It's really too bad that I waited three days to post an update, because all of the super entertaining, mildly hysterical details have blurred in my brain and they were certainly worth repeating.
Basically, after my semi-frustrating-solo-ride on Wednesday, I was really looking forward to a lesson on Thursday to at least keep my own issues in check and give Pia a fighting chance at being a good girl. I checked my email between meetings and one popped up from the BO saying that another girl at the barn was having a "Cowboy" out to take a look at her boy and wanted to know if I wanted him to take a gander at miss P as well..
Realistically, I'm all for additional opinions/perspectives so I agreed and said I'd be out there whenever this dude was supposed to show up. Since we never heard back I just headed out to the barn for my regular lesson and sorta put the cowboy shenanigans on the back burner. Of course, as luck would have it I was just tacking the mare up when cowboy-man walked in and sorta threw a wrench in the works. I have been trying to think how to effectively communicate what this guy was like, and so far as my boyfriend, my dad, my friends can attest... I've failed.
Essentially what I met was this:
A large, LOUD gentleman in sandblasted jeans form the 90's, airwalk sneakers and some beachy/blond hair.
He knew his shit, and was certainly comfortable voicing his opinion, but he put me off when he started speaking in absolutes. (for me, horses are one of those areas where the old saying "the more you know, the less you think you know" is very, very true. Almost every trainer/owner/breeder/rider who I respect, will share their opinions with you but is usually reticent to offer a final answer sort of verdict.). This dude was certain that he had Pia sized up from the first 30 seconds. Add to that the fact that my creep-factor radar was off the charts and I was leeeeerrrrry to say the least.
Regardless his instant-whisperer judgment was that Pia is "in extreme pain." This because she was in one of her weird cross-tie poses, and because she pinned her ears when he touched her back.
Note: a) Pia doesn't like most boys. b) she pins her ears if she doesn't like you. c) he was loud and offensive, and if I had ears when he tried to touch me, I would have pinned them.
I tried to explain that she doesn't always do that, and demonstrated by touching her in the exact same spot with no ear pinning effect, but he was already on to how crippled she is by her feet. He essentially gasped in pain and exclaimed that she "has no heel," is "standing unbalanced" and "good god what have I done to her."
This is where my experience in a very bombastic, male-dominated industry came in handy as I was able to bite my tongue (and quite literally my cheek) to ask what exactly he was referencing. I can't even remember, but he obviously doesn't enjoy a barefoot trim, with cute little rounded hooves. I do think there are some issues to be addressed, but I don't think they are crippling her, causing pain or otherwise damaging her ability to live a normal life.
After some awkward interactions, we decided that I would proceed with my normal lesson and he would observe, then if he had any comments or saw anything that he wanted to address, we could discuss it and possibly schedule a future session.
So I tacked up, got Miss P all ready and headed to the ring. She was a gem. Loose on the lunge line, calm under saddle for our walking, and showed her typical refusal to go forward in the trot. After about 15 minutes of spectating, Cowboy-Man just couldn't sit on his hands any longer and moved to hover around the BO in the middle of the ring. Their side conversation finally got in the way of my lesson and I just halted and waited for their stilted discussion to come to an end.
Finally, Cowboy-Man walked up to me and asked if I would mind if he got on.
uhhhhhh. kinda. but whatever.
So I dismounted, handed her over (got a lecture on my running martingale and how its "ruining my communication with P.." Thanks dude, but as long as the bucks are around, the martingale is staying) and stepped back to watch.
Credit Where Credit is Due:
The guy had a lovely seat. He was soft, assertive but not aggressive, and really did get P working nicely and moving out more than I usually do
He. Wouldn't. Shut. Up. Ever.
Seriously, the guy was rambling non stop about how fantastic he is, how P needed to use her ass (come on girl, with a backside like yours...) and blah blah blah.
Yes he got P moving, but yes she pulled the same crap. She stopped, refused to trot and bit his foot (lol). She also kicked out at his leg quite a bit, and he got one good buck in the canter (yee-haw!)
First of all, he was basically doing tight roll backs to get her bending, and had her nose pulled around to his knee during a chunk of it. for one thing it made me uncomfortable, but mostly I worry about tight maneuvers like that with the Wobblers. It might be unfounded, but still
Secondly, as soon as P pulled her "stop-no-trot" move on him, he decided that her issues was "100% attitude" and not at all her painful back or crippled feet. While I respect his ability to modify his opinion, it didn't engender any confidence in his theories or opinions.
Also, he said he just wanted to feel her move for a few laps, but 30 minutes later he handed me a lathered, panting mare.
All in all, I appreciated the day. He didn't come up with any magic theories that we didn't already know, although he did work through them in a slightly different fashion. One thing I did take away was that he said Pis seems to blame me for her discomfort (when she's all curled and jammed up) but really, she's the one who puts herself there, so the focus needs to be on getting her long and low so that she breaks that association.. I think there's some merit in that.
Cowboy-Man made a return trip the following day to look at some of the other horses, but ended up being asked to leave the property for intense sketchiness and bizarre behavior.
Oh well. I guess he isn't our long term solution, but I suppose I already knew that. :)