Friday, November 16, 2007

Trying to Get my Breeding Business Back on Track - Training Young Horses - After the Fall

Part 1 of The Fall

Being hurt and not being able to ask for help is frightening but only in hind sight. At the time, I felt pretty confident that I was OK. I sent Rachel to get me Tylenol as I had Mariah remove my boots so I could find a position to rest in. Then I waited until my head cleared.

Once that happened, I unsaddled Reflection. There was no way I was going to let Rachel or Mariah deal with him. I even considered working Legs. He was the only Arabian horse that I hadn't worked that day. But I decided that would be really pushing it so I let the girls get him untacked and lunge him.

I debated about calling Dave to come and pick me up but stalled long enough that I figured I could get home on my own. My mind was already racing with what I had done wrong, what I should have done. You know the drill. Then I took myself home.

I iced my bruises, put the heating pad on my neck and back and popped muscle relaxers. All the while my mind churned with thoughts of fixing this awful mess.

The solutions ran from selling the horse to sending him out for training and everything in between. But when it's all said and done, I love this horse. He is a once in a lifetime horse and I want him to be mine, not someone else's when he makes his mark. That means I need to get this problem figured out.

This horse is very much like his mother. He has this "streak" if you will. When something new frightens him, his response is immediate and intense. The first time I remember this behavior was over the clippers when he was just a foal. I thought the horse was going to go clean through the wall when I turned the clippers on. It took a couple of time working with him to get him over this fear. Now I can clip him without a halter and he doesn't blink an eye.

However, once the horse realizes that the fear is inappropriate, he is a lamb. I need to teach him he has nothing to be afraid of without putting myself or anyone else at risk. It is a simple as that, yet as complicated.

Believe it or not, I was at the barn the next day working on this problem. I had Colleen and Rachel to help and I wasn't letting it sit another day. We were going to work on the horse's fear. It was back to a form of sacking him out like I had described in Does Your Horse Know How to Be Trapped - Part 2 and Part 3

I tacked the horse up with the saddle and bridle again. Took him to a corner of the arena where I tied him around and turned him loose. Then I approached him with a halter whip with a white plastic bag tied to the end. Colleen and Rachel's job was to keep him in an area where he couldn't escape his fear. We wanted him to break through the panic and learn to deal with the fear.

I put pressure on the horse to encourage him to escape. I released the pressure when he responded by getting soft and quiet. I only left him tied to one side for about five minutes before I changed directions and tied him around the other way. I didn't want the horse to get sore, only to learn with both sides of his brain to confront his fear.

It didn't take long and Reflection was standing there quietly looking at the approaching dreaded plastic bag. . Looking for a place were I could give the horse big releases for standing quietly and letting me touch him with the bag when I could see the horse really wanted to jump right out of his skin.

Once the horse got the release, I wanted to see licks and chews that told me he was figuring it out. The bigger the licks and chews the longer the breaks. I worked with him as long as my throbbing leg would take it and then I went home.

I had planned on working through all six of them that day. Feeling insecure about what had happened, I wanted to be sure that none of the others horses needed to have this exercise redone. But my aching body just wouldn't take it and I went home.

I haven't been back since. As much as I wanted to go to the barn, I knew it wasn't really safe for me to be there. My body ached, my thinking was slow and my movements even slower. Tomorrow it will have been one full week.
Today is the first day I haven't slept most of the day but that was only because company came. Even with sleeping most of the day, I'm still sleeping at night. A good indicator to me that my body needs to heal. The only problem I'm having with sleeping is changing positions. My body still screams over that.

My leg requires elevation or it throbs horrendously and I'm doing my best to keep it happy. Whether or not I go to the barn tomorrow or the next will depend upon that leg. As long as it looks like there's danger of throwing a clot, I won't be walking around on it. I've been there and done that before and don't plan to do it again.

So for now I'm on the sidelines. Waiting (which I don't do well) for the right time to go back. But you can bet, it's going to be a while before I get back on that particular horse. And the rest of the young horses will get that exercise redone while I'm waiting for a new helmet. The insides of mine are crushed.

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  1. Hey I actually stayed up long enough to see your latest post!!!

    I am really worried especially since you are still experiencing so much pain in your leg. I hope you havent fractured something. Thank heavens for the helmet. I never wear one, maybe I should rethink that too.

    Do you think that maybe he has a pressure point that the saddle aggravates when it has weight on it? A sensitive area that could be solved with special padding? I used to ride a horse that had a special saddle pad with areas removed to release the pressure in a few specific areas because he experienced pain when a solid pad was put on him. Just a thought.

    ((((Hugs)))) and hope you are feeling much better tomorrow.


  2. Just another thought on the pressure thing. I remember when I was a kid and rode, we used to get a kick out of some of the horses who if you pressed your fingers on either side of their spine just behind the saddle they would buck. Nothing hard just pressure. Maybe he needs desensitizing, I have nowhere near your experience but my mind always wanders all over the show. I am one of those people that have to have answers and have to know why and how something works, I am not happy to just know that it works LOL


  3. ((HUGS!!)) Hope you're feeling good enough to go to the barn again soon! For the time being just do as you're doing and take it easy. It sounds like your body is doing what it has too and hopefully doing a good job of it too! Again...((HUGS!!)) and hope you feel even better soon!

  4. I'm glad you were wearing a helmet! Keep sleeping, and drink some hot cocoa for me - if I were nearby I'd probably take you some banana bread, but... I'm a little far for that. Do you think alternating heat and ice might help any of the sore areas? Now that the first couple days are past?

  5. O.M.G. you are one brave lady!

    Take care of yourself and make sure you're 100%. Sounds like you'll have to go back to basics with this one.

  6. WOW! That is some wreck!!! I am glad you are taking some time off and resting. Thats the best thing for your body and mind.

    Can I ask why you are looking for licking and chewing? I just read an excellent study by a University (I think UC Davies...I will have to find it) that the licking/chewing reflex is a release after being forced into stressful situations. My curiosity is peaked on this issue right I am interested on your take on it...

  7. Good Grief, you must have really injured yourself. I hate that. The older I get I find that it really shakes the ole' confidence. Do you have a compression stocking for that leg? That helps to prevent a clot as well.