Monday, March 31, 2014

Some Days It's Hard To Be A Paint Horse

Do you know how many times in a week I say "Poor Trax"?

Its a lot. 

When I see how he reacts to some things, I can't help but wonder why.  I mean sometimes his reaction is so over the top for what is happening around him, it just doesn't make sense. I can kind of understand the ropes, but there are things that don't make sense...bareback riding, clippers,  Other things that maybe should bother him, are nothing.  

I realize that part of it is from how certain people handled him, but part of it is just who he is a horse.  I can see that now even if I could not always see it before.  I have come to accept that no matter how many times I try to pick apart the story of his past, I will never know the full truth.  It is what it is, but I will always wonder what the heck happened to this horse.  

Today I had planned on riding but ended up in the round pen with him instead.  I decided that we would go ahead and do a little rope work. First we just did our regular ground work and he was a little wound up today, but I just waited him out and eventually he came back down to earth.  I also took my stick with the string and messed with him all over his body. Not hard of course, but just like you would with a rope. I rubbed him all over, around his legs, over his butt over his neck. It took a while but eventually he started to try to relax.  If he tried to relax, I took off the pressure.  If he even thought about relaxing, I took off the pressure.  Once I did that, he really started to calm down.

Then I got my rope and we started simple  I rubbed him with like a brush on both sides.  Then I put my loop over the saddle horn and asked him to walk out. At first he was kind of sticky. I was on his left side asking him to move forward. The rope was going down his right side and around his butt, under his tail and back to me.  He kind of ran away from it but not near as bad as I thought he would.

I was careful to keep my body turned off even though I made sure the rope went up, the rope went down and the rope flopped in circles.  It was enlightening to see him not totally lose it.  He eventually stopped to a walk.  Good boy!

Then I coiled it up, made a lasso and played rope girl.  I just stood in the center and whirled it around my head which made him nervous, but he dealt with it.   He did not care when I tossed the loop at his feet, but I only did that a couple of times. My lasso is damaged from the knot it was tied on on my saddle horn. Got to get my other out.

I got him slowed down again, and asked him to let me touch him. He said ok, but was wary.  I put it on the saddle horn again and asked him to move out while I was in his right eye. Then he lost it.  this time it wasn't even hooked around his butt, it was just straight to me from the horn.   I didn't do anything, but when he saw the rope on his right side it sent him right to his dark place again.  Head up, eyes white, mind closed...mach 9 around the round pen we went.

Once again, I waited him out.  It took a long long time but pretty soon he trotted, and then he just stopped, and stood there...shaking.  I walked up to him, took the rope off the horn and coiled it up next to him.  I then used it to brush him all over. He let out a big sigh, and did a little licking and chewing.

I called it a day right there. No riding needed today.

Someday's, it really is hard to be a paint horse.


  1. typo.....he did not care for it when I tossed the loop at his feet, In fact he hated it!

  2. Since most ropers throw their loop from the right side of the horse, it makes sense that he is more scared on that side. Someday he'll figure out that the rope isn't going to hurt him and that you are not the same as the person who traumatized him back in the day. I wonder if he would benefit from some emotional release oils. Young Living has a couple that work really well, one is called Grounding and the other is Release. You can apply them to his nostrils or on his skin- Shayla would know the best spot to apply them, and put them on just before you work with him next time.

  3. I think you are right that most of the responses you get with Trax have more to do with who he is rather than whatever his past was. Seems to me like his biggest issue is not that he is afraid of ropes or whatever, but that he has deep seated trust issues. I think the ground work, rope work, line driving are all great, but it might help you to go back even one step farther. Work on trust above all else. Maybe do some kind of training that is totally different from anything he has ever seen in his life such as clicker training.

    At this point in his life, he has had so much round pen work, arena work, etc. that he knows every time he is asked to do something it will involve stress. No matter how calm and kind you are he will always be anticipating that. Clicker training would be something that he can't anticipate and it is all about reward and trust building. If you can use that to build some genuine trust and enthusiasm, you can come back to the rope work later with a way to get through his barriers. I've worked with some badly abused horses in the past and found this appraoch to be very helpful.

  4. You know it's a full time job being bi-polar right? LOL

  5. If you can get a hold of young living's essential oils try grounding and release, like Shirley mentioned. Put a couple drops of grounding on his nose and a couple drops of release on his forehead.

    Anyway you can get a picture of his head straight on? I'm curious to know if everything is symmetrical. Are his eyes and nostrils level with one another? Is one side of the face more developed than the other? Is one nostril more flared then the other?

    Another thing to check is if his eyes make a popping type sound if you wave your hand back and forth quite quickly an inch or so from his eye, making him blink, but not scaring him.

  6. I keep trying to comment on this one and POOF! Ugh! Either way, we will catch up this weekend.