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Hanging up my pinny

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  • Hanging up my pinny

    I just wrote a long blog post about it (link below), so I won't re-write the whole thing, but here are the general specifics

    For those that have followed along on Cotton's journey, you know that the down bank has really been a stumbling block for us. He had a super bad first experience which may be contributing to it, but he just lacks the confidence necessary to answer that question.

    It's really strange too, because he is exceptionally confident about EVERYTHING else. He usually schools the banks without problem, he went to Dom's last winter for a few months going down them on Long Lines, I even took him down one he'd never seen just a few days ago prior to going to Full Gallop this past weekend. It's not even every time, which is the most frustrating. Sometimes he's okay, and sometimes when they're big or odd looking he doesn't have the instinct to just hop down.

    We did the P/T division and he was fantastic in dressage and stadium, and his usual awesome self on XC until the long pull downhill to the first bank question. Something about it just rattled him. He had a stop and then hopped right down the 2nd time (which is how it seems to go). But after that I could feel him absolutely deflate. He was sticky and backed off and it really just broke my heart. If there is one thing I can say about that horse is that he has never once lied to me. Having that stop broke his spirit.

    I felt the same thing when he stopped last year. It's not naughty or resistant, it's absolutely genuine.

    So I decided to give him one more fence to tell me either he wanted to be there or he didn't. So when he was backed off at the water jump I slowed to a walk, put my hand up and walked him home. I saw no sense in stuffing him around the course when he was so clearly telling me his head wasn't in the game.

    I've always liked drop fences so I don't think it's me, but of course it certainly could be. Who knows? And maybe a Doug or a Dom or a Boyd could give him wings and have him Advanced in no time, but that's not what Cotton and I are about. We're a team and if he's trying, been trying, to tell me something than I just need to listen.

    He's exceptional at the other phases, so we'll do CT's and the occasional dressage and jumper shows. There's lots to do besides leave the Startbox. If I'm being completely honest, it's a bit disappointing because I think of the future that I saw us having together, but I also refuse to keep trying to talk him into something that he just doesn't want to do. We could go back to BN or Novice and cruise around like peaches and cream, but I'm having too much fun with him jumping big sticks (and he likes it too)

    And, to be frank, with the direction the sport is going, maybe it's better this way. If only I could pick and choose which courses had banks . He's an amazing athlete and it's just the ONE thing he isn't good at.

    Thanks everyone for all of your encouragement and well wishes along the way. This isn't the end of his career, just a lateral promotion.

    Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

    The Grove at Five Points

  • #2
    Sorry to hear

    Not sure as I haven't followed this at all, but has pain been ruled out? Anything back end related could seriously be the issues as to why he's hesitant after. My gelding was hesitant with banks, inject his hocks, now he doesn't even question them.

    I'm sure your decision has been made, and kudos to you for putting your horse first, especially when you're running with adrenaline mid course and decide to retire. Never easy, but I bow down to anyone that does that.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm so sorry you and Cotton are in this situation. You two are a team, and you are being wonderful with him. I haven't followed your journey in detail so I'd ask if he was confident at Novice and Training, not that it would change your decision.

      FWIW, I have a now 8yo homebred OLD/OTTB who has great jumping lines and jumpers on both sides. He HATES jumping. Given an absolutely perfect ride, he'll jump something tiny. Anything less then perfection and he will not. Even ground poles get him upset. So we decided no jumping for him. Fortunately he will happily go around the sandbox all day. Thus I am becoming a DQ. It's amazing what we will do for these horse we love!

      Best of luck (and give yourself a big pat on the back!).
      They don't call me frugal for nothing.
      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

      Comment


      • #4
        oh no, sorry to hear. I love your Cotton stories.

        I know you've made a decision that is 100% in the best interest of Cotton. Before you feel too deflated, is it possible 100% back pain has been ruled out? My very honest very quirky guy always got a little unraveled by downbanks especially into water... We spent so much time trying to fix it, even involved several BNTs.. it ended up being physical. He never refused big jumps, it was always drops/ditches that backed him off... but he could eat up stadium like no one's business. He never palpitated backsore but the saddle that was flocked to him caused long-term damage despite many pros saying the saddle fit. He stopped having ditch/drop issues once that was cleared up. Night and day.

        Hugs and best of luck to you and Cotton.
        "i'm a slow learner, it's true."

        Comment


        • #5
          I totally understand your decision, and while it is hard, only you will know if it is right.

          Just tossing this out -- I spent many, many $$$$ on Ben, trying to figure out what, if anything was going on with him, way back when. His eventual chronic founder showed up initially in a reluctance to jump down banks. Everything else was fine, and he was totally negative to hoof testers or anything else that the vets did to try to find the problem. In his case, he was insulin resistant and had chronically sore feet. We didn't figure it out until it was too late to keep him in work at all, so you are right to listen to what Cotton is telling you. I had several respected vets tell me it couldn't be pain, because he wasn't foot sore -- it turned out he was only foot sore when landing all his weight on his front feet in jumping down. And there was just no way to replicate that much pressure on his feet in any kind of test.

          Best of luck with him, and hugs to you both! You've had an amazing journey with him, and a great relationship!! <3
          I have Higher Standards ...do you? Find us on FB!
          Higher Standards Custom Leather Care -- Handcrafted Saddle Soap

          Comment


          • #6
            DO NOT give up. Honestly....so he has an issue with one type of fence. Take a step back, keep schooling. My guy was quirky about water. He’d jump technical intermediate questions but then get backed off at a BN water. He too had a first schooling experience that rattled him..and is a very careful jumper. He had moved up to training so quickly...but if the water had a drop or jump in...nope. Everything else was DEAD easy. So I spent a year doing nothing but schooling. Getting in as many different water jumps as I could. Keeping it progressive and confident building. Then the light switch went off and he became fantastic. So much so that I let a pro take over the ride because he was going past a levels where I was comfortable. You just need to spend more time. He has come up the levels quickly...so give him time to sort out this one little issue.
            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

            Comment


            • #7
              My horse masseuse (who does Phil and Buck's horses) thinks there is a specific part of the neck that she finds gets jammed up from down banks. I just wonder if you have had any bodywork done on him to see if he is sore anywhere?

              My guy had a bad experience at his first down bank, where he started to put a leg down and then pulled it back and scraped it up pretty good. This happened when he was 4, and early this season at 6 he was still having issues. He had stops at 2 consecutive HTs. But we have schooled all the down banks we could find and he has really started to gain confidence. He just did his second training level HT at the Plantation starter trial last week that has the infamous "down ditch" on it which stopped him cold in the spring. No issues this time (he even won his division!).

              Not saying that you haven't made the best decision; I haven't read your blog yet. And I agree it's hardly tragic to stick to CTs and such. Do what you both enjoy! Good luck!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks for the replies. I didn't quote everyone's questions, but I'll try to answer them in one fell swoop.

                Pain: Pain can always be an issue and I definitely appreciate how insidious an injury or weakness can present. His body is in excellent shape with a very strong back. Stifles have always been the weak area and have been injected several times, he also is on a maintenance stifle injectable. The saddle is custom made for him (Stackhouse) so that should be good. Certainly can't find a painful spot anywhere on him, although the stress of landing off a drop is, as Bensmom stated, very difficult to reproduce.

                Bottom line, if dropping off is causing him pain then it is off the table anyway. His exercise and maintenance schedule is such that if he still has pain, then I'm asking too much.

                Experience: This is the tough one. I have spent thousands (probably close to 10k) on this. He has been with some of the best people around, and although he appears to overcome his issue when schooling, you just never know when THAT BANK is going to be the one to rattle him. We've been working on this for over almost 2 years. I'm not sure what else to do. We've schooled every bank in a 75 mile radius (and if you know this area, that is a LOT of banks). Schooling is not the problem, it's the random bank that pops up on course. Some times he goes, some times he stops. We've done 11 Training level HT, some USEA, some NCDCTA. Mixed bag of results. Without a bank - always clear. With a bank - 50/50. And you can't discount our local HT, the Warhorse Series had USEA worthy courses every time.


                Maybe down the road we can revisit it, I just don't know. I almost made this call after Chatt Hills, but then he schooled so well that I thought "okay, keep going".

                It's not like we won't enjoy doing other things, but dang I wanted to keep going up the levels with him. I would even love to watch him eat up an UL course, it's just not in my budget to have him in training. Dom was super with him, but the hit on the checkbook was more than I can repeat.

                I have spent a lot of time on his education and he's incredibly fun to ride. He is solid 2nd level and schooling most of the 3rd level (minus the changes, which are taking forever), and of course he jumps anything if front of him.

                The way that he felt on course . . . I know it sounds like I'm applying human emotion and I swear I'm not, but my gut told me it was the right call. He's a hell of a horse.





                Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                The Grove at Five Points

                Comment


                • #9
                  Gosh this sport is so humbling at times. I've enjoyed reading about Cotton and will look forward to seeing where your next adventures with him, take you.
                  Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook
                  Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses Website and Blog

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I can sympathize and relate, ACME.
                    As much as I enjoyed reading your adventures with Cotton, and cringing at his 'destructive tendencies' when he was a younger lad, if you feel it's right for him, it's the right choice.

                    I am exactly in the same boat as you, for the same reason but different type of jump- downsloped, and much lower (like novice height) and came to the same conclusion as I was walking off the steeplechase course after only the 2nd jump of my very first 3-day in over 40 years of trying.

                    Good luck with his and your future endeavours (especially if they are a return to the sport we both love)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ACMEeventing View Post
                      Thanks for the replies. I didn't quote everyone's questions, but I'll try to answer them in one fell swoop.

                      Pain: Pain can always be an issue and I definitely appreciate how insidious an injury or weakness can present. His body is in excellent shape with a very strong back. Stifles have always been the weak area and have been injected several times, he also is on a maintenance stifle injectable. The saddle is custom made for him (Stackhouse) so that should be good. Certainly can't find a painful spot anywhere on him, although the stress of landing off a drop is, as Bensmom stated, very difficult to reproduce.

                      Bottom line, if dropping off is causing him pain then it is off the table anyway. His exercise and maintenance schedule is such that if he still has pain, then I'm asking too much.

                      You've clearly done your homework and I apologize for even asking if you've looked into it being pain related. Problem with the colesnotes version

                      Glad to see he's landed the most perfect home with his best interest at heart. You'll find a new fun journey with him and you'll excel in a whole new discipline! Enjoy the new journey. You are definitely allowed to have a pity party, but do give yourself huge credit for doing this and make this very difficult decision, but yet easy when he's telling you that he is not interested. The world needs more people like you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        nothing saying you can't go do dressage and jumpers and play at some other things for a year or two - do some endurance riding, working equitation, fox hunt etc then come back to xtry - sometimes they just need a change and a chance to mull it over or you may find a new sport and never pick up the pinney.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          They are quirky sometimes and good for you for deciding that this is not, perhaps, his best job. I did have a horse who would NOT drop into water unless he had run through it first - this started after he stepped on himself dropping into water at a new site. His logic was flawed because he only needed to run through one time and that water would ever after be ok with him, and had nothing to do with the water but his own feet, but I had to learn that was the issue and picked my events based on that. This sounds even more random.

                          Best to you and to him in your new adventures.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have enjoyed following your journey with Cotton, rooting for him during the bad times & cheering with you during the good. I truly believe that our horses tell us many things if we truly listen, and it's wonderful that you have that connection with him. You have many great rides together ahead of you, with just a slightly different focus. Please continue to share your wonderful boy with us.
                            "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Aww, so sorry to read this. Cotton and you have been through so much with his early injuries, and now to have this sort of Achilles heel situation. You know best how to enjoy your time together -- hope it will be long and fun!
                              If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I had a horse who loved drops, would drop off anything and into anything with great enthusiasm. Getting him to jump a fence of any height was another matter. It just wasn't his thing.

                                I think you're making a very sound choice. There's a lot you still enjoy together without XC.

                                (Or maybe try driving? AFAIK, there aren't any drops...)

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by JER View Post
                                  I had a horse who loved drops, would drop off anything and into anything with great enthusiasm. Getting him to jump a fence of any height was another matter. It just wasn't his thing.

                                  I think you're making a very sound choice. There's a lot you still enjoy together without XC.

                                  (Or maybe try driving? AFAIK, there aren't any drops...)

                                  Cotton pulling a cart would be like James Dean on his motorcycle. He would totally use it to flirt with the girls “hey baby, check out my cart .....want to see the back seat?”

                                  Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback. I really, really appreciate it. And maybe after a couple years of doing something else we can revisit it. Only time will tell.

                                  He’s quite the schoolmaster for lessons. Some of the newer riders can feel their first big jumps, he’s so good to the fences, and he’s super at SI, HI, LY, and HP. Just got to get those flying changes down, lol.

                                  Im going to do a Hunter Derby with him next month. I’m sure there will be some eyerolls “egads! who is the chestnut without flying changes!” But it’ll be fun and it wouldn’t be the first time I had an eye roll behind my back
                                  Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                                  The Grove at Five Points

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Good luck with him. You will be fine with whatever you decide. My point was just that this isn’t something you fix quickly. And IME, when you are already a good rider (like you are) sending them to a pro will NOT fix it. You will do a better job. My guy started eventing at 5. He did 3 Novice events then moved to training his first season. I had NO issues at Novice but Training I had to really ride or sometimes school the water first. He started schooling Prelim fences the following year but I didn’t move up because of the water. My point....I’ve been working on his water confidence for 3+ years. This is NOT the same as horses who tell you they don’t want to play at all. My guy schooled great but just wasn’t always there at a competition.

                                    They get everything else but just need time and experience with one issue....and experience takes time. You can work on that without competing when it is this type of issue. Just because they do not move up a level a year doesn’t mean they are not meant to be an event horse. After giving my guy the time he needed...he moved confidently up through Prelim and now looks like a rock star at Intermediate. Even tough waters. He is not jumping green at all. So he is a 9 year old Intermediate horse.....nothing wrong with that. You will know when they get it. It was literally like a switch was flipped even schooling and then I was careful that before each event....like the week before...we did a confident building xc school.

                                    I just feel people think if they don’t move up a level each year something is wrong. Really some just need a bit of time.


                                    That said....if you want to just SJ or do hunters then that is fine too. But for me...even though I did stop competing in eventing for about a year with that horse (and really slowed down for two)...I didn’t think of it as hanging up my pinny. But just not spending money to run another training level event when that wasn’t progressing my training anymore. We had learned all we needed and it wasn’t going to help this one issue. And I just didn’t worry about it. Training horses takes time. So I kept schooling and improving.
                                    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Nov. 7, 2017, 11:15 AM.
                                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      BFNE, words to live by: "training horses takes time". Wish I could get some of my barn friends to understand that. Come to think of it, wish my DH got it a bit more than he does! (Just kidding on both
                                      They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                                      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by ACMEeventing View Post
                                        I just wrote a long blog post about it (link below), so I won't re-write the whole thing, but here are the general specifics

                                        For those that have followed along on Cotton's journey, you know that the down bank has really been a stumbling block for us. He had a super bad first experience which may be contributing to it, but he just lacks the confidence necessary to answer that question.

                                        It's really strange too, because he is exceptionally confident about EVERYTHING else. He usually schools the banks without problem, he went to Dom's last winter for a few months going down them on Long Lines, I even took him down one he'd never seen just a few days ago prior to going to Full Gallop this past weekend. It's not even every time, which is the most frustrating. Sometimes he's okay, and sometimes when they're big or odd looking he doesn't have the instinct to just hop down.

                                        We did the P/T division and he was fantastic in dressage and stadium, and his usual awesome self on XC until the long pull downhill to the first bank question. Something about it just rattled him. He had a stop and then hopped right down the 2nd time (which is how it seems to go). But after that I could feel him absolutely deflate. He was sticky and backed off and it really just broke my heart. If there is one thing I can say about that horse is that he has never once lied to me. Having that stop broke his spirit.

                                        I felt the same thing when he stopped last year. It's not naughty or resistant, it's absolutely genuine.

                                        So I decided to give him one more fence to tell me either he wanted to be there or he didn't. So when he was backed off at the water jump I slowed to a walk, put my hand up and walked him home. I saw no sense in stuffing him around the course when he was so clearly telling me his head wasn't in the game.

                                        I've always liked drop fences so I don't think it's me, but of course it certainly could be. Who knows? And maybe a Doug or a Dom or a Boyd could give him wings and have him Advanced in no time, but that's not what Cotton and I are about. We're a team and if he's trying, been trying, to tell me something than I just need to listen.

                                        He's exceptional at the other phases, so we'll do CT's and the occasional dressage and jumper shows. There's lots to do besides leave the Startbox. If I'm being completely honest, it's a bit disappointing because I think of the future that I saw us having together, but I also refuse to keep trying to talk him into something that he just doesn't want to do. We could go back to BN or Novice and cruise around like peaches and cream, but I'm having too much fun with him jumping big sticks (and he likes it too)

                                        And, to be frank, with the direction the sport is going, maybe it's better this way. If only I could pick and choose which courses had banks . He's an amazing athlete and it's just the ONE thing he isn't good at.

                                        Thanks everyone for all of your encouragement and well wishes along the way. This isn't the end of his career, just a lateral promotion.
                                        I'm so very sorry to hear. If you don't mind my saying, I am in awe of your horsemanship, on many levels. Hugs to you and your wonderful horse.
                                        My big man - April 27, 1986 - September 04, 2008-
                                        You're with me every moment, my big red horse.

                                        Be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting a battle of some kind.

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