing - just very, very hard work by both of us every day. I could ride her for an hour and a half, working hard at the trot and canter, and she and I would both be dripping with sweat and she'd still be raring to go. I just wasn't having any fun, and never felt like I had a real bond with her. She was never going to be quiet enough to show in hunters, and also had some pretty good moves - a true capriole (not so hard to ride but a bit alarming particularly when it resulted in my head being near the arena lights) and a big bolt-and-buck that she rarely tried with me. She was also a "tester" like your guy - very strong-willed and dominant - and although I could deal with that too, I got tired of it. So I passed her to my older daughter who wanted to do jumpers, and that worked out perfectly, although she was still very difficult to deal with. We've since learned that horses from her grandsire's bloodlines are often very difficult rides, and are often only ridden by professionals - this is what makes them so competitive in the jumper ring.

A long story to make a short point - no matter how experienced or inexperienced a rider you are, and no matter if you are able to deal with what horse serves up or not, some horses just aren't right for some people. You've had a while with your guy, and if he's not the right one for you there's no need to feel like you have to keep him. There are lots of good, even great horses out there, and riding should be a pleasure, not a chore. For some riders, dealing with his issues might be a pleasure - but is that you?

Trailrider said...

I just think Cibolo has "the buck" in him. It's his way to express frustration, and I don't think it's going away anytime soon. And based on my limited time seeing him in action and riding him, I concur he is going to be one of those daily "testers" and needs a firm hand. His previous owner told you as much as well.

I am going to stick by the opinion that you need a horse for a beginner/intermediate rider, based on what you've told me you want to do with your horse and based on your temperament and how I've seen you interact with horses.

Greener riders need experienced horses. Only the most experienced riders should take on green-broke horses.

I'm proud of you for riding Cibolo and cantering him after the buck, but staying on him had more to do with luck than skill. Any horse will buck you off if they work hard enough. One or two more bucks, and you'd have been off Cibolo. I've seen far better riders than you get bucked off horses. In fact, I think I'd rather just see you get bucked off and hit the ground to just get that over with. Because sooner or later, it happens to all riders.

Staying on Cibolo during a buck does NOT make you an advanced rider. Knowing how to collect your horse, ride with an independent seat, cue your horse to depart in the correct lead and know how to correct him when he does not, canter in controlled circles, yield hindquarters from the saddle, get the front end to cross over from the saddle, back up in circles using leg cues, rate all gaits, THOSE are the kinds of things I think make a rider "advanced" and knowledgeable in how to get the most out of their horse. And asking and teaching your horse how to do all those things is part of what tells your horse you are in charge, you are the boss.

A dead-broke, finished horse will do most of these things without you having to teach them, because they already know how. Because if you don't ALREADY know how to do these things, or ride with people you can learn from, you are NOT going to be able to effectively teach your horse to do these things. You and the horse will get frustrated, and in Cibolo, because he's got the buck in him, this will result in bucking behavior.

You've ridden Canyon and Cibolo as your primary mounts for years now. Neither of those horses has taught you enough, because neither was a dead-broke horse that could teach you. I feel your growth as a rider has been stunted because of those horses.

When I say you need a dead broke horse suited for a beginner/intermediate rider, I say that not to put you down, but because MOST people think they can take on more horse than they should. AND because a dead-broke horse does NOT imply a dead head horse with a spiny back and past his prime. It simply means a horse that has been there and done that, so that when you cue them for an action, they respond, and when you screw up-they forgive you and show you how you should have cued them. And they don't do more than swish their tail in frustration.

Breathe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cara said...

A good match is important. It's hard to recognize when a horse is not a good match and move on.

Breathe said...

Mrs Mom - I agree. I'm never going to have a whole bunch of horses. I'm going to have one for me and one for someone else. So it's got to be the right one.

I do think I rode it out pretty decent. But if he'd gotten that third on in... woo, howdy, I'd have been on the ground.

Kate - I have to say I think you've nailed it. I could be this horse's owner, but it will always be the kind of relationship I don't really want with a horse. I don't think we can get to the place I'd like to be with a horse. He needs a demanding owner, I need an eager to please horse. I know they are out there, I have one...

Breathe said...

TR: His previous owner told me AFTER I'd been through it with him several times (just for the record).

Staying on during the bucks doesn't take a good rider, but sticking those squirts takes a decent seat. And you're right, I can't progress as a rider if I've got this number of issues to deal with.

I'm perfectly fine with a horse like Woody, for example. As you said, he takes care of his rider, doesn't take advantage of his rider (generally).

My challenge is at this point I only believe horses I know well. I knew Lily, and got exactly what I thought I was getting. A slightly charging horse, with a tendency to get a princess attitude.

I really can't imagine going out and buying another horse. It's fun shopping, but if it's not a horse I know well, having watched it in numerous situations, I can't imagine making a sound decision.

Cara - You're right. You have to swallow some pride too.

Funder said...

I'm just getting caught up on your adventures. Wow, good job riding out his temper tantrum! I have no advice about bucking - TWHs don't usually buck. One of the great features of the breed.

I think the other commenters are right. If you don't want to be on your game constantly with Cibolo, sell him and get an "easier" horse. I definitely feel overhorsed quite often, but my mare's just willful, not dangerous. Bucking is dangerous. Life is short. Have fun with it!

One Red Horse said...

You have desribed many positive things about this horse. Are there other options here? Are you working with a trainer? If so, what is their take on this.

Katharine Swan said...

TR would have a field day with me, since I am a beginning/intermediate rider with a young horse. He's probably still considered greenbroke, but he's matured a lot in the last 6 months. Not before I suffered a few falls, though.

But I think Kate nailed it when she talked about having a bond with a horse. Panama and I have a strong bond, and I think that's what got us through his early training with me in one piece. (That, and I'm still young enough to bounce.) The simple fact that he genuinely doesn't want to hurt me has inspired him to learn how to take better care of his rider.

It also helped immensely that I have had an awesome trainer this entire time. She started him under saddle, and has been giving me lessons ever since. She has taught me not only how to ride, but also how to ride a young horse. Bond or not, I never could have managed Panama without her guidance!

Maia said...

Back in the day when I had my first horse an off the track thourobred, I boarded him at a racehorse farm. Rosie, the farm owner was a horse whisperer. She told me, "You can beat a horse. You can scream at him, and eventually he will obey. He will also try and get you every chance he can, or his spirit will be so broken, you won't like what you have. What you need, that most folks won't do, is patience, kindness, calmness and consistency. It takes time. If you do it. You will bond with your horse." If your horse is too scary to train, find one who's not. Life is too short to spend it scared and fighting.

Miles On Miles said...

TR is right that ideally we should all be riding horses we are suited to. Unfortunately, there are so many mitigating circumstances that sometimes it doesn't happen like that. It doesn't mean the relationship can't work or a person is held back by the horse-I think some horses MAKE you a better rider because you HAVE to be if you want to ride them, or at least ride them well. But I digress.
HorseCentric, I think you write very well about your experience and seem very self-aware and conscience of your problems and issues with the horse. Best of luck no matter what you decide-I think you will make the right decisions for you and your horse. And hell YES you should be proud of how you handled that situation! I think you couldn't have handled it better, and it IS important to ride out a buck or bucks if possible, because getting rid of the rider (in most cases) is just what the horse wants to do:)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I second what Kate says. She's right on the money and is asking you the perfect question for you to ask yourself.


Freelance Freeman said...

I agree with Mrs Mom--it should be fun and Moms are NOT allowed to get hurt.

They say horses that do not want to go FORWARD buck and those who do not want to be held back rear.

Sounds like Cibolo does not want to do stuff that is not really his idea.

I do not think it will be fun FOR YOU to have to be that Beatch all the time he needs you to be.

Red has bucked with me a few times and I finally learned it was the saddle pinching him.

Still it was upsetting when it happened, and I understand a lot of how you're feeling.