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Time to call it quits? TB gelding & dangerous behavior

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  • #41
    I once 'rescued' a horse that turned out to be n/h for HYPP. This horse was skin and bones sitting in a makeshift shed, with mud upto his knees.

    Got weight on him, started to ride him and he seemed fine. Until anytime other horses were around he lost his marbles. Kicking, screaming, lunging etc. acted like a total nutcase stallion.

    I had the vet out, tested to see if he was proud cut, if he had Lyme and everything else.

    He was once tied to our trailer, he cow kicked the crap out me, hit me right in the thigh, the set back and dented the fender on the trailer. This was before I knew he was n/h for hypp. He got dangerous in the stall, you couldn't get him from turn out either. He bite me one time as well. That was the final straw and he was put down later that week.

    Stuff happens and it was a crummy learning experience for 18 year old me.


    • #42
      Glad you did the right thing OP, and sorry for the loss of this horse that you loved.

      I am sure that his companion did sincerely feel the loss. It is a good thing that horses move on emotionally so much more quickly and better than humans do. But I think we humans often find it convenient to minimize separations that cause a lot of distress and stress to the horse. One day they are loaded on a trailer and never see their herd and companions again ... although they have new ones they will adapt to.

      An anecdote that I think is kind of funny and sad about horse attachment. A farm I was close to had a gray mare and a bay mare sharing a pasture, and of course the two were attached. Both were ridden regularly but at different times, so they were used to the companion leaving and being on their own for an hour or two at a time. This was also a farm that had a number of boarder horses, and horses occasionally moving in and moving out on a permanent basis as boarders changed out.

      One day, by coincidence, the bay mare was taken out of the pasture by her owner for a ride at the same time that a truck and trailer came in the gate and up the long drive that ran alongside the pasture. The trailer was there to pick up a different horse. A short while later the truck & trailer came back down the drive, leaving the property with a different horse loaded, one of the geldings that the mares didn't really know. The gray mare obviously associated the trailer with her companion leaving because she galloped along the fence chasing the trailer and neighing frantically.

      Meanwhile her bay mare companion was up the hill being ridden in the arena, at a distance, something the gray mare completely missed. The gray mare grieved and fussed at the other end of the pasture near the gate to the road until her companion was returned to the pasture after the ride. The gray mare galloped back to greet her with more than usual joy. The two were not usually fussed over temporary separations.

      While the gray was was amusingly over-dramatic about the trailer, it was still poignant that she associated a trailer leaving with the loss of a companion.


      • #43
        Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
        I agree with (seemingly) the majority here - with a horse like this you're just waiting for the next injury.

        I had a TB gelding that I bought as a 2yo. He was stunningly beautiful and untouched (never aimed toward the racing world), and as sweet as any youngster I've met. But he was weirdly fearful of pretty much everything. Found out years later that he was an orphan - don't know if that was part of it or just another check in his "odd" column. But he had a handful of weird pasture incidents, including (but not limited to) flipping upside down and getting stuck turtle-like in his water trough. Sigh.

        He was also a slow developer - still looked like a 2yo at 4. I gave him extra time before starting him under saddle. And when I did finally start that process (as a late 4yo) I took it slower than I ever have with a horse because he was so prone to panicking. The first time I put a girth on him (having done this dozens of times with babies prior, I was slow and careful and keeping an eye on his reaction) he spun in the cross-ties, nailed me in the thigh and took off out of the barn bucking like a devil. So we worked on getting tacked up for a month before we moved on to the next thing. I sat on him in a stall for another month before ever mounting in an arena. And that was after lungeing and ground driving him for close to 2 months, eventually with a "dummy" (jeans filled with sand and tied off). It took him so stinking long to "adapt" to every new thing to him. And the adjustment period was filled with explosive moments every time. But he was so pretty..... (I probably would have given up on him sooner if he hadn't been)

        The first time I sat on him in the ring I had my husband lead him around and we stopped and walked and stopped and walked maybe a dozen times. The second day we did the same. Except for some reason he lost his marbles the fourth or fifth time and with zero warning shot me skyward. No moment of "I might hang on," no gathering of energy or moment of tension before the explosion. It was just that one moment I was sitting on a calm horse and the next I was further off the ground than I've ever been before.

        I sent him to a natural horseman guy shortly thereafter. He quickly became the trainer's "white whale." He's had him for 10 years now (? maybe longer?) and he is still dangerous and unpredictable and still occasionally gets rid of his rider. My vet begged me to let her put him down when I first sent him off to the trainer. But he was so good in his good moments that I couldn't imagine giving up on him when he was so young and had so much potential. In hindsight, I wish I had listened to her and done it. There's clearly something "off" or mis-wired in his brain. Or perhaps it's something like kissing spine? But I can say that with a decade of very good natural horseman work, the horse is no better than when he was here.

        Presented with a horse like this again, I would be much quicker to make the decision to give up. Because the truth is, even if you get past whatever today's problem is, you're just waiting for tomorrow's problem. With my guy, I knew that he would never be suitable for showing (which is pretty much all I do) nor trail riding nor anything else where something unexpected might happen.

        I wish you the best of luck, whatever you decide!
        My daughter's trainer told me about a horse she worked with for someone years ago. If he got you off you had to get up quick because he was coming around to try to stomp you to death. Turned out he had some huge problem where it was basically bone grinding on bone in one of his joints. He'd PPEed without red flags due to the wrong set of X-rays being sent to the vet :/ IIRC they either put him down or donated him to the vet school at Morven Park.


        • #44
          Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
          You are right about "trashcan" horses. It's a sign of serious industry wide deficiencies in breeding, training, husbandry, and vet. health.

          But the biggest deficiency is in the modern community of horse owners. In times past, with but few exceptions, horses were property and treated as such. This does not mean there were, of necessity, treated badly. A good horseman would treat his horse as the valuable commodity is was. But it was a commodity, property, not a "precious life to be preserved at all costs." It was not a large, hairy, somewhat retarded child. There was considerably less emotional investment. In today's world, where emotion has virtually erased reason in dealing with difficult problems, there is a fear and loathing and rejection of rational analysis.

          I have a love for horses or I would not have spent the last 30 years and countless thousands of dollars messing with them. But I'm not IN LOVE with horses. I like them for what they are, I don't imbue them with "majikal" traits like ESP or the ability to see the future. Those who are "in love" with horses develop a strong, emotional, romantic attachments that skew their ability to see the horse for what it is. Worse than giving them supernatural abilities, they anthropomorphize them and give them human traits like the ability to love, to bond, to reason, to have "senses of humor," etc. And final foolishness is an irrational unwillingness to put down an animal that is dangerous or living in constant, unmitigated pain or is otherwise no longer capable of being a horse without massive human support.

          This collection of foolish assumptions about horses is the root of the rise of the "trashcan" horse. Or, as Pogo so long ago observed, "we have met the enemy and it is us."

          I agree with a lot of this. Compare breeding practices in the US to those in many European countries and it's clear that much of the problem starts there. I am also of the (unpopular) opinion that the closure of US slaughterhouses has only exacerbated the problem of neglected and abused horses in this country. There is a small minority of horses that are truly dangerous to humans due to a brain chemistry imbalance or similar issue. If you're unlucky enough to end up with one of these horses, you no longer have a reasonably humane and economically realistic option to deal with it.

          I disagree that horses and the majority of mammals can't reason or feel some sort of rudimentary emotions. Reason is defined as the power to think, understand, and form judgements by a process of logic. I watch horses come to decisions by applying logic dozens of times each day. The horse's logic is simply different from and somewhat foreign to our own. Animal are smart in the ways that their species needs to be smart. People make them dumb and dangerous as heck by trying to assign human norms to them. I recently witnessed a textbook example of this:

          Woman who is a nervous nelly around all horses went and bought a mare that had spent the last 14 of it's 17 years on the same farm, with the same owners, and the same field companion. Now the mare was in new surroundings, with more people and other horses than she had collectively seen up to this point. Woman decides to go for a ride. She brings the mare into the barn where she is alone because the other horses are still turned out. She cross ties the mare. (From what I can ascertain, this was the first time in her life she's been crosstied) Mare freaks out, breaks loose, and runs back out to the gate of her paddock. Woman screams at other humans in the area that no treats are to be used to lure the loose horse to us because "she doesn't deserve any". When she finally catches the mare she shanks it so hard it cuts the mare's nose. "She's being a jerk! She's being bad! She tore up an expensive new bridle!" No. The poor mare was only doing what is sensible to a horse experiencing what it perceives as a threat to it's physical safety - seeking the collective strength of the herd.

          The mare has no concept of a nice bridle costing a lot of her human's hard earned money. She has no idea that snapping loose and running scared the human because of the difference in sizes. The human is a grown mammal and surely can fend for her own safety. She has no clue that crossties = convenience for humans. She just knows that something attempted to immobilize her head. And that gets horses killed. And she doesn't comprehend that the human is screaming because her size and speed terrified the human and the human is taking it personally. And is worried that she will continue running past the paddock and onto the road. The human is screaming and just hurt my nose. Obviously, the human is an additional source of danger and the mare's instincts to get away were spot on.

          And natural horsemanship treats the horse like an idiot by asserting that we can trick the horse into thinking we're bigger, badder horses. The horse knows you're not a horse, for crying out loud. I work with 2000+ lbs draft horses a lot. I don't want that horse to find out he's stronger than me. Nor do I want him to assume I'm as strong or even stronger than him and think he can challenge me or not be careful of my person. My strength is just different and is best left non-quantifiable. The horse and I are pleasant visitors in each other's worlds. At some point, he'll figure out that sharing his strength and speed with me is fun and makes me happy. And that I'll share my food and comfort and safety with him in return.


          • #45
            I agree, Wonderosa, that ignorant human behavior can result in scared, hurt and even dangerous horses. Some horses may be born with the wiring all wrong in the brain to be a safe domestic animal, but others are made dangerous because of human ignorance. I see people who treat their horse like you might treat a kitten or a four pound lap dog. Frankly, they would be better off with that as a pet, than a huge horse that they have made rank, scared and dangerous. Horses interpret our actions all day ever day, in their method of horse-think, and that can have a lot to do with dominance. Do things that make the horse think it could become dominant, and it might try. Those little signals can add up over time. And what pleasure do people get out of owning a horse they are too scared to even groom, let alone ride? Is it just some kind of bragging rights accessory?

            NH may or may not make your horse think it is being controlled by a larger horse. I use some NH groundwork techniques on my horse-- no idea what he thinks I am, but I am pretty sure he knows I am not a horse-- I use this because it works and I have a safe, polite horse as a result. Horses are too big and reactive to have less than perfect ground manners, in my opinion. It is a matter of safety-- for me and for the horse-- and for anyone who is around us, human or horse or otherwise.

            But I digress- point being people who know nothing who get horses and treat the horses in such a way that they make the horse scared, rank, and dangerous have no business having a horse. Then it is the horse that is blamed-- the human ignorance goes unaddressed and unacknowledged.
            A canter is a cure for every evil. ~Benjamin Disraeli


            • #46
              Originally posted by Sunflower View Post

              NH may or may not make your horse think it is being controlled by a larger horse. I use some NH groundwork techniques on my horse-- no idea what he thinks I am, but I am pretty sure he knows I am not a horse-- I use this because it works and I have a safe, polite horse as a result. Horses are too big and reactive to have less than perfect ground manners, in my opinion. It is a matter of safety-- for me and for the horse-- and for anyone who is around us, human or horse or otherwise.
              True. I never ignore bad ground manners. After the incident with the mare; me, my daughter, and another boarder jumped in to defuse the situation. The other boarder held the mare in the wash stall. My daughter kept the treats flowing non-stop while I removed the saddle and cleaned up the mare's nose. We got the mare relaxed and focused on us to the point that we discovered someone had taught her to "shake" for a treat. She forgot about her buddies outside because she found our company relaxed and pleasant. IMO, if a negative behavior like bolting is allowed to continue past a few incidents, it WILL progress from a fear-based behavior to a bad habit (horse learns that it gets out of work by running and starts running all the time). So take sensible precautions. (Like shutting the barn doors and using a simple tie instead of the cross ties for a while in this case.)

              The problem I see with NH and the idea of the horse thinking it's being controlled by a larger horse is this. Horses don't exert dominance with the goal of making the weaker horse less reactive. I can make the horse fear me. But, there will always be things that he fears more than me. Do you really want to have to waste hours and hours sacking your horse out at every little thing? Plus, no animal will willingly show others of it's species weakness. The weak get abandoned and picked off. I've gotten far better results over the years by being the rational human I am and teaching the horse that he is safe showing his weakness to me and asking me what to do when he is afraid. (I'm not going to cast him out of the herd! lol) And I'll always guide him through in a way that meets his best interests.


              • #47
                I suppose it all depends what you consider NH to be. What's in a name... I do not sack my horse out. I would not even have a clue how to do it. My horse does not fear me. Many people who do things that fall under the rather "broad church" of NH do not sack horses out, do not do things that people disparagingly include with NH. It is not a one size fits all label. To me, NH is a lot of ground work with the horse, paying attention to his body, his signals, and he to mine, and using ground work to reinforce who is in charge ( me), and how to work together.
                A canter is a cure for every evil. ~Benjamin Disraeli


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                  I will say, it is ok to be hardheaded, everyone is who they are.
                  Saying that, I think we can be hardheaded and still be considerate of others.

                  Why do I say that?
                  Using derogatory words like "trashcan horses" is not a word that sets well with many people.
                  The OP may not have noticed that some have mentioned that before.
                  Just hoping maybe that objectioin will not have to be repeated many more times.

                  English is a modern language and as such doesn't maybe has the extensive vocabulary others have, but we still can use what is there without needing to go there with any neologisms, I would think.

                  As for that horse, by what has been said, he was not even comfortable with himself, was not really adjusting to his environment and a danger to others.
                  No need to keep putting others at risk any longer.
                  Euthanizing was one way to resolve the situation.
                  Apologies that I offended by misutilizing English. I used the term as an intentional hyperbole designed to elicit a sense of shock. The reason is that in polite company we all use pretty words. Behind closed doors people say what they really think and it is often shocking. While horse people say nice things, their behavior, when observed, is quite shocking and I was and still am, so angry.

                  People would smile at trashcan kid, but then tell me she was dangerous and a piece of trash and I should send her out on the streets. In the same vein, my niece dated a kill buyer for awhile. They would purchase horses during the auction, then afterwards they always had the extra trashcan horses-people would tie them outside the auction area and just leave them. This was so prevelant that he allocated part of his shipment for the trashcan horses. This should be shocking and it deserves a word.

                  Im angry we breed horses to be unstable in the name of confirmation or performance. It wasn't my horses fault he was neurotically anxious.

                  I'm angry at the people who dumped him for three years in a store to starve to death like his paddock mates. It wasn't his fault he had no handling and no training and was starved to the point of malnourishement for half his life.

                  Im angry at the trainer who either didn't have the courage to work though the issues or didn't have the courage to tell me the hard truth that his issues couldn't be overcome. He can only be molded by those who have the skill to do so.

                  Im angry at my friend for failing to heed my repeated warnings to use caution and proceed slowly, to not press the animal. It's not the horse fault he was pushed too fast, too aggressively.

                  Im mostly angry at myself-whatever he needed I couldn't give him...I'm not delusional in that I think you can Love a horse to change them-it's a matter of tools and I could not find the tools to help him. Thousands of dollars and thousands of hours and I still failed him.

                  Pro-tip-I stood by a horse that I loved, that I had spent five years loving deeply, and I watched him pass away. Rather than lecturing on the usage of English grammar, I might suggest in the future you say "I'm sorry for your loss, that sounds really difficult"

                  i know this this is harsh, but it's a harsh topic, I'm sorry.

                  As for my other boy, he spent several days standing by the goats with head down. I brought him a pony mare, left at the vet, after somebody couldn't pay her bill, and he detested her for awhile but has slowly adapted and now accepts her and is doing ok.


                  • #49
                    stock I identified with the way you used the 'trashcan' reference the minute I read it. You nailed it, I got it and I'm sorry for the loss of your boy. You did your best.
                    Glad to hear your other fellow is adapting to a new friend. They certainly do grieve the loss of a long term buddy
                    One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                    William Shakespeare


                    • #50
                      I am deeply sorry for your loss. I feel what you are saying about his history with you.

                      You didn't fail him, in my opinion. You went above and beyond what most owners would do. And when, through no fault of his, it wasn't reasonable or safe to continue, you responsibly and humanely gave him the easy and merciful ticket out. Rather than tossing his life into the four winds of an auction, or random CL sale, or just turning him lose somewhere. As happens to thousands of other horses every year, whose owners truly do fail them.

                      IMO you were the hero for this horse. All that could be done, you did. No fault has to be assigned. Sometimes things just happen.

                      He is safe now, up among the stars.