Monday, February 4, 2013

P stands for Patience

I've been on such a success high with P2 recently that I've been keeping one eye out for the totally-guaranteed-totally-humbling-horse-moment that is inevitably just around the corner. 

It has to be right? that's why we have horses and not robots? To keep us on our toes with obstacles be they physical or mental.. or totally ridiculous never seen before outbursts?

It's always something.

Nothing dramatic happened this weekend, but I got a healthy dose of humble pie with both girls that realistically brought me back into orbit with regard to expectations.

Prairie had a good schooling outing yesterday - but it lacked the "holy crap we're rockstars" feeling that I've been having so often with her.  In fact, I resisted the urge to smack her big giant beak several times.  She was a cow getting on the trailer, a cow tied to the trailer and a cow under saddle.  She was so braced during our jump school that I was bracing back and escalating our ride into a man vs. beast brace-off.  Which I can most assuredly say that Prairie won. 

My tension was encouraging her tension, which I responded to with more tension and by under-riding my fences.  In the span of 15 minutes we went from sorta-amped-up to a total disaster zone of trotting before each fence, me taking my leg off and pretty much slipping through every corner in an inverted ugly mess. 

Finally my frustration got the best of me and after running through a bending line like a standardbred I threw the reins, got off and gave her to S.

I still can't tell if that was a mature decision - to disengage, take a moment and regroup.

Or if I need to figure out how to do that without throwing the reins at my trainer.

I think the latter is preferable, but until I get there I'm pretty sure it was a good idea for me to get off for a minute and let S bring the mare back from outer space before I tried to work through a course again.

When I did get back on, it wasn't perfect, but I wasn't making things worse, either.  After a few minuets we ended with a nice soft course - and I gotta say, the last three fences were perfection.  Forward, soft, balanced, rhythmic, perfection.  

I'd like to say the struggle was worth those last three fences, but I'm not sure.  The last three fences were fabulously rewarding, but I hate, hate, hate fighting that hard for them. 

But Patience.  

Both in the ride, and in the bigger picture.  I need to regain my patience...

Those three fences gave me another glimpse into how incredibly unbeatable this horse is going to be in any ring when we are that relaxed.... But the ride in general reminded me how far away we are from that consistency. 

With regard to P1 - I got a second helping of humble pie.  The Vet was out Friday to check on everyone and do some bodywork and Pia was in rare form. Bucking, rearing, biting, having a fit in general...  Or rather, I'd like to say she was in rare form, but over the last month or so it's become more of the norm. 

And not a good norm.  I really respect my vet and she's been working with Pia through the entire Summer Camp adventure, so she knows this horse's ups and downs.  On Friday she was sugar coating a lot of observations but general conclusion was that having Pia back in a traditional barn isn't working out great.

Her body is doing well.  No signs of the pain or tension that existed back in 2011.. but the associated attitude and behavior is 100% out in full force. 

I'm not totally sure what this means.  My vet was calling into question what mental issues might be at hand and how fixable they may or may not be.  Physically Pia is looking great, her scratches are almost totally gone, her weight is good, fitness good, all of that checks out.  From a neurological perspective, I know this horse doesn't have Wobblers.  She's foot perfect in the arena and on the trail, and she's catty as all heck.  But with regard to aggression and unpredictability, she's escalating rapidly.

All last week she was heinous under saddle, but Saturday she was a peach.  Wednesday she was okay on the ground for me, but Friday she was kicking at my head and baring her teeth at everything. 

I'm just so saddened by the fact that P hasn't been able to transition back into the real world that I'm at a bit of a loss.  I'm coming to terms with the notion that she probably can't stay where she is, but I don't know where she will go.  Summer Camp might be a possibility - but only if she can go as a resident and not as a client.  We spent a ton of cash on that place and it's not a feasible retirement option.  Traditional retirement board might be an option but only if her demeanor steadily improves when she's there.  If she stays on the path she's on now I would be concerned about her safety and the safety of those around her. 

Anyway, it's early in the thought process.  I have definitely not really thought about permanent options for her since I've been so focused on giving her a chance where we are.  But I think it's time to evaluate options.  She's not enjoying her life, and certainly no one is enjoying working with her. 

Supermom raised the issue of potential ulcers which is something we are going to explore.  Her behavior is pretty consistent with the symptoms, but the follow-up question is what's causing them.. Her constant stress and anxiety? And if so, how do we resolve that?

Bah.  Lots of questions there.  I'm also trying to stay patient with Pia and allow a fair decision process.  On one hand I feel like I've been patient for the last (almost) 3 years.  On the other hand, I know that I tend to hit emotional walls and make wild decisions.  So far these decisions have been productive for Pia (and for me mentally), but we'll see. 
Oh Piasaur, you little enigma


  1. Sorry that you have had some back to reality rides but glad that P2 was able to pull through yesterday during schooling. I am excited to see how you guys do at your next show, whenever that is. As for P1 I am sad to hear that she is so unhappy. Hope you can come to a resolution soon and that she is in better spirits with the ulcer treatments. :)

  2. My mare exhibits some of the same behaviors that you are describing in Pia. I put her on Quiessence and Mare Magic and she is not the same horse. Take her off of them and they start to creep back in.

    1. She spent a year on quiessence right before summer camp and I think think it helped, but it was also when she was at her most wicked... same is true of mare magic (and regumate even). I think they might help keep her in a happy place once she's there.. but they haven't been successful in bringing her back from the dark side yet :)

  3. Aw, I'm so sorry to hear that P1 isn't happy. I have one that is positively miserable in a stall, and finding a boarding situation at a traditional barn that can handle a horse like that can be really hard. Definitely check for ulcers and such, but if that's not the answer, I know you'll find a situation that makes her as happy as she was at summer camp. :)

  4. Ordinarily, I'd say ulcers and pain and stress and blah blah blah, but honestly? I'm shocked more of the horses in the Seattle area aren't like that. Tiny living space, no room to roam. Idaho certainly lacks most of the sweet modern amenities that a more populous area can offer, but we do have space. Maybe P1 would like to go hang with Denali?

  5. Yea, maybe ulcers just from the change of being back in the stall. I have one in the stall and one out in pasture so I'm not opposed to either options. Some just handle it better than others. They get anxiety from the craziest little things like feeding order if its out of the pecking order, etc. Who knows. Sometimes the battle of trying to figure it out is just not worth it when putting them to pasture is the easiest option. It's easy because it typically always fixes it. I dont know if you get to the same point that I do, but sometimes I feel like HOW much do I try? When you've tried everything, when is the point where it's best to just toss your hands up? That's where I'm at with Poppy right now, obviously different situation but it just sucks trying to "figure it out". I just dont feel like trying anymore.


    As for everything else, I really don't have any words of advice about Pia. :(

    1. I am super spoiled with photos. I try not to reuse the same ones over and over, but when my friends take such badass pictures of us it's hard not to! Plus they beat my blurry phone pics...

  7. I would recommend trying to find someplace where she could be on 24 hr turnout. Once a horse has a taste of that, keeping them happy in a stall can be tough. Or trying to find a quieter part of the barn or different barn entirely that is low key, less activity. Also worth investigating the ulcer theory for sure. Hope to hear some good news on Miss Pia soon!

  8. I don't envy those big decisions to make. I like the suggestion to find her a pasture board situation - some horses just aren't meant to fit into the normal sporthorse boarding environment.

  9. Take this with a grain of salt because I'm not really a stall person, but being kept in a stall could be causing the ulcers. The fact that she did so well at summer camp when she was out 24/7 and now is reverting back when kept in a stall (is it all the time or just 12 hours?) sounds like she just can not be kept in a stall. I knew a horse who was like that. He was soooo aggressive when in a stall but when he went somewhere with pasture board only he was great. Also, is she getting hay 24/7? Being able to graze or eat hay 24/7 is the reason most horses do better on pasture. Going for periods of time without roughage on their stomach is one thing that causes ulcers. Anyway you probably know all of this, but I'm just a firm believer in horses living outside that I had to mention it. I really hope you can find a way to keep her happy without having to give her up.


Related Posts with Thumbnails