Monday, December 21, 2009

Mouthy Monday

This is my kind of story.

Badges has big dreams, big plans and an unreasonable love for her horse. Crazy love as a matter of fact.

She is completely honest about her eye opening doses of reality, talks about the things that go wrong, how her dreams change, the modified reality of her choices.....and then gets up and tries again.

This is a horsaii viewpoint. She accepts her horse for who she is, tries to find a job that works for the mare and accepts what she can't change.

BUT Badges keeps trying to learn, tries to step up to be the rider her horse needs and carries the little flicker of hope that maybe, just maybe, if she learns enough and Jazz mellows enough they might still have "the moment."

Badges Blues and Jazz

So, I buy my "dream horse" who was a product of the breeding farm that I had yearned to buy from but couldn’t afford.

Bought her off her second owner for a steal.

With fresh dreams of training her from start to finish all by myself, and how wonderfully broke she was going to be and how bonded we would be. Pick her up and she’s a body score of MAYBE 2, and skittish as hell.

Do ground work, pony her, lunge her, had her side passing, moving hindquarters and forehand on the ground, hauled her out to show her cows, drove her etc etc.

A warning bell had kind of gone off in my head on how whenever she was left for a few days, it would be like starting all over again. I chose to ignore it and proceeded to get on her and walk a few steps shortly before she turned 2.

Did it a second time, 3 min TOPS.

Then, the third time, just got settled in the saddle and BAM, she exploded into a bucking bronc.

Landed on my back, winded.

Was nervous of a repeat performance, so sent her to a friend to put a few rides on her. He had his wife lead him around. 1st ride, great, 2nd ride, great, 3rd ride, BAM, explosion. 1 pulled groin later, she is back at my place.

I continue to do groundwork but am too scared to ride. I would get brave enough to put a foot in the stirrup, and she would EXPLODE backwards, sometimes.

Not all the time. September of her 2 year old year, I decided she was to much for me.

Traded her off for something else and regretted it the moment she was gone. Spent four sleepless months plotting on how to get her back.

Finally, had to use my credit card to buy her back at a ridiculous price.

Hubby had a HUGE blow out, he hated Jazz and couldn’t fathom WHY I would want her back.

They said she had 2 months training. NOT.

Finally got a hold of their 18 year old trainer who said she had put a MONTH on her AND got kicked in the stomach by her which made her unable to ride for 2 weeks.

Hmmmmmm. More warning bells you ask? Nope, I was just happy to have her back.Got her back on December 24th and put a ride at a walk on her on Dec 30th.

Yeah, she was still SUPER green. Sent her to a trainer, who rode her for 2 weeks, then did 2 weeks of groundwork.

Trainer told me I should sell before I get hurt on her. I couldn’t.

I was bound and determined to make the dream come true, and began my blog to keep me motivated. I put approx 2-3 months of just walking and trotting on her and started off with my fear at a 20 on a scale of 1-10 and gradually got down to a 9.

She has bucked me off twice since then, but there are also huge milestones of progress. I don’t regret it for even an instant.

She can be very light and responsive, as well as witchy and stubborn. She has tried EVERY trick in the book which has made me a better rider.

She turned 4 this month, and although she may not be as well trained as a lot of 4 year olds, I am extremely proud on how far we have come together and the fact that I have been her sole rider for the last year.

Do I get frustrated? Yes! Of course. When I can go trot the barrel pattern on her one day without an issue, and the next day, a barrel on the side of the arena is a horse eating dragon.

Or one day she will lope wonderfully slow collected circles with sliding stops, and the next day she will bolt and go 90mph and have no whoa.

How bout that she will go into a herd of cows with absolute passion, and LOVES to chase them, then the next week she is poking her shoulder out and trying to avoid going into the herd? Yea, I get frustrated.

It doesn’t mean I will give up. She keeps me on my toes. Just when I get over confidant, she will try a new trick that brings me back to reality that she is a living, breathing, thinking, conniving creature, not a robot.

I love her individuality, and have NEVER come across a horse like her.

She has taught me that it doesnt matter what people think, because riding her in a crowd, I am prepared that she may bolt or buck, and there is no way in hell I am going to look pretty riding her, so its best to give up on any sort of pretense that I may actually look like I ride good: sure enough, if I do think "hey, look how good we look" she will poke her shoulder out and bolt halfway across the arena, there is no way to recover your dignity if your hauling back on your reins and kicking like a crazed woman trying to get that shoulder back, or (God forbid) eating a mouthful of dirt, so, I have learned to accept that.

Thankfully, I have not come off her in public yet, but it is just a matter of time. I am prepared to leave my pride at home when I go to events with Jazz and to just enjoy it.

I have had to revise my goals a bit. The dream of riding bareback and being "one with my horse" like Stacey Westfall is not to likely to happen with Jazz. Maybe once she is 30 years old, but not anytime in the near future.

So, my goals now are to continue with her training and hopefully have her consistent. My immediate goal is to do this season of cattle penning with her, and then start doing time only's in barrels next year.

I have purchased a yearling that I will transfer the Stacey Westfall dream to, and already I can tell he is NOT another Jazz. I don’t want Jazz to every lose all of her 'tude, because its what makes her Jazz, and why I love her.


  1. While I can understand wanting to make (and keep) a connection with a horse--and I applaud you for your tenacity with Jazz--I beg you to keep your insurance premiums paid up and always, ALWAYS, wear a helmet and a vest (one of those eventers vests available from many catalogs).

    I am the same way about horses--I bought this one, it's MINE. I have a TB that reared up and flipped over twice. Never with anyone on his back and never with anyone behind him--he KNOWS about space and not hurting his peeps.

    Normally a horse that goes up (never mind the "and over" part) would be down the road. It's "four on the floor" in my family, end of discussion.

    But because this fellow is so good otherwise, and because I figured there had to be a good reason for this rearing to take place, I kept looking for what it was the set him off.

    I discovered it is "rushing." Putting him in situations where he isn't sure what is coming next and not giving him time to see and settle. He freezes, stops breathing, and as soon as he feels pressure on his head from the halter or bridle, up he goes.

    I've learned that I stand to his side, get his attention and "bark" the magic words, "You come FORWARD." He sort of "blinks" (I call it "coming to") and takes a breath, and I lead him forward. I do not PULL him forward. I stand beside him and we WALK.

    Good luck with your mission--actually missions since you have a yearling now--but don't take any chances. Helmet, vest, and medical insurance. And not necessarily in that order.

  2. Deja vu? Wasn't this one posted a couple of months ago?

  3. Maybe Cassandra, I have screwed up back-logs of stories and am old, doddering and week should be a new day.

  4. HEHE..yup, Mugs, you already posted this one. and soooo much has changed since I wrote that! We have competed and won a 1st and 3rd fast go in team penning..

    A little update though. My cutting bred mare has reached almost 16hh!!!! WTH?????

  5. Oh well, pack me off to the funny farm. I thought I had straightened out my archives. Obviously there will be a rerun once in a while.
    Should I remember what I post? Probably, but I read them as I get them. So I've seen them all somewhere....

  6. hey, I dont mind the double exposure at all! haha.

  7. This is off topic, but my dad is looking at a horse and I have some deep misgivings about it, even before seeing it myself. Dad has a high "ferret factor" as I like to call it (Ooh, shiny, I want it.). It is an 8 year old reining gelding who has competed fairly successfully. My issue is this, the people selling the horse have owned him for about a year and he has been out to pasture for several months. They told my dad that he has spurs in his hocks, that all reining horses have them, and if they make it past 6 without lameness issues, then they are fine (huh?). Dad rode him and said he was not lame, but then again, the horse has not been ridden in months. If he goes back into training, he could show up lame at any point. I told dad not to buy him without a full pre-purchase exam, and a set of hock x-rays. I am really hesitant for him to get this horse and have it come up lame when he starts riding it regularly. What do you guys think?

  8. Maybe you can do a lease for 30 days with an agreement to purchase the horse if it works out - if not, the owners get 30 days worth of work put on their horse plus a lease fee, and you aren't stuck with an animal that isn't right for what you need him for.

  9. scaequestrian - If they won't lease or your dad isn't interested in that option then x-rays, and exam for sure. It's a small investment considering the cost of caring for a horse that could have medical problems for the rest of its life. I always figure better to know what you're getting into even if you're not going to be competing him.

  10. Do you think part of her issues might have been from being started youngish? I'm definitely not saying she was technically started too young, but after my experiences with my TB (got him at age 5, he was a backyard trail horse started at 2 1/2), I finally realized he was one of those horses who would have been started later, like at 4 or 5. He just wasn't mentally mature enough to handle what was being asked of him til then. Now he's a totally different horse, but some of the things you mention in your story sound a lot like him. I'm glad things are going better now :)

  11. *should* have been started later...I can't type today!

  12. scaequestrian- FULL VET CHECK!!!!!
    Never ever ever buy a finished horse without one.
    A six-year-old with bone spurs can have a long successful life. He can be maintained with medication, or can learn to function in pain.
    But bone spurs hurt.
    A finished six-year-old reiner has been pounding his bones for three or four years.
    A finished reiner in the pasture has usually been turned out because he needs a rest. Be it physical or mental.
    There are no good deals. If you buy a finished, sound horse with points his price will NOT be lower because of the "economy". He will be $15,000 +.
    Go to this site....
    You are a good daughter, now go put on a shiney jacket and tell your ferret, er Dad, you're just trying to save him a lot of grief.

  13. Thought the post looked familiar, but thought it was just my mind running away with me haha. Good post though, reminds me to be thankful that my pony never did that to me >.< So glad Badges has competed with said horse though! It's amazing what you've done with her (:

  14. Is it just me, or does this horse & rider sound like one of those bad relationship that we've seen our friends with and just can't understand "why?" are you with him/her? but they "love" them anyway, spending years with him/her always searching for some good in all the drama.

  15. Heh, Anonymous, I has often occurred to me that either I have the best horse in the world or I have Stockholm Syndrome, and I really couldn't say for sure which it is.

  16. OK. Hope I didn't say this the last time, too!! A friend of my daughter's has a love relationship with a mare similar to this. The girl was a teen (invulnerable). This horse would prance, buck, dash, you name it. Horsey from H. Her owner loved her!!! The most dramatic thing I saw her do was flip over a jump. Tail over head, girl off (fine, invulnerable as stated) the bridle pulled off. So out of control careening about mare. Was caught, and later got second in a jumper class. All while rolling her eyes, pinning her ears, and cursing in horse language. But she has a forever home with her besotted owner. Thankfully. Merry everything to all!

  17. I loved reading this story again. I think we get something different out of what we read as we re-read it. Right away, what popped out to me was to always listen to your sixth sense! It's there for a reason, and for me, that sense is what has made me the rider that I am today. I do more round pen work today than I used to do. I always round pen to set up a bonding time, but now, I seem to work the horse longer and quieter. Just doing more - throwing a rope all around them, ground drive more days, let them drag a rope around. Next on my list when I start working horses next year - too cold now - is to get them walking over tarps and playing with the large arena ball - before I ever step on that young horse. any other ideas?

  18. ouch.... I had a horse that would be a perfect angle the first ride with anyone and everyone.... the second ride not so much.

    Jazz is one lucky Mare to have you, an understanding patient owner willing to work with the horse you have not the horse you want. Good luck and stay safe!

  19. For some reason the horses that we have to work for hat become our favorites. Great story to have double posted!

  20. Sorry for the many errors in the first sentence, too many term papers have fried my brain. What I meant to say was "For some reason it's always the horses that we have to work for that become our favorites."

  21. No criticisms from me on the double post. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't totally crazy. :)

  22. Glad I am not the only one having holiday "duhs" :)

    I fell in love with my mare, and it was a mis-match now a match. Not as exteme as yours, but close. Love her to death, would not part with her...she's up to dumping me 5? times. But she's getting better and settling down! And I am getting better at riding because of her.

    Happy To All!


  23. um.. Jazz has been coming along so good that I now have NOTHING to write about... Now what? haha. Mugs, email me if your ever coming to British Columbia Canada.. I want some lessons please...teehee

  24. I've had more than my share of hard ones. Right now I'm so in love with Gracie who is an angel in disguise. She'd probably let the kids sit on her head if I let them.

    Whatever. I'm over the hard ones. (Did I mention I haven't sold my bitchy mare even though I know I need to and have a willing buyer?) over it. LOL.

  25. No worries Cassandra- I do these things periodically...somebody needs to point them out!
    Badges- I have so more lessons coming out of this chick, only stories.
    This blog is as close to training anything (other than my own) I'm going to get to anymore.

  26. Thank goodness I fell in love with a (mostly) sane and quiet cross-breed.

    Mugs you mentioned previously that your kidlette wasn't well, is she better?

  27. I do love this story. :) The repost was a good one; Although I do enjoy all of the stories.

    Does anyone else have a Winter Beast? My gelding is going to be five in the spring. This is the third winter that I've owned him so I know that this is how he is in the winter. To say that he is easily excited would be an understatement. By mid-spring he starts to quiet down again and is very quiet in the summer and fall. Around October, he starts to become more of a handful again. My riding schedule stays pretty much the same, which is inconsistent. I unfortunately have an office job that doesn't always allow me to leave at the same time every day. With the barn a little over an hour from the office, I don't make it there every day but I would say 3-5 days a week, he is being worked. In the winter months though I turn him out in the arena so he can stretch his legs before I work him. Often he will go for a gallop around the arena. I would rather he didn't but would obviously prefer that to the bronc show he becomes if I just hop on without allowing him to blow off some steam. If I lunge him, he will often work at a very fast trot for 15-20 minutes before settling down and beginning to work. I've tried working him every day and it's the same thing every single day but only during the winter months. As soon as the weather warms up a bit and the snow is gone, he's mister sensible again.

    I am currently between coaches (due to finances, not lack of desire for one...) but my previous coach was of the opinion that if he needs to blast around for a few minutes before he can focus, that I should allow him that opportunity. I used to ride through it but it would take him a solid half hour or more of bucking and leaping sideways before he would settle down. In the summer months, he can go for several days or a week without work and I can hop on and he'll be able to focus. In the summer, he also likes to blast around his paddock a fair bit which he can't do in the winter as easily thanks to ice and deep snow. He just seems to have too much energy in the winter and no outlet. He does enjoy his free time in the arena and isn't a menace. As soon as he's galloped around a few times, tossed in some bucks and had a roll, he's ready to work.

    A few questions now:

    Does anyone else have a horse like this? (Please tell me I'm not alone!) How do you handle it?

    Am I doing the right thing by allowing him time to blow off some steam, loose in the arena, before trying to work him? Should I be trying to work through it?

    I didn't mean for that to be so long winded... :)

  28. Russian Roulette: Do you have a change in ground conditions in the winter? Here in the midwest, my TB is super hyper in the winter because he doesn't get a chance to run as much in his pasture, due to crappy footing. I think it's great that you let him blow off steam before riding, otherwise you're just in for a fight, and that's rarely productive. My trainer always said her horses get much hotter in the winter, so you're not alone!

  29. I am in Southern Ontario so the footing definitely changes! Ice, snow and hard ground = not much of a chance for him to self-exercise during the day.

    My gelding is a Thoroughbred as well. I'm glad to hear that I'm not alone! I've known a few that get a bit hotter in the winter, but nothing like him.

  30. Heila-Yes, she's fine now. My whole household ended up sick....I am so behind for Christmas it isn't even funny.

  31. Russiasn said- "but my previous coach was of the opinion that if he needs to blast around for a few minutes before he can focus, that I should allow him that opportunity."

    I am with your coach.

  32. Thank you for the advice. I will continue to let him unwind before I try working with him. :)

  33. Russian Roulette, ditto. Mine does the same thing, and I handle it as you are, by turning him loose in the arena before riding. Why set yourself up for an argument, when they're just feeling good? If I can, I turn him loose before I groom and tack, so that the "work time" isn't confused with "getting the bugs out".

  34. RR...yes, let him blast! My mare is the same...gets witchy in the winter from lack of good exercise.

    The other day, after not doing anything with her for a few weeks, I lunged was so funny. She walked, trotted...and kept her eye on me the whole time trotting. After she warmed up, I could see her getting more and more excited, even giving me little squeals when she saw me thinking about asking her to canter. Of course, I didn't - I am such a tease! Anyway, right when I thought she was going to bust, I asked her to canter...and she exploded into gallops, bucks, farts all over the place for a good 20 minutes! Went right into that tail-flagging, nostrils-extended TB energy that I love! And she's only 25% TB!