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Terrified to Ride My Horse (Update on Page 7/8)

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  • KandC
    started a topic Terrified to Ride My Horse (Update on Page 7/8)

    Terrified to Ride My Horse (Update on Page 7/8)

    Back story: purchased a what-I-thought-was-lovely slightly green 7 year old OTTB out of a lesson program. I had ridden him weekly for about 2.5 months and fell in love with him. He was a really genuine, eager to please kid who did have a stop and was looky to fences, but would go over if you rode him confidently to the base. Worst things he ever did to me are refuse a jump here and there, spook at a plastic bag, and trip over his own feet.

    Moved him to a new barn where he settled in really well the first few rides; he now has a field with buddies and regular turn out. Then we had some issues. I started him in work on the flat 3-4 times a week with jumping once every other week. Then I left town for a week 3 weeks after his arrival. When I got back, I rode him in his field, and he bucked and reared with me. Then started refusing to go in the arenas, bucking under saddle, and essentially, just developing a rank attitude about work. Had a pro sit on him a few times. Then he bronc'd after crossrails with me, and I realized it was pain. I had the vet look at him who ruled out teeth, ruled in poor saddle fit. Gave him 3 weeks off (partially due to my schedule), sent the saddle off to get adjusted and refitted, and had a chiropractor out to hopefully undo the damage. Started him back into work on the lunge line over poles/in a Pessoa rig/in the saddle.

    I've ridden him twice in the last week at a walk/trot for maybe 5-10 minutes. Rode him in a lesson today (3rd ride, 1st actual ride longer than 15 minutes), and the second he snorted or tossed his head, I panicked to the point that I was in tears and the pro got on. He did hand out a buck or two to the pro.

    I have ridden some moderately sour horses- my heart horse had a nasty buck, a sideways spook, and a dirty stop in him. Last lease horse reared when she didn't get her way. It's not as if I'm incapable of riding antics (sat the bucks, sat the rear in the field), but to be quite honest, the horse has zero respect for me, and I don't trust myself to ride him.

    I've always had anxiety riding, but could push it aside and get the job done. For some reason, the second this guy does anything remotely slightly threatening, I go into a blind panic. What he does is the equivalent of temper tantrums (he doesn't want to work, he can't look at friends, he can't leave the arena so he will scuttle sideways, evade my aids, buck), and I *should* be able to handle them. I have the seat, and the tools, especially in lessons with my trainer on the ground.

    Essentially told the trainer today if we don't see baby step improvements in myself (and him) by the end of the winter, I'm selling him. Riding isn't fun right now.

    A combination of a vent post/advice post/commiseration post.
    Last edited by KandC; Jan. 31, 2018, 01:36 PM.

  • LuvRedHeads
    replied
    OP, I am sorry you are in this position. I followed your story here and on your blog.

    I have ridden 5 horses with Kissing Spine, diagnosed via XRay. Two of them I owned, 3 belonged to other people. There was a wide range of what each horse was physically comfortable doing, ranging from quite a bit, to completely intolerant and not able to be ridden, put out to pasture.

    It's not your fault. It's a condition that you didn't create and you may not be able to fix. It's just damn sheer bad luck. Some cases can be managed, some can be corrected with surgery. Some never seem to be fixable. It's entirely unique to your situation, how much you can invest, financially, emotionally and time-wise. There is no right or wrong.

    Signed,
    Someone that's been there

    Leave a comment:


  • KandC
    replied
    BlueDrifter- he went from irregular turnout and being ridden once a week at most to very scheduled turnout and being ridden 4-6 times a week after I bought him. Then when he was diagnosed with kissing spine, he was worked 6 times weekly on the lunge or under saddle with training rides every other week and being groomed on the 7th day until early October while still in very regular turnout. I mentioned in the update before my last that he was worked 4-6 times weekly by myself or my trainer.

    Currently I visit him weekly and he is handled daily (when he allows himself to be caught) at the retirement farm. Trainer and I are in agreement that this is probably not a horse that needs more training, more likely a horse in pain. He went from a very mild mannered, easy to handle horse to unpredictable and anxious. If I felt he would thrive in a program, I would find him a new home since my job doesn't currently let me reliably ride 6 days a week or pay to put him in a program. However, with his kissing spine and back pain, I don't feel that's responsible or ethical on my part to rehome him.

    Leave a comment:


  • BlueDrifter
    replied
    findeight predicted this in Nov 2017...

    I read the entire thread, but I can't seem to find that he has ever been worked regularly since he came home to the OP barn. That seems to be the biggest change, going from a regular schedule to an irregular one.

    That was the biggest fix for my new horse, who started to rear and become more balky a few months after I moved him from training barn to a self-care barn. Back we went to the training barn we went. He is ridden 3x a week and gets a lot more turnout. Trainer tells me he is a horse that will always test, and he does more with me than her.

    I owned 4 horses before this one and never had this type of issue. So it was a tough learning experience pill to swallow. I kept looking for a reason: it had to be feet, back, saddle, something... And truthfully, a new farrier did wonders with his feet, and I think chiro has helped him unkink from a roping life -- but it is consistent work and handling that has been the common thread, which I couldn't provide because his balkiness (read "back up at full tilt and threaten to rear) was unnerving. ( and "make him go forward" was not the approach that worked with him...not a horse to pick a fight with, ask me how I know, lol)

    I sure didn't expect that I would not be trail-riding and bush-whacking solo with a ranch horse for goodness sake (!) eighteen months after getting him. I had been doing that for years! He was good with others, but had my number. We are just now getting past that.

    I thought of rehoming him... a lot. But he continues to progress, gives enough to keep me hooked. I can tell you I learned a lot more about horsemanship from him. My other horses were saints, this guy expects me to step up my game.

    Leave a comment:


  • KandC
    replied
    Well, things fell apart as they often do. First cold snap in October and my work schedule making it difficult to rehab 6 days a week, and his back started to hurt, so we Shockwaved again. His eyes just said "I'm done.". So we pulled his shoes and threw him out on 24/7 pasture for the winter with tentative plans to start him back... And now he's anxious in the cross ties, hates being groomed, and difficult to catch. He's started rearing and bolting in hand as well, which is lovely. Currently treating him with Nexium for ulcers (and potentially Gastroguard if no change from Nexium). I'm at a crossroads with him- I love him *when he is good* but the horse I have right now is anxious and likely in pain somewhere, whether it's back, gut, or somewhere new. I'm torn between a second opinion, bone scan, and potentially scope, lig snip and/or reshaping surgery, or euthanizing.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sport
    replied
    This is such a great update. So happy to hear he is feeling better and everything is coming along.
    A good book to read is "That Winning Feeling" by Jane Savoie. When I was having problems with Sport that arose from misunderstandings in communication I found it really helpful. It is just a different way of looking at things and helped us in starting over in some areas.

    Leave a comment:


  • KandC
    replied
    Well, we ended up getting him worked up with a sports medicine vet in July, and to the vet's surprise, he has kissing spine.

    We injected his back, did some Shockwave, and started a rehab program. We're two months out from the injections and 4 weeks out from our last Shockwave, and he's doing well! Flatwork is really coming along- working on transitions, lengthening and shortening in all 3 gaits, stretching at the walk and trot, and some lateral work. He'll cool down outside of the arena for 5-10 minutes like a champ. Lunging is going well (although we still have occasional meltdowns) and he's learning his vocal commands. Jumped our first line (albeit 18 inch crossrails) this past week. I have a routine for grooming and tacking up that works for him. He'll sleep while I tack him up, plays with my hair while I groom him like he used to, and had an *itchy* not flinchy back the other day and enjoyed some back scratches. Minimal "anxious" face when he is bridled, and found a bit he seems to love- which is ironically the bit he first reared in. He's also much more reliable to catch in the field, following me, and just seems more interested in my presence. Even though he is ridden/worked 4-6 days a week, I make sure we have one day of grooming and grazing so he knows it isn't all work. I try to give him one "scary" or "challenging" thing a week to build both of our confidences; this week, it was lunging over a small starter cross country fence at a walk.

    Baggage is still there- currently working on removing a *panic* button in the outdoor washrack when he pulls back and hits the end of the crossties, won't walk into arenas if I'm riding him (just backs up, refuses to turn or circle, considers rearing), and I'm not ready to trust him for longer hacks yet.

    I'm just of the mindset that we'll go however far he will go, and if retirement comes, it comes. In the meantime, he seems quite pleased with himself, and just happier all around; I think we're at the stage where we've removed most, if not all, of the pain, and now I'm having to re-teach him work is fun and doesn't hurt.

    Leave a comment:


  • KandC
    replied
    Yet another update- we are now on week 2 of 5-6 rides/week, which are 10 minutes of working walk, 10 minutes walk/trot with canter departures both ways, 10 minutes of working walk, and he is graduating to a full 10 minutes of trotting work. He keeps his focus on short 5 minute hacks after his 30 minutes of work. He's stopped trying to balk in corners, attempts to focus, and will actually put himself in a long and low frame and use his back if I add leg! We jumped our first cross rail in 5 months 3 days ago, and he picked up a lesson pony canter on the other side.

    I've gotten braver- he tried to "forget" how to turn right in a corner a few times, wanting to stare at the horses, so he got a pony kick and a tight circle right, I've ridden through some head twisting, talking to his neighbors, and a few dolphin hops. All of which have been solved by more leg.

    He did have one meltdown due to liniment, so no more liniment for him. The irony is he's more sound post-liniment than he was before.

    Super proud of him- he's figuring out water puddles, is now focused in 2 of the 3 rings, and when we've conquered the rings, we'll move on to fields.... Still pretty guarded about his future, but I love the horse he is becoming. Right now the focus is on good experiences and building fitness and confidence for both of us, before we dive into showing/clinics/jumping. I hope we stay this way for a while.

    Leave a comment:


  • CindyCRNA
    replied
    And honestly OP, unloading him and getting a new one isn't a guarantee. I understand about being gun shy when you've had issues with him but it sounds like you both are headed in the right direction.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mukluk
    replied
    It depends on your goals but I think making progress is a good thing. There is no one size fits all with horses. Whatever you decide I hope you and your horse will be happy.

    Leave a comment:


  • KandC
    replied
    So, I agree with you BeeHoney. I've cut myself a little break because he's only been ridden regularly truly since March, during which we increased work from 3 days to 4 days a week, despite an irregular riding schedule due to my internship and the weather. I'm also putting in 90% of the work myself and I'm an adult ammy, who is still a bit timid and gun shy from the rearing and bucking he did back in September/October/November. So really, we are at 2 months of true regular work (lesson every 2-3 weeks, ridden every other day or so), with plans to increase to a weekly lesson and a true regular program from me as my new job starts this month.

    I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place because I told myself if he hadn't made progress over the winter, I would unload him, but we have made progress- he's probably back at square one where he was when I bought him. We just reintroduced cavalettis two weeks ago and he barely bat an eye.

    I was jumping him 2'6-2'9 with room to go higher this time last year, and others have ridden him prior to me and after I've purchased him. He's got potential, he's sweet, but I'm already a horse owner to a horse that can't jump and he was meant to be the jumping horse. If he can jump, but can't go as high as I want, I'll lease him out. If he can't jump, he can't do his job, and I'll have to figure something out. He really is a gem of a horse, but I can't figure out the physical issues enough to make leaps and bounds; right now, we're making baby steps.

    Leave a comment:


  • BeeHoney
    replied
    I wish I had a softer way of saying this, but it's been 5 months since you first posted and you still are only doing flatwork and walking five days a week, and the horse has a 25 minute brain time "limit"? I don't think this horse is going to be your jumper (and doubtfully anyone else's either) without some kind of a miracle, no matter what you do. That doesn't mean you have to get rid of the horse if you enjoy him on other levels. It really just depends on what your goals are here. Some people really enjoy a horse even if it can't be the riding /competition horse that they want. Although, admittedly it's easier to do this if have the financial ability to pursue all kinds of workup (as well as all the other stuff that horses require).

    Here's my take on it. If you were ever at a competitive level or in good work doing the job intended with a horse for a decent period of time, then the horse has a decrease in performance or an issue, veterinary workup is worth the $$$. If the horse is "promising" but has never actually been able to deliver and do the job for which they were intended during the time you have owned the horse, then expensive veterinary workup for a NQR type problem is probably not worth the $$$. Obviously these types of decisions are affected by finances, time available, and importance of personal goals vs. enjoying simply being a horse owner.
    Last edited by BeeHoney; May. 3, 2018, 07:58 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mukluk
    replied
    I so hope this has a happy ending. OP sounds like you have really tried (and still trying)? Jingles for you and your beautiful horse.

    Leave a comment:


  • OneGrayPony
    replied
    Originally posted by KandC View Post
    Yet another update- poll and neck pain has basically resolved. However, vet came out to adjust him this week and I mentioned he had a vertebrae that was oddly shaped and painful for him, and he prefers to rest his right hind and will occasionally drag his right toe at the trot. She found a left sided bony lesion in his thoracic spine where I had been getting pain on palpation, and believes his lower hock joints are in the process of fusing.

    He continues to be more and more relaxed in the cross ties for grooming, and now only paws slightly when saddled *if* he is paying attention. If he's distracted, he doesn't even notice the saddle. He's able to ridden in all 3 rings like a *big boy*, picks up his canter within a few strides, but still has spooky moments and has a 25 minute brain time limit. Upping his work load to 5 days a week with 2 being hack-at-a-walk (or learn to not panic in pastures) days and 3 being flatwork days. I am worried something else is going on with him; I never tested for EPM or Lyme since I'm on a budget as an intern, and I'm wondering if I should still pull those titers since I'm about to no longer be an intern, and can afford more than $300/month in vet bills.

    I just worry I've lost my chance at the jumper I've always wanted, and now have an 8 year old that can't have a career.

    Having just bought a horse that I've struggled a few months with I will say - sometimes it's about some time. Even though my other horse was "way worse", the newness of my horse to me made it very hard to work through. I've been letting go of my expectations of myself, and of him, and just doing as much as I feel comfortable with. Pushing my own limits to where I'm "just" uncomfortable, and then backing back down, the same way as I do him.

    I'd pull whatever I needed to pull so that I knew, and then I'd start back with the basics. Some horses just adjust way slower. And some are just way sensitive. And if it doesn't work, then there will be a time when it's time to throw in the towel and that will be ok, but I don't feel like you're there yet. You're making so much great progress, and it's great to hear!

    Leave a comment:


  • KandC
    replied
    Yet another update- poll and neck pain has basically resolved. However, vet came out to adjust him this week and I mentioned he had a vertebrae that was oddly shaped and painful for him, and he prefers to rest his right hind and will occasionally drag his right toe at the trot. She found a left sided bony lesion in his thoracic spine where I had been getting pain on palpation, and believes his lower hock joints are in the process of fusing.

    He continues to be more and more relaxed in the cross ties for grooming, and now only paws slightly when saddled *if* he is paying attention. If he's distracted, he doesn't even notice the saddle. He's able to ridden in all 3 rings like a *big boy*, picks up his canter within a few strides, but still has spooky moments and has a 25 minute brain time limit. Upping his work load to 5 days a week with 2 being hack-at-a-walk (or learn to not panic in pastures) days and 3 being flatwork days. I am worried something else is going on with him; I never tested for EPM or Lyme since I'm on a budget as an intern, and I'm wondering if I should still pull those titers since I'm about to no longer be an intern, and can afford more than $300/month in vet bills.

    I just worry I've lost my chance at the jumper I've always wanted, and now have an 8 year old that can't have a career.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sport
    replied
    Great update. Hopefully all is good and you get to enjoy this lovely horse. :-)

    Leave a comment:


  • Hopeless
    replied
    Originally posted by DrHB View Post

    Didn't you get the memo that this is against COTH rules and you will pay a hefty cyber-fine??
    Damn it, If I had a goat still I would blame her for eating it. As it is, I'll throw myself at the mercy of COTH.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrHB
    replied
    Originally posted by Hopeless View Post

    I was just offering a different perspective. And that is all it is, a perceptive. Not a judgement, not a condemnation, just a different perspective to think about.
    Didn't you get the memo that this is against COTH rules and you will pay a hefty cyber-fine??

    Leave a comment:


  • Hopeless
    replied
    Originally posted by Jersey Fresh View Post
    halt I don't think it would be unethical to put your horse down. It would a kind, humane end and the horse would not know any different.
    I couldn't agree more.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hopeless
    replied
    Originally posted by halt View Post

    Thank you. In case Hopeless is wondering, he has kissing spine, cervical arthritis, and major remodeling/bone spurs in his neck. He is 9. He protects himself well under-saddle and to a casual observer I am not certain people would immediately know he is in pain anywhere. He does not limp. He has his good days where we could waltz around a Novice course like it's nothing, and then he has days where when I swing over his back I can tell immediately that he is sore. He is servicably sound with a myriad injections and body-work, and I am happy to provide both to him (even though he is not being ridden right now) but I also recognize that, at 9, none of this gets any better as he gets older.

    When I've read a lot of what OP says, it does sound like a similar scenario. You know, they don't have to limp to be in pain. Sometimes that is easily overlooked by people who don't see a horse present with a glaring limp and assume that horse is sound and happy to perform when most of the time they are, until what you ask is too much and then the major misbehaviors (such as what OP is experiencing) start.
    I don't know why this as addressed to me ... You have to do what you think is right for you horse. All situations are unique. I was just offering a different perspective. And that is all it is, a perceptive. Not a judgement, not a condemnation, just a different perspective to think about.

    Leave a comment:

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