Sunday, September 22, 2013

What I Used To Do . . .


is figure things out. I remember thinking about a particular horse all evening, going out the next morning, spending maybe 15 minutes getting the horse to look at me and walking away. The next time I would ask for a step. A single step in the right direction.

That particular horse had taken the 100 yard trip from driveway to barn on his hind legs at the end of a 22 foot rope. He left 90 days later being ridden bareback by a 14 year old boy.

There was a mare who came, bosal scars three inches up both sides of her jaw. At one point in her training with me, she flipped over backwards and caught the saddle under a panel. She left, on her way to a show career, walk, trot, canter under saddle, bold, brave, gentle and unafraid.

There are more on this list. They balance on the scales against the ones I walked away from. Somehow seems the day a horse became my own, I lost the ability or the desire to figure things out. To do what it took to reach the horse, help them be happy in understanding their job. To reach the body through the mind, the mind through the body.

Now I have Royal. I have journaled our ups and downs in fairly thorough detail on this blog and I need to go back and read it and find out what I did that worked. What I am doing this summer is not working, it has resulted in multiple injuries for my horse and a few for myself. Not the way this story is going to end well.

Our latest fiasco is again around his panic attacks in a two horse trailer. A certain amount of you are going to shake your heads and say, well hell, a LOT of horses don’t like a two horse trailer!

I am going to tell you I have taught trailer loading for years, and successfully loaded EVERY SINGLE horse I have ever worked with in the manner I know now. I had one, years ago, have a wreck but we didn’t see it coming, she’d loaded and rode for awhile before deciding she’d had enough and kicked out the back of the trailer.

I truly believe it is not the trailer, it’s in the mind. If I had the mind, he would not care what trailer I asked him to ride in. Peter Campbell told me last year my challenge was going to be how to keep him from leaving me mentally, which he did and does constantly. He told me he hoped I realized I had “bitten off quite a little bit here.” I acknowledged indeed I had, but the horse was worth whatever I had to go through to learn what I need to know to be who he requires me to be.

And he is.

I was taught a very long time ago that the Universe is generous and patient. When you have a lesson to learn, it will return to you until the point is made. The stakes, however, tend to go up as time goes by. I have ducked this challenge and now the stakes are too  high. I am not giving up. 

Royal is stitched and stapled wearing a compression wrap on his right hock. My absolute terror is that he will succeed in doing himself in before I do get it figured out. Nope, there are no more double trailers in our future, but as I said, that is not the problem. I don’t know where the panic will show up again next but I guarantee it will. It’s in him and will travel where he goes.

We have a winter ahead of us to figure this out, actually a lifetime. I will find a different horse on which to park cars while he heals physically, and then I will set myself to helping him (and me) heal mentally and emotionally. Damned inconvenient this wreck happens the week before Peter comes to town. Several wonderful friends volunteered to put horses under me, but there’s a good vet who showed up fast on a Friday night and did a wonderful job taking care of my horse. He’s getting paid first and on my budget, that leaves me a day to go down,  hang on the rail once again, soak up what I can and maybe go to dinner with my good friends.

I don’t know exactly what the answers are, but I understand exactly where I am at. The place to figure things out. Maybe 15 minutes and one step at a time.  Love ya, Royal. We are going to make it.


Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your honesty, and will be interested to read more about this as it comes.

Anonymous said...

I might add that I have a mare - Dawn - who tried to take the trailer apart - thankfully uninjured except for swollen hocks - on a short trip from one barn to another. She's kicked in the trailer before, but only when bothered by another horse - she's travelled to and from Colorado (from Illinois) twice - in the last slot of a slant - with no problem at all. This time, could have been that she was by herself - I've never trailered her solo before (a hole in our training) or that at the time she might have been coming down with EPM and had some balance issues. I've been shying away from loading her since, but it would be good for us to get past this if we can and your post is a good motivator.

I've got one other (Pie) who loads perfectly and rides like a champ, and another (Red) who is a nervous loader and hauler - I'd like to work more to make him more comfortable. Trailer loading, for me, is a bit of a black hole - scary and unpredictable. Perhaps it's that I hate driving the truck and trailer . . . that live load gives me pause.

Good Hands said...

I am going to detail my work, Kate, in what I do to get Royal to stay with me mentally. He has hauled before alone in a stock trailer and was fine, or as fine as he gets. It is very difficult to get him to relax with any kind of stimulation going on around him.

I used to love teaching trailer loading and had a lot of success with it. My confidence is pretty rocked, or maybe, once again, it is just my ego.

Working them on the ground through squeezes helps a lot, pointing them to things develops the forward and the send for confident loading, stopping them halfway through a maneuver of any kind, asking them to wait before continuing, all good. We are going back to basics, this guy and I. Best of luck with yours, too!

gretchen said...

you two will get "it" (what ever it turns out to be....). it's going to be a long, arduous journey, but then again, those often turn out to be the best....

Annette said...

You've done wonderful things with many horses and I actually ride several of them. I've been there when you worked wonders and I've watched when things didn't work the way you had envisioned, both with horse and human. The one thing that I have always appreciated is that you are able to call a spade a spade and stand behind the things you say. You are also the first to admit when you've made a mistake. But now it's so cool to be there as you deal with your own horse and all the trials and tribs that accompany that day in day out familiarity. GO TERRI!!

Good Hands said...

Thanks you guys!! My home pc has been down for a bit but we are back up and running now. How cool to check in and find these wonderful comments!

Royal's time healing in the stall has been good for both of us. I have taken the time to slow down, brush him every day (almost) and spend quiet undemanding time with him. It's worked well for both of us. I think he looks forward to seeing me now.