Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rachel and Grandma and the Arabian Horse Crash and Burn!

The first post of the Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse series was posted several months ago and documents Rachel's journey on her way to her dream of competing one day at the Arabian and Half Arabian US National Championship Show.

I haven't posted in these series in quite a while because things just haven't been going well with Rachel and Grandma and for that matter with Dandy, the Arabian horse. I've written before about the problems that this particular Arabian horse has with a saddle fitting him correctly.

The horse has always been difficult to fit and I have had to make adjustments with pads and padding to accommodate his back since I am unable to find any saddle that fits him properly. The whole time I have had the horse under saddle and in my care (that would be fourteen years), he has never experienced a bare spot on his back because of this issue.

I have stayed on top of it by inspecting his back each and every day before I saddle the horse and after I ride. That way if there is even the slightest sign of the tell tale "fried hairs," I can make the proper adjustments so the horse doesn't have to hurt. AND I sew satin onto the underside of the back of the pad. This stops the pad from pulling the hairs in the first place. As you can imagine this satin must be replaced often

Rachel has not been as diligent with this project. The result is that on at least four separate occasions during the two years the horse has been in her care, the Arabian horse has ended up with a bare spot, or spots on his back right about at the loin.

At first I chalked it up to her being new at this whole riding and saddling thing. Then I decided it was because she is dyslexic, maybe it was going to take her a bit longer to learn how to be saddling the horse properly and adjusting the pads. Also I was concerned maybe she wasn't quite understanding what she should be watching for to detect a problem.

The third time I decided was my fault because I allowed Rachel to take the horse to a schooling show knowing there was already a problem with rub marks on his back. I thought I could control it. Frankly, Rachel was so excited about showing, I put her needs above the horse. Had it been just me, I would have never taken the horse to that show.

Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse Youth Nationals Here We Come! Part 3 tells about this particularly bad incident. The horse actually ended up with burns on his back. I really thought that she had finally realized what she had done to him.

We laid Dandy off after that incident and I really hoped that would be the end of this problem. I hoped the amount of time it took for the horse to heal had made an impact on Rachel. Well, I was wrong.

Right about the time of the fall I took off of Reflection in Nov, I was saddling Dandy myself for the first time in I don't know how long (because Rachel normally does the saddling, then I school the horse and then give her a lesson), I found two large bare spots on the horse's back again.

That was not the only issue I had caught Rachel on. Just days before, she had come to me telling me that Storm had a bump on the inside of his cannon bone that had not been there before. In actuality I had found that bump (a splint) three weeks before and had it checked out at that time.

I hadn't told Rachel because I knew she would say it hadn't been there before. I wanted to see how long it would take for her to notice the injury. And I wanted her to admit she was doing some slacking.

I guess it should have dawned on me if she wasn't doing a good job of checking the horses legs before she was putting polo wraps in place, then she probably was taking shortcuts on other things as well. It just hadn't occurred to me that one of those things would be watching out for problems with Dandy's back.

To say this was the final straw for me would be a gross understatement. I was so furious I could hardly talk. I knew that Rachel was going through a period of feeling like she was "put out" with the work involved in caring for the horses, but I had never imagined that she would shirk her responsibility to Dandy so badly.

The first thing I did was to retrieve Dandy's special pad, the one with the satin sewn on the back side. I flipped the pad over and the satin was in tattered shreds. It was so worn out, it hadn't been protecting this horse's back in weeks. This was a continual pattern of neglect. My furor went up another notch.

I believe that we are responsible for the care and well being of the horses we are blessed with. For me it was never about just teaching Rachel how to ride and get to Nationals, it was about teaching Rachel to be a responsible horse woman.

To be continued..................

Crash and Burn Part 2

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  1. "being a responsible horse woman." Good for you. We all need more lessons in life and our caring for our neighbors.

  2. Yes it's responsibility and so much more. She'll be sorry someday she tried to shortcut this opportunity.

  3. Oh man...she needs to speak with other girls and boys who love horses but can't work with them due to lack of funds, parental/family support, etc. Maybe then she'd realize how truly lucky she is and the work to care for them is worth the effort. Anyway, good luck and I hope she starts coming around soon. I can only imagine how frustrated/angry you are...((HUGS!!))

  4. Not being able to ride would be a wake-up call for me. Hopefully she'll get her act together!

  5. Hi, Mikael,

    It's my first visit and I'm going to have to take some time later in the day to come back when I can read for awhile - lots of great material to sit with!

    I've visited your other blogs too and feel the same way about them.

    Happy to find your place!

  6. Leadership by Example MiKael. Excellent on your part. Maybe some day these lessons in proper and good stewardship will pay off for the young lady in question.

    In the meantime, keep the duct tape handy- I am quite sure you can find uses for it with her! ;)

    Keep up the good work keeping her in line.

  7. I agree with equine spirit, she needs to talk to some kids who don't get her opportunity.

    It always seems the kids with the most opportunity take horses for granted.


  8. Well, it seems to me that her heart is just not "there" when it comes to horses. You cannot blame her dyslexia, that has nothing to do with the care of animal. Your heart is in tune with your horses and their care, hers is not and never will be. That's OK, it is just not her "thing". Move on and find some barn girls or boys whose hearts are really into horses.

    No one is right or wrong in this situation as it stands (yet). You will find more eagar and able students elsewhere.

    Thank you for keeping us updated. Your horses are beautiful and it is always a pleasure to hear you speak about them.

  9. arbraham, thanks for the support. It's not always easy to make the kid accountable.

    molly, I believe that she will be sorry some day. I hope that she can figure this out now instead of later so she doesn't totally miss out.

    equinespirit, she does have a friend there in the barn who is very much on her case about how lucky she is and how she should be grateful. Only time will tell if this sinks in. This story is not over by any means.

    dressagemom, it would be for me as well. We'll just have to wait and see how this goes for Rachel.

    billie, welcome! we're happy to have you.

    mrs mom, that is the name of the game. Example is the best way I know to teach.

    deanna, it sure is a catch 22, I think. But we will see.

    kbryan, I think that Rachel hasn't a clue what her "heart" is about this. She is torn between it and her need to be accepted by her friends. Unfortunately those friends don't get horses at all. It is not over yet.

  10. i knew this was a problem you were battling with and had been worrying you badly and am glad to be hearing how you have come to terms and started sortin this dilemma out. It is not easy to instill responsibility in our children or grandchildren, the youth of today is so different to what it was "in our day" LOL.

    My daughter and I are estranged, she thinks I am the most dreadful person in the world and cant see what she had done to drive this wedge (i dont say it is all her fault ... long story) and during the last few years we had together she put her friends before me in every way, the peer pressure is tremendous.

    Will be watching out for the next edition.


  11. I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe later on she will be more grown up and you could try again...

  12. Good for you! I hope whatever needs to click in her brain does it soon!

  13. Wow, how absolutely horrible, that she has neglected this beautiful horse that she was given the privelage to ride. I look forward to your next installment to see how you handled this problem.

    My oldest has lost the passion, and really I wonder if the passion was mine and I was inflicting it on her. At any rate, she still rides but as far as I can see she is being responsible. (fingers crossed)

  14. I am so sorry that she didn't get the clue after being "restricted" from riding.

    Glad you are on top of this, imagine what would happen if you weren't the kind to pay attention.

    I can't wait for the next installment of this real life saga.

  15. I was lucky enough (well I begged from the time I was four) to get my first horse when I was 12. I remember what happened to my horses in the care of others....not good...and it was always so upsetting. I hope everything worked out ok for you and your horse. (P.S. I need to program myself to use the computer each time I can't spell...I keep forgetting LOL) You're still a 10 in my book :)