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_helen_

A New Way to Fail

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Apologies, caution: long and ranty post. :blink:

 

Tetley and I have been working thru our  Level 1 HW cards for a little while and it's one step forward, two steps back. But, overall, I've been really happy with his progress and I've seem some glimpses of the brilliant horse I know he can be.

After about 5 days off I made time for Tetley again. He'd been going really well lately, so I figured he'd deserved it, and allow time for the ideas to sink in. He'd also recieved his regular accupunture treatment in this time. (Shuddup... I know... but it does help keep him sound and he looooves it.) Soundness/ soreness issues is something we battle constantly. But, once again, he'd been brilliant.  Soft, responsive, forward, tracking up (on a long lunge.)

Tonight, however, was a whole new level of fail for us :rolleyes:

Ears pinned, teeth gnashing, tail swishing, humping, short stepping, barging around, refusing to go forward, neck braced, trying to piss off... All not unheard of, but unexpected as we hadn't seen this behaviour for a while. I go into my usual cycle of, 'crap, his back is out again, his sore in his stifles/ wither/beck/poll/hocks/sarco etc etc.... Just as well I've got the chiro out tomorrow to see him.' (Again, shuddup... when was the last time I saw a chiro? Um, never....)

But I stand my ground. I ask politely. I protect my space confidently. I accept the slightest try. I keep the work easy, but interesting. You can see he'd much rather be with his mates on the other side of the rail (this is not unsual, but I can normally regain his focus.) 

After I'd thwarted some of the naughtiness, he'd actually given me some semi decent work. And I was preparing to wrap it up there and try again tomorrow. I'd suspected he'd hurt himself in the paddock, as his whole system seemed out of whack. But then next minute, 16 odd hands of Thoroughbred threw himself down on the ground and started rolling vigourously. He's never done this before. And we regularly access sand to work in!

Now I'm thinking, 'crap - colic, ulcers, twisted/ reptured insides...'(can we see a pattern developing here? Hahaha over protective horse parent!) He gets up, has a big shake, has a big yawn, has a big chew, his eye is soft and respiration normal. I let him stand for a l-o-n-g time to just chill. 

That's fine, that's all good, he seems happy. 

I ask him Tetley to step off again and he shakes his head and stomps his foot. (Also new, for a simple walk off, anyway.) I figure, we'll walk around in a circle, try a few steps of trot, and we'll call it done. Objective achieved with a minimum of fuss, cool. Start walking toward the gate. Tetley stops just before the gate and I can feel he wants to roll again so I quickly slip off the halter and step outside the gate, leaving him in the grass arena. He immediately drops and rolls, flipping over back and forward before springing to his feet, lauching into orbit, throws 3 double barrel broncs that'd make Curio blush, trots to the opposite corner, head down, munch munch munch.

There ain't nothing wrong with that friggin' horses' back.

I fix the gates so he can access water and walk away because I'm beat, it's just about dark and I haven't a Scooby Doo clue what to do with my pony now.

Incidentally, anyone want to buy an athletic TB? Asking for a friend...:D

 

 

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Hi Helen

Good for you for sharing and getting some frustration off your chest.  That's one of the reasons we are all here to support each other so we can move on before we go back to our horses.  Also good to see you have maintained a sense of humour :D 

First of all, I think we have all been there worrying that our horse is sore / sick etc and that is because we care and because we want to listen to our horses.  That is a good trait to have.  However, it can have knock-on effects.  Essentially, it can create doubt as to what we are asking for and that diminishes our leadership. It is no coincidence that Leadership is the title of the first module in the programme.  Without it, we can have little positive influence on our horses as they are either completely indifferent to us or, worse, nervous and unsafe with us.  

So what to do if we get a sense that something is not right? Like you say - when was the last time you saw a chiro?  Do you throw tantrums when somebody asks something of you? Do you scream and shout and throw yourself on the floor? Presumably not.(Perhaps you do! They say our horses mirror us!:lol:) The point I'm making is that even if he is sore, wouldn't it be good if he had the emotional fitness to try anyway, just a little; to think his way through the situation an not just react? If you keep that in mind next time there is a modicum of doubt, it might just help you to maintain that leadership.  To be fair, it sounds as if you know all that but when his first card didn't win the trick, he played the joker and got you! 

If he tries to roll on the end of the rope again, stop him!  Or get him up as quickly as you can and give him something to do.  Rolling is absolutely not an option.  Imagine if you were riding him! 

So, what to do next?  Well luckily, every day is a new day and we get to start again :cowboy: Every day we have to work with the horse we have today. So move on.. don't go out there worrying if it's going to happen again.  If you think it's behavioural and not physical, keep him busy.  Make sure you are being interesting (these wonderful creatures are way quicker than we are and can get bored very easily - this is a constant challenge for me with my mare).  Film something to submit for feedback - it may be that your coach will see something and can help you - perhaps you are giving your horse mixed messages with your position. If you get stuck, consider getting live help from a QS professional (Instructor or Horse Trainer) sooner rather than later.

Tell your friend ;) that the good news is that the programme is designed to help us through all this and the further you progress the less likely this behaviour becomes.  So, he/she should keep at it and get through level 1 asap. 

 

 

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Good tips from Alexia here.

There is always the option of getting help from a QS approved horse trainer :thumbsup:

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Hey Helen,

I second what Alexia said :)  

The question of pain is always a reason for behaviour and if I may share some things I have found with all the training I have done with horses?

Mostly if there is pain, then you would notice a reaction of some type or reluctance to do something consistently after a certain action - such as going over the jumps, canter transition, yielding their hindquarters.  Something that causes them to use their body in a certain way that causes the pain, not necessarily from just asking them to walk forward unless something is really bad but I think you would see that when he is moving around in the paddock.

It sounds like you are taking good care of him physically and after 5 days off, he might have liked his holiday :) Plus you gave him LOTS of comfort for rolling and he did it again and you let him go.  Pretty sure he will try that again so as Alexia said, step up ask him to go and no comfort for trying to roll.  You are in charge.  

Once you work through who is in charge then look for things that he may be struggling to do, to let you know if there is a physical problem.  It can sometimes be a tough call deciding if something is your leadership or a physical problem for the horse. So make sure you are asking nicely and confidently, and have a good look for the things I mentioned above.  And yes, filming some assignments so your coach can check out what is going on can help you in making that decision too.  

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Hi!

Ditto to what the others say.

Am with Mel regarding the physical reluctance and/or reaction consistently to what is asked if there's a physical problem.

As Shane says, you can ask a professional QS horse trainer to have a look at him and train him for a couple of days. We can usually spot whether the horse has a physical problem somewhere and if it will improve through the training that we offer....it usually does :) .

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Hey Helen,

Thanks for sharing your story and great advice and conversation has come out of your situation. Our professional team have given up some good advice, the only thing that I can add is, there are moments during our horsemanship journey that our horses really challenge us on who is in charge, you mentioned a few steps forward and then a few steps back, this does seem to be consistent throughout our programme for most of us as we are learning, particularly in the beginning. It is our horses job to keep asking us to step up and become that leader that they will depend upon. Frustrations will come and go and become less in time. Use all the support that is around you and behavior like this will slowly dissipate.

Keep focused on your goal Helen and keep us all updated :)

 

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Thanks for the input guys.

Especially Alexia, your thoughtful reply (and so soon after 'The Incident') was very comforting to me while I was having a tantrum ;)  I have read and re-read your post numerous times now.  Thank you.

Waiting on my next lot of feedback and liasing with my wonderful coach, Elise.

Tomorrow is another day! :horse:

 

 

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You're very welcome, Helen. That's what the forum is all about.  

Great news that you have something in for feedback and Elise nearby to help you.

Keep using the whole programme and the support network and you'll find your way through this. :)

 

 

 

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