Monday, June 2, 2008

I Worry Sometimes...

I'm going to be short and sweet today, I've got to meet my farrier this morning. I've got a few wild and wacky weeks ahead of me, so I may be a bit sporadic. I should have lots of good stuff to think about though.
My big concern is a comment I got from Alyssa on my What I Learned from Captain post. Concerned enough to address it here instead of just commenting back at her.

I want to reiterate that wack job that Captain was, he never bucked, reared, struck, or showed any aggression to me.

He always put me in mind of an over eager Hari Krishna hitting me up at the airport.

He was consistently, day in and out, an idiot.

He still proved to be dangerous.

The horse Alyssa is talking about bucked, reared, spooked violently, and flipped over backwards on her. He is fifteen years old.

There is no question he is dangerous.

Alyssa is wracked with guilt because she feels she needs to save him.

There are some horse that we need to mourn and move on. Horse ownership is a huge responsibility. I'm glad Alyssa takes her responsibility so seriously.

Owning a horse should never entail risking our lives.

The horse has to return something in the relationship. Fear and potential death doesn't count.

How will you feel if he hurts or kills your friend?

My guess is much worse than you do now.

If you send him to the best trainer in the state and the trainer is hurt or killed, how will you feel then?

If you sell him to somebody else, even if you fully disclose his problems, and they get hurt or killed, how will you feel?

What do you do if you can only afford one horse, and he's it?

There are too few horse owners that accept the seriousness of owning a horse like you do. The good ones deserve to be owned by you.

The bad ones do not.

The one regret that Captain's owner still has is that she gave him away. She worries that he will hurt the John Lyons trainer. She worries that he will end up at a sale. She worries that the trainer will succeed in riding him, and discover how delightful he can be. Because then she will put someone up on him. We know how that goes.

She truly regrets not putting him down.

Please be careful Alyssa. In your choices, and with your own safety. The horse world needs you!


  1. Well said, necessary, and important.

    We love horses, and sometimes we get so love-blind that we forget things like this.

  2. This really made me think about the woman I work with. She loves horses to death. She loves her big crazy playful thoroughbred gelding that would rather play and accidentally hurt her.
    She keeps this horse because she knows it's her responsibility and doesn't want anyone else to be hurt by trying to ride him and him being goofy.
    He is an amazing horse and could have some amazing talent in the jumper ring.
    She hasn't ridden him in four years because every time he has hurt her.
    She rides other peoples horses any time they offer. She maybe rides 6 times a year at the most. She has the heart of a good horse owner, responsible but she deserves a good horse that will appreciate her riding and ground work she does with this nut job, even though she never rides him.

  3. It's such a hard thing, though.

    I had a TB gelding. He was my first horse and was a wonderful guy. Taught me a lot, a lot of fun, uber athletic - very nice horse. We did dressage and a little jumping and he treated me very well.

    But he was sensitive, and so the moment his saddle stopped fitting correctly, he started bucking. Hard. Took far too long for us to understand why he was bucking - and by then it was too late. It had become a habit. I became terrified of him. He finally bucked me off one day. I never got back on. He scared himself almost as much as he scared me and had a mini nervous breakdown. He started rearing. We nearly got evicted from our barn. I wouldn't go see him. I refused to go near him. Wouldn't even go feed him cookies over a stall door.

    But it took 4 months of this before my parents, barn owner and friends could convince me to sell him. And if I hadn't had them around, I might still have him today. Sort of terrifying to think about, actually.

    I don't know what it is with girls and horses, but we get these romantic ideas that -- even when things are the worst they've ever been -- that it will never get worse - that he can only get better - that he wouldn't dream of hurting me. I don't quite understand the delusion - even though that was exactly how I felt for four long, agonizing months before I finally sold him.

    The truth of the matter was that at that point, things could only have gotten WORSE - not better. No matter what I told myself - no matter how I tried to convince myself otherwise - it could never have ended well with that horse. And to this day I do not regret selling him - not for one moment - even though I sold him to a dealer and don't have the faintest idea where he is today. I wonder, sometimes, but I know that I did the only thing I could do.. and I know it was the right choice.

  4. Mugwumps,
    That was the best post concerning dangerous horses. Short and sweet and to the point.
    I completely concur with the opinion and I am very sympathetic because I am also nearing the end of my journey with one such horse myself. My mentor once stated (or maybe many times) "No horse is worth a human life." No matter how much you love horses you cannot really disagree with such a statement. Maybe as a single person with no other relationships you can have a slightly differing viewpoint on that. However, as a friend, spouse, mother, child, whatever, no horse is worth a human getting killed by it. That doesn't mean that the horse doesn't deserve respect! It just means that the human needs to step up and take the higher road and make the end of the horse's life as humane and as painless as possible. Humans created the messed up horse and the horse does not deserve ill treatment just because it is crazy, genetically messed up, unsound, etc.

  5. I think it's john lyons that says "no horse is worth breaking a baby finger over"

    How true.

  6. mugwump,
    I've been thinking a lot over the past few days about what you said in your comments to me in the "what I learned from captain" post. I've never spend so much time psyching myself up to not do something, but as fugs talks about with her blog on the VLC, there is this left-brain right-brain struggle in my mind. I think you're absolutely right about him, but, it isn't an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

    This horse has a home until the day he dies, for the most part he is just an extra mouth to feed, an extra stall to clean, an extra farrier visit, an extra shot from the vet etc. If we managed to convince ourselves (and I think we will) that he's not worth it, the only other thing to do will be to make sure that no one else decides to try to fix him either. It should be a no-brainer. We have six other horses to work with, plus client's horses, not to mention all the other aspects of our lives that need attending to. We keep making excuses for him whenever something bad happens. When I got a concussion we all said, well you shouldn't be galloping him outside or at least not near other horses. The fact of the matter is we'd done essentially the same thing before without incident, but this time he refused to stop, took the bit in his mouth and pulled down further and harder than I could handle. (He may have bucked, I had some memory loss and its hard to know if I got it all back or not.)

    When Alyssa had her pelvis broken, he had been out there more times than I could count, and recently too. He'd seen that berry clearing crew before, he's seen plastic bags. He backed away, Alyssa backed him up further, and for whatever reason he reared up and flipped over backwards. He's demonstrated his willingness to rear again and again. Same goes for bolting and pulling.

    I think we were more than "love-blind" as heidi put it. We were guilt-blind too. I worked with him all summer and I feel like I should have sacked him out to bags, worked him more under saddle. (I spent a long time working him with long lines to get him to pick up the right lead canter.) I should have done something differently, I keep telling myself. I'm sure Alyssa has a similar list of excuses to feel guilty. And he's a cute guy, athletic, fun jumper (oh, except that he rushes all the jumps!) but probably mostly: he was one of our projects and its hard to give up on him.

    He's not worth it. I haven't actually been able to make that statement until just now. As Alyssa points out to me, that level 3 body protector I wore mostly for riding him, wont do anything for my pelvis if he flips again, and experience demonstrates that a hard enough hit will still hurt me, even with a helmet. The risk is huge and the reward is what? A seventh horse to ride? He doesn't belong to either of us, nothing bad will happen to him, and if we work at it, Robert (his owner) wont let anything happen to anyone else either. Its still a strangely hard pill to swallow, but the peer pressure really helps.

    Thank you mugwump, and to everyone else who has so gently but firmly pointed out our naïveté. Alyssa and I will get over it; probably faster than it took to get me clearance to ride again, or get Alyssa walking without crutches and/or pain.

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  8. Too cool, Gillian. You too Alyssa.
    Think about how many horses you can help, or hell, just enjoy, with the time you spent on that horse. In the long run you'll both realize how a tough one like that makes us better riders. And you have done everything you can for him.

  9. One last thing about horses like this...they will teach you more about MANY more things than you can even imagine. He has taught you MANY life lessons. They all do, but I think the troubled ones (for whatever reason they are troubled) teach you the most.

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  11. Very well written.

    I read your previous post about Captain and it put into words something I'd been musing on for a while.

    There's a horse I've been involved with, but only on the ground; people I care about (one very much so) have been on his back, and it hasn't always gone well, there seems to be certain characteristics about the horse that make him very difficult to work with. And while I can't say he's so much a problem as to be dangerous, he sure tread close to that line for a bit... and may cross it yet. And it was always a question in my mind: at what point to I talk to his owners, my friends, and say, he's too far gone. At what point will I have seen enough and heard enough to know that if I don't tell them my concerns, I'll feel responsible if someone gets hurt. It isn't yet... but it's been so close I could almost touch it. :(

    Edited for stupid brain fart that replaced all the "what" with "one" ... I think I need more coffee.

  12. Oh geez, now I'm blushing!

    To be clear: I started riding him again after he flipped over. I thought hey, this was my fault, I'll just get back on and not push him so hard. He was okay, a little on edge but that could have been attributed to me. When I got back and he started spooking hard at nothing, not leading well, etc.-- I stopped. I didn't know if it was my fear of him that made him do that, but I was afraid of him and he was doing that. So while I'll take him out to lunge occasionally to let some of his energy out, or groom him if he's filthy, I'm not doing much else with him.

    I feel awful about it, but I can't handle him. Straight up. Doing so, yes, will probably get me hurt again. At least one professional trainer has ridden him and basically despaired. I like him, and wish we could ride him, but at this point I think that's a no.

  13. MUGWUMP: I've read your blog from start to finish. I like how you think and how you make me think!
    If you have time I'd appreciate you checking out my blog, especially "Quinn's Story" which is being posted in parts (as of today there is 2 with more on the way). I can guess what you'd say about him, especially once I'm at the more current situation but I'd like your input.