Monday, August 7, 2017

No longer the favorite child

So after being all starry eyed and in love with Arya, reality hit over the weekend.

While a handful of (wonderful, hard working) men worked away on extending the hay storage section of the barn, I had a wonderful ride on Bailey. I set up a bounce-to-two-stride-oxer grid and slapped a waterford on her to combat the diving front end issue from our last jump school and off we went. She was lovely; she warmed up quietly, jumped around on an angle to "warm up" and no matter if I got her in long or short, she made it work. Like a total gem.


I'm not sure when the #feralredhorse became so wonderful and consistent, but even when I don't get on her for a week lately she's just been a total star. Good BB!

However... Arya was fine to tack up. She was a bit on edge but with lots of construction going on out of sight, I was patient and understanding with her. She accepted fly spray in exchange for cookies. She was her normal self.

And then I got after her for walking on top of me, and then not standing when asked. I plopped the mounting block down next to her, hiked up my girth and got on. She went to walk away from the block, like she does every ride. And like every ride, I got after her to make her stand like a civilized horse.

And then she started backing up, reared, and almost flipped over on top of me. I bailed myself off that shitshow and somehow managed to hang on to the reins and land mostly upright so I could continue to hold on to her. Doing this, I discovered yesterday (and even more today) I managed to anger half of the muscles in my upper body. I got mad. Arya lunged for a good amount of time and then I tried getting back on her. She walked fine. She trotted fine for 2 seconds, and then went to go speeding off and I half halted her... and she started to fuck around again. I don't have a good word or words for that feeling when a horse starts to sit down and get light in front and you can just TELL that it's going to go down, but I was like F THIS SHIT and tried to emergency dismount off of her before she started doing the backing-and-rearing-and-probably-flipping thing. So I half fell half threw myself off the horse again, and this time she got away from me and went Arabian-impression-ing her way back to the barn to her friends.

So I once again, retrieve and lunge my horse. This time I worked her hard on the ground work. We lunged and sent around the mounting block, and I carefully slid up on her back (laying on the saddle, sliding off) like I have to rebreak this animal several times, and finally got on her again. And we walked, and halted, and walked and halted a few times... and then I got off.

And honestly, I don't know where to go from here. How does one deal with a horse who only wants to bolt or rear?! I'm kind of thinking that we ground work hard and long line her at least a couple of days in a row, and then work up to lots of lunging with saddle again, and then working on mounting and not trying to kill me.

What would you do?

Edit: I should clarify that she didn't actually go over. I think she was close. The guys working on the barn had music on and apparently didn't see or hear anything going on. And she didn't go up again once I got back on her, which upon re-reading doesn't seem clear. It was one rear, and one instance of me getting scared and bailing (which resulted in her getting loose from me and running home). 


  1. The OTTB we picked up from the track last fall had sky-high rearing as his go to evasion. BM sent him to a trusted cowboy to be completely rebroken after trying ground work and easy riding (and body work and diet changes and yada yada) for months. A horse that want to go up and doesn't care if it goes over is not on my list of things I'll personally deal with.

    1. I'm totally stumped and a little scared, myself - though I should clarify that she didn't actually flip, but she definitely got close. I've dealt with rearing before with Bailey, but her rears seem slow and predictable and I could easily identify and fix the issue, where I'm just totally at a loss with Arya. I might have to see if I can find a local cowboy if it wasn't just a one time stress/construction/etc related incident... It definitely isn't within my skillset to fix it otherwise.

  2. Yikes that sounds scary! I have like... No experience with that specific breed of naughtiness. I had a horse that reared during mounting but no other time and through careful, slow deliberate work we were able to resolve it. My gut instinct would be to go in the opposite direction of hard work - like laying down some rides that are very easy for her mentally, where she can get the answer right then be done. So that she doesn't have this welling sense of anxiety. Or like. Rides where you get on, then get right back off again and be done. I imagine work like that (as low key as it is) could be repeated multiple times throughout the day so that no one session lasts particularly long, but that she gets a lot of low key repetition. Honestly tho idk. Is there a trusted trainer you can ask? Anyway good luck!! And awesome that Bailey is doing so well!

    1. I was just reading your ground work posts!! I think that is where we are going to start fixing the problem. I am hoping it was a one-time series of stressors and bad judgement but if not, she will definitely be going to see one of our local cowboys for some training. Luckily I know a couple of good, fair horsemen who are better equipped than I am for this type of issue!

    2. yea you might be right about that - like that one time she got freaked out and now she's all suspicious and squicked out. hopefully by avoiding too many repeats of the "badness" (for lack of a better term LOL) you'll be able to get her back to normal.

      hopefully you find some interesting nuggets in my ground work posts too! i'm not very experienced in that field but have tried to document everything i've learned. if you're really interested in following that route tho, there are a couple youtube series that have been really helpful for me. particularly, the first 15 or so videos (they're all like 7-12min long) from Stacy Westfall's Jac series (i've legit watched basically this whole series at least 3-4 times now), and Elisa Wallace's mustang makeover videos with both Fledge and Hwin.

    3. LOVE Elisa! I'll have to check out the Stacvy Westfall videos as well. I thought a lot of this stuff was phooey but it really worked for Bailey, so hopefully it can tame Arya, too.