Thursday, February 3, 2011

Caution: Swearing

For those of you who are new to this blog, a warning. I swear like a sailor when I've had a bad day. Today. Today was a very bad day. If swear words bother you. Stop reading now.

To sum up today: FUCK!

My kiddos at work were NUTS!! I had one scale a 5 ft fence and take off running down the street. That was the low point of our crazy day. I'm lucky that my assistants are so good, I'd quit without them.

After work I had a meeting, and decided to run out to see Denali. The vet said she'd be there at 6:15, and I was about 15 minutes early. I decided to go get Denali and let her run around. My first time getting her without anyone there. I walked up to the field, and couldn't see any horses at all in the dark. I yelled her name, and like a good girl she came up to the fence. Yay! Good girl.

I took her into the arena, took her blanket off and let her have her wiggles out. About that time the vet showed up and we decided to take her into the round pen. I worked with her on walk/trot/canter transitions. (Canter ONLY because she was so full of beans she was breaking into it anyway, so I made it my idea.)  She was a good girl and listened so well. Yay! Good girl!

We saddled her up and I worked her again in the round pen. She listened and was very responsive on the ground. Yay! Good girl!

At this point we put the bridle on her, I threw on my helmet (always, ALWAYS Key!) and went to mount Denali for the first time since September. Well. Does anyone remember what I said I hope Denali never learns??



Does this help remind you?

How about this photo??

That my blog following friends is Denali, bucking. This time however, picture me attempting to get on her. I had my foot in the stirrup, and was *almost* on when she had a bucking fit. She has NEVER bucked, and I have never been on a bucking horse. Since I was not totally on, I didn't stay on her and bit the dust (but let's not kid ourselves...I would have never stayed on her.) I saw her hoof 2 inches from my face and prayed that she'd keep it at least 2 inches from my face. Luckily she didn't kick out at all, which is her normal play bucking routine. I ate the arena footing but luckily it's like a giant mattress and the only thing that hurts is my arm from trying to block my fall.

Am I pleased? Nope. Not at all. Fucking pissed is the best way to put it.

Am I mad at her? No! How could I be? I obviously have done something to totally freak her out. (Gee, I wonder...)  We've had problems in the past when I've gone to mount her and dismount. She's gotten tense in the past, and once has bunny hopped when I got off.

However, whatever the problem, bucking is not okay.

So now what? Well, I didn't want her to think that bucking me off was okay, but I also didn't want to get on her. Large problem right? I made her stand still and I put my weight in the stirrup and laid over her back. She stood still, I gave her scratches, and hoped back off.

I asked the vet, "It wasn't a big buck right? Just a baby buck."

Nope, nada, full on bronco buck. At least I know she has skills. Fuck.

I'm so fucking pissed off at myself. I've ruined my horse. She came to me as a rescue, and I'm the one that has ruined her. She use to trailer like a pro, and you could hop on her from anywhere and she'd be fine. Nope. I've really fucked up. BIG TIME. I've made my horse terrified of trailers and trailering. I've caused her undue stress when I get on her (I guess coming off of her hasn't helped.) Bucking isn't acceptable, but it also tells me something. She doesn't buck with anyone else on her. She has NEVER bucked under saddle. Now I am worried that she will remember that bucking got me off. FUCK!!!!!

What now? Anyone else can get on her...but me. She has melt downs. Obviously I need to do more work with her. I honestly didn't think she'd melt down. It's been so long since I've been on her, and the vet has been riding her and she's been great. Stupid, stupid me.

This isn't something a trainer can fix. It doesn't help if other people can ride her. I need to be able to ride her. She's fine with anyone else. Tonight after I ate arena footing the vet got on her. Denali was a little snotty, but also really itchy.

I really hope that we can get through this. More groundwork I guess. What do you do when you're the one to fucking ruin your own horse? I can't give her away. I can't sell her. She requires so much upkeep and care that no one in their right mind would give her a good home. Seriously, the amount of money that goes into her each month. Hell, just in supplements, it is enough to make some people ill. I know how I feel when I get the bill.

I'm going to bed. I might just stay there for a few months.


Alanna said...

I can totally relate to feeling like I ruined my horse. Last spring my rescued tb mare was having lots of problems. I had one HORRIBLE night with her where I was lunging her (after several problems under saddle) and I was just bawling because I had just "ruined" my first horse. That is NOT a good feeling. There is nothing wrong with reaching a point where you realized that regardless of how much you love your horse, you may not be a good match....

Also, I totally understand the bucking thing too.

Hang in there. It's amazing how a good night's sleep can help put things in to perspective.

Lisa said...

Honestly, please don't beat yourself up over this... You DID NOT ruin your horse. Just because she bucked once when you attempted to get on her does not mean anything. It was just the day she decided to have a crack at it. If, for the next 5 rides she tries to buck when YOU get on, then maybe you can bring your theory back. Next time, have the vet get on first. Then you get on and I am sure you would have a different outcome.

That one buck could have been the result of almost anything. A bird in the corner of her eye, the saddle slipping when it normally doesn't, a bug, anything. Maybe she fed off your emotions? You need to get this out of your mind before the next time you work with her.

Also, a big WELL DONE for going back, putting your foot in the stirrup, and leaning over her. That is probably why she didn't buck for the vet.

Barbara said...

One bucking incident does not make a ruined horse.
You haven't been on her since September, you are not a professional rider. Simply have someone hold her for you and climb on, and off and on and off. Ride a few minutes, get off. Have someone hold her, get on. TEACH her that she must stand still for you, don't assume anything.
She will be fine, you will be fine, do a little more cursing and get on with it. Groundwork will not fix this. Don't think you have to do it by yourself, get a helper to hold her.

Minus Pride said...

It sounds like you need a visit from Pia's Supermom!!! You can do this and you can't think of it as all your fault!!!
Put a western saddle on that girl and climb on up like you pay all her bills and you bought the saddle...because you did!!! If everyone else can hop on her with no issues, it's probably your confidence and leadership she's looking for!!!
Everyone has off days, but dont let this get you down!!!!

wendyu said...

Keep the faith. I bet she senses you're tense and reverts to bad behavior because she's anxious about what you're going to ask her.

Start giving yourself affirmation talks and start laughing more. This too shall pass!!

Karen said...

I think you are being too hard on yourself!! If this hasn't been normal for Denali, perhaps something was under the saddle pad? Something pinching her? Maybe she was just fresh. It does not mean you ruined your horse. I promise!

la mexicana said...

It sounds like Denali has TB mare syndrome. She does not hate you! TB mares are very sensitive creatures. Not only are they too smart for their own good, they are masters at manipulation.

Denali has her small group of people that she trusts enough to ride her. For whatever reason, you aren’t currently on her list. She sees you as her maid, providing her whatever monetary or physical service she might need at the moment. I think you are right that you need to do more ground work with her. She needs to build a relationship with YOU. The thing is, as a TB, Denali needs to be worked a lot. To get where you want to be YOU probably need to work with her 4 – 6 days every week. Perhaps you’ll need to consider moving her closer to your house (or change houses) so that you’ll be able to work with her more. I know boarding situations are tough, but it seems like the best option.

I’ve been in your shoes. I had a mare just like Denali that would rear and buck when she didn’t feel she was being treated according to her mood that day. We worked her through it though. She was so smart that she knew a bad horse owner when she saw one. When we were trying to sell her, some dudes came out that didn’t know how to ride and had no business around thoroughbreds. As they were getting ready to leave, she reared up and did this Lone Ranger maneuver with her front feet. It totally freaked them out. That was her way of saying No No NO! (It was kinda funny after the fact, but not really) :)

Judi said...

Who knows waht brought that on, but don't be too hard on yourself. She might be fine the next time you try.

Have you considered clicker training? It changes the conversation from "If you do this, I will stop irritating you" to "This is what you need to do if you want a treat."

The reason I am suggesting it, si because I am training a 4-year-old who had never been ridden before I started. I had wonderful success with my previous horse to convince him to allow medical treatment when he was in a lot of pain.

Anyway, I decided to use it training Cole. In a very short time, he learned to stand when I mount, and stay standing for as many minutes as I want--and I don't always click and give him a treat for it anymore.

Clicker changes attitudes. It isn't necessary to train a horse, but it sure makes it easier.

Checkmark115 said...

oh man :(
I don't what advice to give here
but I know how when something is an issue, I stress over it more and it explodes into an even bigger issue and then its just a snowball and gets worse and worse and IDK how to stop it. So I know how you feel. I'm sorry :(

achieve1dream said...

I'm so sorry that happened. :( Please don't blame yourself and beat yourself up like this though. It's not as if you did anything intentionally. You don't starve your horse, beat your horse, or anything like that. She's healthy and happy. You both just have fear issues you need to work on and guilt isn't going to help with that. I wish I could give you a big hug. What did the vet say about the whole thing? Does she think it's your fear? Or did something else trigger it? Please keep us updated.

SprinklerBandit said...

I know you're pissed and it's super hard to process right now, but SLOW DOWN.

You did not ruin your horse.

You did not cause this problem.

It can be fixed.

You can fix it.

She hates trailering because every time she gets on a trailer, she goes to the vet. That's because she keeps breaking herself, not because you're some sort of sociopathic nutjob.

She bucked you off--horses do that sometimes. Did you scare her? Maybe. Do you need to work with her more? Absolutely. Is it your fault and she is a horrible, unfixable, broken thing? No way.

You have taken incredible care of her to this point. Her medical issues finally seem to be resolving. Now just take it slow and easy on the training side, just like you did with the medical issues, and you'll get there. I know you can do it.

Sarah said...

SprinklerBandit said it better than I ever could...

You didn't ruin her. You are the best thing that every happened to that horse, are you kidding?

I think you guys just need more time together...once or twice a week is so much better than nothing, but during this time in her life she might need to see you more consistently to be able to work with you.

I know you don't want to get on her again, believe me, but you don't want mounting issues to fester either-believe me on that, too:) If you can do lots of weight-bearing with her, leaning over her back, getting on/getting off, I think that would do lots of good for both of you.

I hope the bucking was just a freak thing that she did for some reason totally unrelated to you. Even if she did do it because it was you getting on and not someone else, it can be fixed, like others said. I hope you're feeling better about it today!

MyHorseFaith said...

I just texted you- but seriously, you did not ruin your horse. TB's are funny creatures.

I can say, from personal experience, training CAN and WILL help. Your situation is special because of the medical issues. But DO.NOT.DISCOUNT. the power of a good trainer.

Those good, effective training rides will help Denali learn what is expected ALL THE TIME, FROM EVERYONE. It will help build up her tolerance and promote good behavior.

Yes, you still have to build up a relationship with her. Yes, you have to put in the work. But a good third party will go a long way in helping the both of you.

I agree- have the vet ride first. She's awesome- we both know it- and it'll put you AND Denali in the right frame of mind for the next step- which is you working with her.

Mare said...

Woah there! You are not "ruining her!" You haven't been on her since September, and my guess is it's just a confidence thing you your part...

I've totally been there though, feeling like you've ruined your horse. I was riding one day about a month ago, and my complete sweetheart of a horse was acting like a B****. I sobbed the entitre ride I was so frustrated, but my best friend was there and she made me get my mare to listen. I had to put my emotions aside and let my horse know that we weren't ending on a bad note....You can't do everything by yourself, so get someone to help you!


Hugs to you!

Gingham said...

Bah. What a day. I empathize. (obviously). I'm gonna throw my vote in the "not ruined" category, but she also isn't translating your groundwork into you being in charge all the time.
I was shocked with P to figure out that even though I that i was being assertive, her little dino brain was still processing HER in charge, and HER deciding when to buck or complain. Witch. You'll get it with her, she just needs some talking to.

Word Verification: Dingrag. As in, My horse was a total Ding-rag last night...

Annette said...

STOP beating yourself up! She came to you from the field, she was good in the roundpen, she obviously likes you just fine. Does her saddle fit? If it is uncomfortable or pinching then when you get on it could really hurt. I would rule that out first. I had a psycho OTTB at one point. He was psycho on the ground and under saddle. Denali doesn't strike me as psycho. I'm guessing it's pain.

allhorsestuff said...

WOW, tons of great things said here( YOU DID NOT RUIN YOUR MARE!) and I mostly agree with Sprinkler B. and some others that mentioned the fact she has been off and you have been off + sensitive, reactive, TB MARE stuff.

I will only give you the advise I am living ...having a TB mare that was extemely abused come to me and now I am -convincing her slowly- I had nothing to do with it. She does hold anyone who rides her responsible for it too that differance, lets me off the hook.
And the fact she is an angel on the trail, aside from being competitive.

blaw blaw...all that to say, consistant, calm, assured actions and responses.
It is sooo tough when you see your life flash before your eyes, as I have many, many times.
But having someone on the ground and helping me is how I choose to go it in the arena...short possitive rides in there and BORE THEM WITH THE DETAILS. My way is easy your way is difficult.

Denali is a smart mare and like mine, senses your tense apprehension. It's hard, I know but breathe, laugh, talk do it again!

Hang in, I do understand, believe me, I am blamed constantly for my mare's angry attitude and it hurts my spirit. I've have to disengage from those who "don't understand all they think they know about my situation".

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

1st off..I totally made a PitaPaya too..I loved yours!
2nd-You didn't ruin Denali.
These are challenging animals and she was using a buck as some form of communication. By working on your language together, you will figure this out. Maybe more ground work will help establish that. Maybe just working on putting one foot (sorta for quick bail option) in stirrup is all she can handle right now.
Don't get discouraged!

eventer79 said...

Nope, I'll be another of good horse people to tell you -- you did NOT ruin Denali.

And I am glad I am not the only one who screams curse words when I get pissed.

I do know how you feel. There was a time when I didn't canter Solo for almost a year and I told myself I was a failure of a rider and that I had ruined a good horse.

It wasn't true for me and it's not true for you.

Denali is a smart mare. You know what smart mares are good at? Training and manipulating people. She is hard at work training YOU.

You are nervous around her -- who wouldn't be? I would if I'd had your experience too. I wonder -- is there a horse at your vet's place that you can ride maybe once a week to build up your confidence? I know that you feel your confidence issues are Denali specific, but I think a weekly good ride will set you up to be much stronger around Denali too.

We have to be patient with ourselves. We get angry, we get frustrated and we beat ourselves up (oh, I am a PRO at this one!). My chiropractor is trying to work with me know to give myself a break, BREATHE, and be patient with the healing process. I am desperately struggling with it, but he is right, as much as I hate to admit it.

Be patient with yourself, forgive yourself, don't hold yourself responsible for your horse doing something naughty. She's a strong-willed thing with her own brain. Mistakes, bad days, more bad days -- these things happen and they happen a LOT. I think the telling this is that you, like any good horse person, recognizes when things go badly, think about it, process it (after we scream a lot), think some more about what we can do differently, and we learn and adapt. That recognition-thinking process means that you are doing it RIGHT.

Hugs from me and Solo, the redheaded beast who has in the past made me scream "fuck!" more times than I count!

Ms Martyr said...

I don't think Denali is ruined either, especially since she's willing to let others ride her. I would do some soul searching and determine if you're not still subconsciously afraid of her after that trailer wreck. She could be picking up on that and be unwilling to let you mount/ride her. It sounds like this is going to need to be a gradual process. I agree with the suggestions that it would be helpful if you could interact with her more often. She is somewhat a different horse than when you first left her there, now has pasture pals, etc., so you need to learn to relate with the "new and improved" Denali.

Dom said...

I'm with everyone else. You're being too hard on yourself. I'd see if you can get someone to work with you from the ground... someone who can walk you through it out loud (you'd be surprised how much that helps) and help you calm your nerves. That way you can build your confidence with her until you don't need supervision. You two have been through too much to let this stop you. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

If it's any consolation, you're not alone. I'm shareboarding a nice OTTB mare from my trainer. And last summer, I thought I had ruined her. God, we were a mess. Mounting block issues. Respect issues. Ground manners issues. My come-to-Jesus moment was after we went to our first show. Things hadn't been great before and while no one died or was injured, we didn't have a great experience.

Simply put, the mare had my number. She knew my confidence was wavering, and this is a horse that looks to her leaders for confidence, and if there isn't any to be had, she starts losing her marbles. I had to regain control and respect, fast. I focused on groundwork, and establishing myself as boss. And, good news, I've become a much better, more aware horsewoman, and have the confidence to work with the mare safely and effectively.

The good news for you, I think, is that like me, you know it's you. You have proof. She's good for everyone else. Terrible feeling, I know, but at least you have a starting point. You WILL make it through this!!!

in2paints said...

First off, I'm glad you weren't hurt! Secondly, you didn't ruin your horse... you LOVE that horse and she loves you. That's quite clear. You've done so much for her!

Who knows what happened, but I wouldn't say you've ruined her because she decided to buck one time. I'd be willing to bet that if the vet had got on her first, Denali would have bucked with her too!

She's got so much going on right now that it's impossible to figure out why it happened, but when you got on the second time she was good, right? I think it was just something that happened.

Please don't be so hard on yourself... even for me to say, I know, but it's true. I hope you're in better Denali spirits soon.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I thought I ruined my ottb too. The situation really was that I needed to be the leader, and I had unrealistic expectations, because he was my first horse and I didn't know any better.

Lots of (patient) groundwork was the key for me. I repeat patient... be patient with her, and most importantly with yourself. You can do it!

WishIHadAHorsey said...

I don't have a horse but work with people who are incredibly hard on themselves so I will say "Listen to the horse people who tell you that you didn't ruin her!" Please stop beating yourself up, you need to stop being so hard on yourself.

Rebecca said...

Since everyone else has already covered Denali's "ruination", I'll leave that one alone. ;)

I'm just going to say that everyone needs to rant sometimes! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, remember that it can only get better after having one of those days.

Becky said...

Ohhh girl, how many times can I tell you I've beat myself up over ruining my horse? She can be a nasty little thing... I spoiled her rotten, let her run all over me, and now I have a pony who after a year of trying to correct it still has issues with personal space. I made her dangerous. She'd be a great little kids pony - except she bucks kids. (not adults... guess we're too heavy - hah) But seriously, you did not ruin your horse. (Nor did I - in all reality) No one is perfect, we all make mistakes & let me tell you - you have done FAR FAAAAAR more right by Denali than you could ever in a million years do wrong. A solitary bucking incident does not a "ruined horse" make. It could have been anything - really, REALLY. Don't let your fear get the best of you. You CAN do this. After all you've done for the darn horse, you deserve to be able to ride her. You will.

Gabriella Elise said...

Don't sweat! Things'll be okay in the end. Promise. :)

Btw... Im a new follower. Just letting you know.:)

Susan said...

Things will work out in the end. Just keep trying! I know it's hard. but they will. One buck doesn't mean you ruined your horse.

Just a Thought said...

I have read your bog back to front. I'm not even sure where I stumbled on it from, but I have found it a fascinating read.
One thing that occurs to me. You have an alpha mare that doesn't respect you. Part of it is your fear of her, but part of it is she doesn't look to you to be her leader. Someone else commented you're just the person that does things for her.
I don't know why it is, but Denali knows with you she can act up and misbehave.
No, I don't think she's ruined, nor do I think you have ruined her, and I don't think she;s too much horse for you. But I do think there is something in your relationship with her that needs to be fixed, especially as I don't recall this kind of behavior with her trainer.
Had you ruined your horse, she would be acting out with the trainer as well.
I also think the trust issue is going both ways, you don't trust her, so she doesn't trust you. You lack confidence in her, so she lacks confidence in you.
I don't know what can be done to fix your relationship, maybe talk with the trainer, both yours and hers. And I wish you the best of luck, this is one of my favorite blogs, and I'm rooting for you

(no need to print this, I just wanted to send a note to you)

Sharon said...

I'm going to put this out there.....I do Parelli with my horse and I am not in the habit of pushing any particular training method on anyone. There are many great practitioners out there and the choice is yours, but I chose to try Parelli and it has helped with everything from communication on the ground to riding in the saddle. I can honestly say that I have the kind of relationship I have always wanted with my horse, and we are still progressing.

The program sets you up for success on every level. It helps you to read your horse and gives you the tools to work with the horse that shows up.

I have been following your blog for quite some time and the one thing that's constant is it doesn't seem like you are progressing with Denali which I know can be frustrating. I've been there! and I hate to see people struggling when there is an answer.

I have watched friends struggle with the same issues day after day with their horses, they get hurt, disheartened, and end up sending their horses to a trainer. I wanted to have that relationship with my horse, I didn't want a trainer to have it.

Many will probably say that Parelli isn't the way, and I agree it's not for everyone, but at the end of the day, your not going to know unless you try it.

I wish you success with what ever you decide.