Tuesday, August 16, 2011

End of the road

I'm really sad, but not at all surprised that I am writing this post.  

We have tried to help Boomer for over 3 years and he just is who he is.  Unfortunately, his bad habit is dangerous.  

For those of you who have been following the blog for a while, you know we have had our ups and downs.  I have always kept trying and kept giving Boomer more chances to prove himself.  

The fact is that he is an incredible athlete.  I know he could be a star.  He is totally capable of being a 100 mile horse.  He could probably do Tevis. I am amazed at his ability and strength.  

Unfortunately, he is reactive.  I wouldn't even say that he is spooky.  When something happens to upset him or doesn't go his way, he reacts in a big and dangerous way.  This manifests as either pulling back while tied or throwing himself over backwards.  

I have tried avoiding situations that make him flip, which does work to an extent, but makes me miserable to be walking on eggshells around him.  We have thrown countless dollars in training at him to no change.  

Our trainer agrees, he isn't scared.  He gets mad.  

I think that someone with more time, confidence, and knowledge could give Boomer a great home and use him to his potential.  

I am just no longer able to feel safe around him.  I have spent the last few weeks thinking of what I need to feel safe with him.  I need to hear the words "He is cured, he will never pull back or blow up again".  No one can tell me that.  He went almost 2 years without pulling back.  No one can guarantee that he will never blow up again, because he does it in protest, not out of fear.  

If it was fear, it would be something that sacking-out or exposure could fix.  

Unfortunately, my confidence has taken a pretty big hit in this process.  I have a bit of fear and anxiety now around all horses.  I feel like I am just waiting for them to blow up and flip over in the cross ties or whatever.  

I need to take a step back and just take lessons for a while to rebuild my confidence.  Maybe try a new discipline and ride a few solid horses.  I'm not looking to own another horse anytime soon.  Our next horse will be one that I can actually enjoy and is also safe for our whole family.  

By all means, if you think you can help this horse and give him the home he needs, please contact me.  He is dangerous on the ground and I have no doubt that he will hurt someone someday.  He is also a dream to ride and learns quickly.  He is built for endurance and will do great things in the endurance world.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boot Camp Breakthrough

First day at the trainers, Boomer tried to hang himself on the hitching post.  Not sure exactly what happened, but Trainer had to cut the rope to free him.  I asked if he was scared or being bad.  She said that she would understand if he was scared, but he was just mad that she was pushing and he pushed back, and she didn't relent, so he threw a tantrum.  He was even trying to kick her as she was cutting the rope.  Classy.  

John and I have both seen this in him.  When you ask him to do something and he says no.  You better drop it or else he is gunna get mad.  When he gets mad, his general response is to blow backwards as hard as possible.  Luckily, Trainer isn't a wuss and she kept pushing.  

After this, she tossed him in the round pen with a tarp.  He proceeded to run through the panels and escape.  He scraped up his front leg.  His reward was to be tied to a tree, away from the barn, in a pasture of llamas.  Apparently, he stood quietly for the remainder of the afternoon.  

Next day, he got tied up to have his leg hosed.  He stood dead still for that (!!!) and also stood dead still for the next 6 hours while a variety of tractors and 4-wheelers buzzed by all afternoon.  

We think he knows.  

I am glad that he had such big blow-ups right away.  At first, I was disappointed, but John pointed out that it is a really great sign that Trainer is pushing all of the right buttons.  She knows first hand what she is working with and can quickly set goals.

3 days down...  57(?) to go...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boomer goes back to Boot Camp!

I think we all knew it was in the cards for Boomer.  At some point he was going to need a tune up.  

As far as riding was going, he was doing great.  Better each time I rode him and we were having a blast.  However, his ground manners were shit.  Also, he knows exactly how to manipulate me.  

When riding, I have stopped being afraid of him and have gained enough confidence to push him through and silliness.  So, he has pretty much stopped trying.  

On the ground, he knows that all he has to do is give something the hairy eye, or twitch the wrong way and I will untie him right away and hurry up the tacking up process.  

I'll give a quick synopsis of his shenanigans in the last few months.  The first time I went to ride him after 6ish months off, he was great for both tacking up and riding.  We did one easy lap around the pond.  Second time, he pulled back when I walked towards him with the saddle.  He spooked when I threw the pad over his back and raised his head so that I couldn't bridle him.  Third time I just got on bareback since I didn't want to tack him up.  When I got the new saddle, I had to saddle him up in a small paddock for the first 6-8 times because he was spooky like he had never seen a saddle before.  He would run backwards as I would approach, would skitter sideways as I tried to adjust the saddle.  It really pissed me off.  

I really don't think any of this is a pain issue as he is a gem once we are riding.  Granted, I have recently discovered how crooked I am.  This surely causes him discomfort.  However, he is NOT the kind of horse who would ignore or be passive if it were so painful he didn't want to work.  He is fun and happy for our whole ride.  He doesn't move while I mount up and doesn't resist under saddle.  When my saddle fit poorly before as his topline developed, he would stand tense under me while I mounted and would shake his head and swish his tail.  

The final straw was a few weeks ago, I threw the saddle over his back and he spooked into me at the cinch and stirrup falling on the other side.  He stepped on my foot, the saddle fell off, and he almost ran me over.  He had been getting SO MUCH BETTER about being saddled too.  For the last few weeks he was standing still the whole time I saddled him, like he SHOULD.  Well, it didn't end there.  

The barn owner came over and held him for me so that I could resaddle.  I got him cinched up and the barn owner walked off to finish chores.  Boomer was standing with his head down and a calm expression.  I asked him to move around me in a circle, as I always do, to get him to unbloat so that I can finish tightening the cinch.  Well, instead of moving forward, he froze and flew backwards.  He fell onto his side and then hopped back up.  The lead rope never even pulled through my hand.  It was like he had pulled back, but there was never an ounce of pressure on his face.  He scratched up my brand new saddle.  He also scratched up his knees and hock.  

I was ready to send him through auction at that point.  

I have NO desire to have such an unpredictable animal.  None.  I don't care what his reasons are for being a fruit.  I expect him to behave like any other normal horse.  If he can not behave like a normal horse, we are done.  No excuses.  

So, to boot camp he goes.  

I told our trainer that I need her to find out if this is a behavioral thing that can be trained out or if it is a mental thing and is just who he is.  

Last time he went to her, it was primarily for riding issues.  We have had no problems with riding since he returned in November of 2009.  I have high hopes that she can knock some sense into him.  

For the record, this is not a natural horsemanship, hugs and kisses type of blog.  If you don't want to read about my horse getting 'cowboyed up' go somewhere else.  I know this animal well enough to know that he is smart.  He takes advantage.  He needs to be knocked down a peg.  I have allowed him to believe he is above me on the food chain and he is about to learn the hard way that he is, in fact, pretty damn low on the totem pole.