Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes its in the little details

I used to ride a big grey horse who by nature was an ungenerous bastard who would give you nothing. If you weren't 100% he would try and destroy you. And I agonised over that horse. I tried a million different bits, saddles, girths, chiros, massage therapists, holistic blah blah blah and on and on looking for what ever was the cause of what made this horse so surly and difficult. And I could never find it. He was a product of his earlier training and in the end, I wasn't the rider for the horse and I sold him on.

I think though he has coloured my thinking, because I was ridiculed for looking for a pain issue and in both the Kate and Bill I have missed a pain issue. Kates stopping from her knee and I should have picked that up earlier. Though in my defense it was very mild arthritis, but enough to make Kate pack it in. And I feel terrible about Bill because I feel with my experience I shouldn't be missing things like this.

Bill was making really good progress at the start of the season and coming on but had a little bit of a buck when she was unbalanced and was easily managed. Then I changed her gear set up and without really putting it together we started to stagnate. I have been frustrated with the lack of progress and her attitude. She has been resistant and surly and the buck has gotten worse and worse until of course I ended up being ejected on my head. She was definitely telling me more and more emphatically that she wasn't happy. And I just didn't pick up on it. Even after the head injury I hadn't changed the girth, just her bridle.

Then one day the light hit her coat slightly differently and the shine gave away a tiny dip in her side. I was like say what and then realised it was from the buckles on my stupid girth- even through the saddle flaps. For the record the girth was a shaped wintec girth, brand spanking new. I ran my hand down her side and she was hugely girthy. Stink. I gave her plenty of time off and now she is in a fleece girth with elastic at either end. And it's like I have given her a brain transplant. She is so settled, forward and happy in herself. She still swishes her tail but has yet to feel like she would buck.

Today she happily trotted around jumps up to about 70cm, even over barrels on their sides and felt like the horse I had at the start of the year but actually better because she didn't love that girth either. Such a tiny tiny thing and it's made a huge difference and had I been smarter and given her the benefit of the doubt I could have saved myself a head injury. Sorry Bill.


  1. You picked it up now and fixed it and that's what counts. These things can be very hard to pin down. Just knowing it might well have been pain and trying to fix it is miles ahead of where a lot of people are.

  2. It happens, it hurts to find out that we missed something but it happens. But in reality you did find it. Not right off but you kept looking until you had a happy horse and that is what matters. Great job for figuring it out.

  3. It's like a scavenger hunt trying to pin point the source of acting out. At least in your case it could be traced back to something physical which is probably both a relief and a frustration. Some horses act out enormously over the slightest discomfort while others go ages with their disdain gaining strength over time. You've done right by Bill figuring out the source! *Also, Connie looks like a blast to ride!

  4. What a crazy thing to react to! That said, my mare also hated the wintec girths, though not to that extent. Glad you got it figured out.