Monday, February 17, 2014


Okay so now that I have gained my composure a little, I can explain a little of what happened today with Trax.

Actually things were going really well he was trotting out nicely, long and low and felt really really good.   We incorporated some of that into smaller turns trying to get him to stay in frame and I am finally starting to feel the difference when he is in frame and not, or at least I think I am.  To me it seems that when he is in frame he leads with his shoulder while keeping his body in line. That may not be the correct way to describe it, but he doesn't flip his hip out, which is what is "normal" for him.

We worked on the spin move and I really didn't push him hard. All I asked for was a couple of steps and although he was making a half hearted attempts he still sucks back into himself. But really I wasn't even upset about that.  Because at least he was trying.  His stops were decent, and even his backing up was not bad either.  I was totally happy with what we were doing.

Sooooo I decided to turn on the camera.   I thought I would just film some of the trotting to see if it looked as good as it felt.  I thought that maybe we would do a few stops and backing up.  Nothing fancy.

I got on.

His head went straight up

And he lost his f'n mind!

His feet were going about a million miles an hour in twenty different directions.  He acted as if I was wailing on him and all I was asking him to do was trot, nice and relaxed just like he was doing before.

At this point I forgot all about the camera and tried desperately to figure out what the hell was going on.

He raced around wildly and I tried so hard not to get mad at him, but I failed.  He kept trying to dive toward the open end of the arena, and finally I had enough. I took him to the opening and I side passed him back and forth about 30 feet in each direction.  I made him back up. I did all kinds of hard working things and then took him back to the center to rest and to calm down myself.

I'm pretty sure there was steam coming out of my ears.  So we just stood there and I took many deep breaths until I had calmed down.

I decided I needed to change things up so we went to the gate and worked the gate.  He did it but he wasn't happy about it.  He tried to crush my leg against the gate.  Rotten little F'r!

So I asked him to trot again. Finally he did, but it never felt nice and easy like it did earlier.  He was so locked up in his mind and I could feel it in his whole body.  I knew we were getting no where.  I asked for a stop and he did so I quit.

I don't know what happened.  I mean there were times when he was ten million miles away and just running blindly, and I didn't ask him to do anything hard.  Just trot.  I didn't ram and jam on him.  It was a totally unwarranted melt down on his part.

After playing the whole thing over in my mind all I can think is that when I got off to turn on the camera he thought we were done. When I got back on, he got pissed that he was having to do more.  So was he having a melt down or was he throwing a temper tantrum?

After I put him away, I had my own meltdown.  I still question my sanity trying to work with this horse, and even now as I sit here hours later and type this I am having to fight back the tears because I feel like giving up.  But at least I no longer want to give him away to the first person who will take him.

Trax is who he is.  He is a hard horse to reach, he always has been. He does not love arena work. He never has.  I know this. I have always known this.  He loves to go out to the desert.  He loves to push cows in a cross county situation, he will push cows across the countryside long past the point where most horses will give up.  There are other things he is good at.  He is pretty good at trail obstacles, he can even get over that fear of ropes if worked with enough.

But when it comes to the basics of "reining" he fails completely.  If I can't teach him the basics, he will never succeed.  If he doesn't learn to relax and accept, I will never be able to teach him the basics.  If I can't quit buying into his bad attitude, temper tantrums, or what ever they are,  we are never going to get past where we are right now.

I have often considered sending him to someone else to get these basics. I know I should be able to do it, but I don't feel confident about it.  I need someone who really knows their stuff. There is one person who I think that might could reach him.  If anyone can, it would be this guy.  I sent him an email to see if he'd be willing.  If he is and I can afford it with my income tax return, I might do it; as much for Trax's sake as for my own.  Then I will ask this man to work with Trax and I together so that I don't undo any good that was done.  We will see.  If he turns me down, then I will just have to keep going on my own.

After I put Trax away I went in and got something to drink and then went back out and got Sassy.  I saddled her up and we rode around the round pen.  I had attempted a lap around the arena yesterday while someone else rode Killian, but she was way to flighty and not ready for it yet so today we went back to the round pen.
She did pretty well, nothing to write home about, just more of the same, but I was quite pleased with her attitude, and even more that the only time she mis-stepped at all is if I turned her sharp.  I did bute her last night and this morning, so that might have been some of it, but you may recall that for a long time she was on constant bute and still limped. So I would say there is improvement.

I didn't put the boots on her this time either. I wanted to, but yesterday I found that I can't keep them on straight at all. I think because her toes are so long her heels don't fit down inside now. The whole boot just spins all the way to the side.  I want to file her down, but the trimmer gal has specifically asked that I don't so that she has plenty to work with when she comes this weekend.

She did fling her head an awful lot today in protest of the bit, but I just waited her out kept my hands steady and the minute she gave to the very slight amount of pressure I released.  Finally she got that all she had to do was do was give and there was no head flinging needed to get her release.

Oh, I do have some other good news though.  A called me Saturday and told me that there is a farrier in our area, one who believes in barefoot, believes in heel first landings, and one who believes that owners should know how to trim their own horses.  He mentioned that they are trying to put together a clinic in our neighborhood for some time in April for owners who want some hands on guidance.   He has said that he wants to keep it reasonably priced so that people can actually afford to attend and he is encouraging each person to bring their own horse to learn on.  So I am excited about that.

I did specifically request that they don't schedule it the same weekend as the Dick Pieper clinic though.

So yes, we had a rough day.  I have come to accept that Trax is not the super duper pleaser horse that I want him to be.  I have come to accept that he is never going to excel at Stock horse, but we will keep working for now, so that I can get better, and who knows maybe someday he will quit fighting me quite so hard.

ps.  I did finally remember the camera about 20 minutes before I had to leave for work. The battery was dead.  Perfect. lol!



  1. Hey now, don't be so hard on yourself...and don't give up on Trax as anything but a trail horse quite yet. I had many bad days with Miss (and sometimes we still have an occasional bad one) and I thought we'd never get anywhere. Don't sell either of yourselves short. Look at if from a fresh perspective tomorrow, that always helps:)

  2. I think you have come a long way with him, ya its a slow process and ya there will be backwards steps and craziness that you have no idea where its coming from. I say stick with him, maybe more trail rides and less arena work or arena after trail work. But just cause he is not gonna excel at it and does not love it, doesn't mean he cant do it. So even if you just wanna quit on it I would continue on, you like him and that counts for a lot.
    Kinda long comment, sorry. But I remember fighting with Razz so many times and was frustrated for months on end with her, but I liked riding her I kept on going. I am glad I did cause she is a pretty cool horse now and puts up with whatever I throw at her now but it sure wasn't fun for a long time, I wish I knew more I coulda done with her I felt bad for her some days for my lack of knowledge

  3. I'd swear there's something in the air with these horses. Maybe once we get past this fuller moon, things will settle down.

  4. My update is this: I have taken steps to contact a lady who does equine chiro and dental who is in my area. If it is affordable I will start with having him checked out. Just like I know to do in dogs...if you are having a behavioral issue, always rule out the physical first then, deal with the behavior.

    After chatting with a very close friend, who knows her stuff, this evening about the whole ordeal, she agreed that it sounds much more like a temper tantrum, than a melt down and she gave me a way to help him get over that. Basically he is used to working, and giving me a little and I'm happy and he gets to go have snacks. Today it didn't go his way, so from now on when I ride, it might be better to ride him for a while, then tie him up for a bit and go ride a different horse for a bit, then go back to him. Let him understand that we work until I say we are done, and sometimes that means more than once a day.

  5. I think it's a good idea to have him checked out. It sure sounded like it could have been pain. Seems out of character for him, from what I've read here. I think you have a good plan with the dental, chiro, and training.

  6. It sounds like a temper tantrum to me. He thought you were done and you didn't finish and go trail riding... Kat throws his tantrums in the middle of the dressage arena on me. Not really the time or place to sort it out so the best you can do is laugh it off and move on.

    Maybe your riding should start incorporating some mounting and dismounting in random parts of the arena, random lengths of time on the ground and random everything about it. It will sure keep him from anticipating when you are really done and when he needs to keep working. I loosen the girth a hole or two when I get off the final time. That's when my horses know- we are done now.

    You seen with Kat at the ADT, he did his dressage and cones, got to relax with nothing but his boots on and was ready for action when we dialed it up again. He knew we weren't completely done for the day yet, and was awesome for not getting much if any time to warm up. Duty calls when it calls. Trax will get there too. You guys are making a LOT of progress.

    As for the trail rides and arena work- Trax might hate arena work but if you move it out of the arena, he might be a little more accepting of it. Find yourself a nice flat spot in the desert and start using it as your arena. Work on the same things there that you do at home. The footing might be as nice at first, but it will start to loosen up as you work. Ask for your long low trot work, your same stops and keep it consistent. You can "walk your first mile out" to warm up, do your arena work and "walk the last mile back" to cool him out. It might make a huge difference to him in his mind. The first few times may be a bit tough for him to get the idea, but he still has to do things right, whenever, wherever you go. No fence lines for him to drift towards the openings on, so you have to set them in your mind for him. I knew a lady who did this with one of her horses because the mare didn't think she had to do arena work unless she was IN an arena.

    1. I agree. My desert rides are never just trail rides, they are conditioning and training rides as well. Cindy has some great areas in her desert spot for loping circles, working on flying lead changes, etc. I think it's as important for riders to learn how to get a horse to work out in the open as it is for the horse. We become just as reliant on those arena fences as the horses do. :-)

  7. That's awesome about the horse trimmer teaching people their skills! I wish someone would do around here. When I asked my old trimmer about explaining what she was doing or holding a little clinic for the horse-masters club, she said that there was too much liability in teaching people how to do it. LOL, Whateva....

  8. I've had those moments like you described in wanting to sell him to the first person who came along- it's no fun when it's all a battle, but perseverance really does pay off and if you two can work through all his issues, like Crystal did with Razz, you should be able to build a partnership that you are both happy with. It's a balance between doing what he prefers and what you want to do. I'm working on that with Rio now, trying to figure out what his future will be as far as what we want to do with him, and what he would be happy doing. It's no fun having a horse who doesn't like his job, so I hope you get it all sorted out- it all takes time! Also, great to hear that you can go to a hoof trimming clinic. I think all horse owners should have a good understanding about their horse's feet. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to hooves!