Thursday, January 6, 2011

FAQ's (or random thoughts that don't have flowing paragraphs)

Ok, so mostly I have disjointed thoughts and answers regarding my current state of mind with Miss Pia.  Please bear in mind that in no way have these thoughts been the result of prolonged thought or consideration, but rather they are a mediocre collection of some rambling, my BO's thoughts, my family's thoughts and the general blogosphere :) 
Coherent and meaningful thoughts have not matured yet... so accept this as sporadic and spastic brainwave activity.

Q: Is Pia in pain?

A: I don't think so.  She has been examined every which way, and nothing has shown up.  I'm not ruling pain out, but I don't think it's the primary cause.  Also, not that this justifies me being ok with her possible pain, but I've had horses who basically lost legs with me on them and they still "kept calm and carried on."  So I'm not sure that's a full explanation for her behavior even if she is hurting somewhere.

Q:  Does she like her job?

A: Apparently not.  I mean, my gut says that this is mostly attitude... and mostly an objection to working, so I'd venture to guess that she doesn't like her job.  However, her choices for a job are somewhat limited.  Mostly because of the Wobbler issue.  I just don't trust her over fences.  Cavaletti at the highest setting has been my personal boundary for her "jumping" until I know for certain that she's not slip-sliding all over the place.  Her balance is still an issue - it's mountains better than it used to be, but while the slight drainage incline of a ring isn't noticeable on most horses, it feels like a real hill on P.  That is kind of my barometer for how loose her balance is at this point..

Q: What's her "day" like, (food, turnout, etc)

A: She's fed lots of hay (6 flakes) and her grain bucket twice a day.  Right now she's on Envision and a baby scoop of rice bran along with her smartpak, multivitamin and Quiessence for "calming" (ha).  She's on the loading dose of Quiessence.. but I'm not sure that's helping much.  She's out 24/7 with a really nice three sided matted shed.  She runs around with the other ponies and has line of sight with the entire herd. She isn't turned out with anyone right now, but I'm ok with that.  She gets MASSIVELY herd bound, if she is.   She is/was worked 6 days a week, with at least 3 good free lunge sessions in there as well to let her stretch her legs aaaaaall the way.  By no means is she on 4 acres of grass, but that's a rarity in my area, and I couldn't afford it even if I found it.  The fact that she's out all day is pretty rare in itself. 

Q: Hormones?? Haven't you talked about that non-stop?

A: Yes, I have. and I haven't done anything about it, so that's my first stop.  In fact, after I post this, I'm emailing my vet to discuss Regumate and get her on it ASAP.  In my head I was going to wait for spring when her ladybits went totally bonkers, but really there's no reason to wait.

Q: Why are you keeping her?

A: Uh.  Cause she's my horse.  And I don't feel like giving up (yet). Also, I can't afford two of them, and I've learned that I need a horsey in my life to not be a crazy human. Oh, also, even if she's not my perfect match, she's not particularly sell-able.  I'd obviously disclose the Wobblers, and I'd also disclose her current tendency to bounce around in the air on a regular basis.  There are very few riders out there who I would even feel responsible about turning her over to.  She's not exactly a 4-H project for your average 10 year old...

Q: Do you think she's dangerous?

A:  I don't know? I know a couple things.  I know that she NEVER EVER pulled this shit with her Super-Mom, so she's capable of not being dangerous.  But I also know that I've never been taken advantage of like this by anything. Not by sneaky ponies, not by crazy abused OTTB's, etc.  If I can't correct the behavior (and don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm a horse whisperer, or magic trainer, or even that great of a rider.. I'm just brave and consistent..) then I'd have to say, yes.  I do think she would be "dangerous" for a lot of people out there.

Q: Aren't you scared of her?

A: No.  I'm not scared of "her."  I'm a little shaken, and have zero confidence in my riding right now.  I know that she only pulls this crap if you let her, and somehow, I'm letting her.  Maybe I'm not reacting fast enough, or strong enough..  I'm a little tentative with our transitions, and definitely a little defensive about cantering, but I wouldn't say scared.  Of course I say that right now, when I haven't been on since Monday... But I have been to the barn and groomed and played with her, and there's no PTSD kicking in :) so that's good.

Q: Your Dad is offering you a new horse, what the hell are you waiting for?

A:  Well, sort of.  He's offering to pay for P's "retirement" if I want to try and find another partner.  It's hard for me to even type this without feeling massive waves of guilt crashing at me from multiple directions.  For one thing, I'd feel horrifically guilty putting P "out to pasture" at 7 years old.  Horrifically. I'm pretty sure that mare is capable of some neat things, and I'd hate to waste her.  On the other hand, what horse doesn't want to just be a horse? Maybe my reluctance is me being selfish.. 
The other guilt issue is being "Daddy's Little Girl" and letting him bail me out.  I know I can afford a horse. Realistically I can afford another horse a lot easier (something that I don't need 4 lessons a week on is a lot cheaper). But I don't like the idea of it.  I just don't.  Oh, and then there's the guilt of just straight-up giving up.  Regardless of the impact on P or on my family's pocket book, I just don't like the idea of giving up.  I've never "given up" on a horse.  Ever.

Q: Wait, your DAD would pay for it?

A: Yeah, the idea of me ending up in a chair, or even just in a hospital bed for an extended time because of a horse is horrifying to him.  He's always supported my decision to ride, and to event, and to fall off and get trampled from time to time, but he does NOT support me getting on every day knowing the big bucks are coming. In fact, he's very vocal about his disapproval and the least supportive he's ever been of my riding because of it.

Q: What's your BO think?

A: Good question.  She is supportive, but currently is definitely playing Devil's Advocate for moving on.  She's a mom, and she saw the fall on Monday from her living room.  I believe her when she says it was the meanest looking outburst she's ever seen.  But then again, she is used to a barn full of well behaved, well mannered, really talented geldings.  She freely admits that she doesn't tolerate snarky horses and she rarely buys mares.  I think she would be relieved if I moved onto another horse, but I might be putting words into her mouth with that one.

Q: Is she smart?

A: Too smart.  Waaaaaay tooooo smart.  She's sneaky, and I feel like boredom might be what this is stemming from.  But I try to mix up our routine as much as possible.  I don't have an obvious solution for engaging her more. We play with poles, we play with cavaletti, we play on our own. We play tag, we stretch, I give her days off with just love, I give her days where she's is worked to the bone.  I'm certain she's too smart, I'm just not certain how to stay one step ahead of her :) 

Q: What do YOU think?

A: I don't know.  I'm trying to be realistic and not think from a place of diminished confidence, or fear, or desperation.  I do think that P could come into her own and that we would be RAD if I can figure out how to keep her engaged and not bitter.  I also know that it's not worth my body, or my confidence to totally get wrecked on this mare.  What I can't tell is if we're at that point, or if this is a tiny speed-bump.  I'm pretty sure that in a year or so, I'll be able to look back and tell how significant this is, but I think I'm a little too close at the moment.

If I could wave a magic wand, I'd want P to be happy and not bucky.  I love her sass, her interactions and her brain (most of the time). I don't care that her gaits aren't the most competitive for dressage, or that she's pissy sometimes.  I really do enjoy this horse and the time I spend with her - That isn't in question.  At all.


  1. First of all, blogging is about dumping your thoughts and you are certainly not expected to have answers before typing. That would be horrifically boring to read. I don't have any answers or suggestions at this point. Just one observation from having been there: when the time is right to retire Pia, you will know. Don't force something you aren't ready for. You want to be at peace with your decision - not second guessing whether you did the right thing. Hang in there--

  2. I'd like to second what Annette said. And I think it's great how you've laid out your thoughts. I really loved your last paragraph. That's the part that really counts.

  3. It could be that, even if she's not in pain, some of her behaviors are fear-related - fear of remembered pain or fear of losing her balance - I expect that not quite right balance feeling would be very disturbing to a horse. She just seems to be saying I Can't Do It as loudly as she can. It may be that having her go around on a relaxed, stretch-down rein, rather than in a frame, might relieve some of the pressure, but maybe not too.

    Good luck - I've been thinking about you two a lot and wish I could offer more help.

  4. Thanks (again) guys :)

    Kate - I hadn't thought of it as a fear/balance issue before, that's interesting. I do try to warm her up long and low (as well as cool her out that way). On good days we start there. On bad days she's so bottled up I can drop my reins entirely and she stays jammed up that like until she's "through" her 5 minute sticky/hissy fit. It's truly odd... I appreciate all of your comments! keep them coming if you have anymore random insights :)

  5. Your "random" thoughts are quite coherent and I think you're on the right track...I hope to god it's hormones and something that can be controlled.

    One other thought I had, which you've probably already explored-is she any better when you're working with another quiet horse in the ring? My mare Ebony was sooooo much more relaxed with another horse in her sights. Heck, even Miles is to a certain extent, with the caveat the other horse isn't bucking/rearing etc.

    Mares are so confounding to me. My first horse was an angel of a mare...seriously, she was young, but so, so sane and tolerant, even when in heat. Just the best first horse a girl could ask for. Yet so many horses that are having issues I know of are also mares...again, I hope for both you and Pia it's something hormonal and therefore fixable. Your love for your horse comes through in your writing, and I want to read about your adventures for years to come.

  6. Hi, I'm new to reading your blog. I don't know anything about your history with Pia because I haven't read back through your archives yet, but just off of what you have posted here, these are my thoughts. . .

    1. I absolutely love horses, but I also don't believe any horse is worth getting permanently injured or paralyzed over (one reason I'm like your trainer regarding mares and/or problem horses). So one thing that might help you is teaching her the one rein stop (you can google Clinton Anderson one rein stop). This has saved my butt several times because you can bring a horse out of a bolt or buck with it. You have to practice it though, because if you don't practice before hand you can pull them off balance (especially with her wobblers). I hope I'm not coming off an uncaring, I just highly value my safety lol. The fact that she's safe on the ground and you aren't scared of her makes me think it isn't time to "give up" on her either.

    2. The other thing you mention is that it might be boredom. I don't know anything about your training at all or what you guys do besides riding, but you might look into using clicker training to play games and learn tricks. It would give her a mental workout. Clicker training is also really good for pinpointing to your horse exactly what it is you like. This is just a friendly suggestion. I'm not trying to advertise and I'm not dissing other training methods. I just like it and think it's a lot of fun (especially because my colt isn't old enough to ride yet).

    I hope you can figure out what the problem is. It may very well be hormonal. I had a mare with hormone problems (which is what shied me off of mares) and it can seriously affect their behavior. Good luck!!

  7. She's your horse and it's your decision. That said... Izzy has silly/goofy days and pissy/angry days and lots of other things in between. I don't think it's anthropomorphizing too much to say that sometimes, something is just attitude. Not always, and not regularly, but horses aren't perfect.

    And you're way braver than me. Way. I'd have run my 10k a long ways away from her already. ;-)

  8. I too, have been thinking about you and your mare a lot (see! doesn't it make you feel good to know you have supporters!). I read this post last night and went to bed turning over possible other ideas. Oh -- and I second the notion that we don't have to have answers before we start writing. I find that writing helps me figure things out, anyway.

    So here are my equally uncoherent thoughts (for what they're worth):

    1. Have you ruled out a training issue? From what I've seen, you ride quite well, but sometimes horses just get our number and things tend to spiral from there (I had one that learned I am quite small and he could scrape me off on the wall of the indoor. Very unpleasant.) So, I guess the best way to rule it out would be to put her in full training (with your trainer or someone else) and see if the behavior stops. Not that I'm blaming you! Don't take that the wrong way... just thinking of what I would do in your shoes.

    2. I haven't seen Quiessence do much, but I know two horses that have had great results with SmartCalm Ultra. It's not legal to show on, but you could always try it and then cross that bridge when you come to it. Also, to see if the behavior is caused by nervousness/anxiousness you could try giving her Perfect Prep EQ before you ride her (or have someone give it to her a couple hours before you get there). That stuff is amazing - helps them relax and focus, but doesn't make them brain dead or lethargic (too expensive for every ride, but would be interesting to see if it helps).

    3. As for the boredom - I remember that you had a ride where you let her "jump" some little cavaletti and she was super. If you set up a little 2' x-rail for her every ride and go back and forth over it when you feel her getting pissy, it might be the boredom breaker you need. Not big enough that she could hurt herself, but enough to make things interesting. I actually use little jumps during my flat work when my horse is off in lala land not paying attention. It gets him to focus.

    4. I definitely think the Regumate is a good idea. When you talk to your vet, ask about doing a Regumate implant. It's much easier than administering the liquid every day (no risk of infertility for you or whoever is handling it) and you know she's getting the right dosage. With the liquid, they spit some of it out, or if you top dress their grain you never know how much is left on the bucket. If you don't do the implant, get the dosing gun, it make it easier to administer. (Can you tell I've done this a lot?!)

    So, those are my thoughts... as usual, ignore me if you disagree, and I hope I didn't throw too many more ideas into the mix and make things more complicated. I tried to put myself in your shoes because I'm sure by now you must be really frustrated. Good luck, keep us posted... we're here for you!

  9. I feel for you. I often wonder the same things about my mare. She can be so wonderful some days and other days I end up on the ground. There are days when I question whether I want to get back on a horse ever again.

    My mare did the same bucking/bolting thing to me not long ago and I ended up on my back in the dirt. Thankfully she has never reared on me (yet). *cross fingers and knock on wood*

    Sometimes I wonder if it's just the combination of me and my mare. Because my novice husband can get on my mare and ride her with no issues. But then again, he doesn't know enough to be scared. Ignorance is bliss?

    I even went as far as to list my mare for sale right after the bucking/bolting incident. But a day later I pulled the ad because the thought of selling her made me physically ill. I love her too much...

    I have no answers for you. I wish I had a dad who was willing to buy me a new horse...But I understand the not wanting to give up either...

    And yes, I wish I had a magic wand too.

  10. 1. Does your dad want another daughter? I love my parents, but having an extra set wouldn't be too bad.

    2. I second SmartCalm Ultra = AMAZING.

    3. Regumate implant? I'll have to look into that!

    4. Your horse, your decision. I can't tell you how many times I thought (because I know at the moment she's too much for me) of selling Denali. AND much like you I know that there is no human being in their right mind that would EVER consider buying her. Ever. At least not the kind of home that I want her to go to.

    5. We love you! (Denali said to come visit again. She won't try to kill anyone this time...promise.)

  11. Go with your gut - if it's saying it might be boredom, try to find something else to add in. Gut feelings are more right than many people like to think.

    I agree...if you're not afraid of her, and are this determined to not give up, it's not time to put her out to pasture. It might just be she needs something else as stimulation.

    I really hope it all works out for you and Pia!


Related Posts with Thumbnails