Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wherein Courage Almost Gets Sold

What farrier day normally looks like
I know you're all like "WTF SB, you tried to sell your horse?" 

The answer is no. 

But I seriously considered it. 

What I expected
You remember how Courage threw his shoe a week ago? Well, my life is an ongoing shit show (cross your fingers it gets better in two weeks!) and the farrier was booked up, so we just kept our normal scheduled appointment for this past Monday. No big deal, right? The little man is probably a bit body sore and five days off wasn't going to make or break us. 

I wrapped his foot in highly attractive duct tape with flying pigs on it (Thanks J!) and let him live his normal life while I dealt with other things. 
Then came Monday. I pulled Courage out of his stall for the farrier and was surprised to see that my little bay horse was showing the whites of his eyes. 

Huh. Never seen that before.

It pretty much went downhill from there. Despite neither the farrier nor I doing anything offensive or crazy or weird, Courage just progressively lost it. We were trying to keep things calm in hopes of his brain returning to orbit. I even took him back into a stall to eat hay and chill out for a good 20-30 minutes to see if that would help, and nope.

How bad was it?


At the end of two hours, he had one shoe on and I legitimately thought I was going down under him on cement. Oh, and he was rearing/leaping straight up in the air every time the farrier picked up his foot. And kicking. 

We had to abandon the entire idea. We scheduled another appointment for Wednesday and I was given strict instructions to work that ****** down. 

But here's the thing: 

I'm an ammy. I absolutely 100% refuse to own an animal that behaves like this. Yes, I understand that I could just drug him every time he needs shoes, but I am not willing to go that route. A horse like that gets his ass sold down the road with full disclosure. I realize other people are willing to deal with that, but I'm not. 

It's dangerous. I'm not interested in dangerous. I don't care how talented Courage is and how much fun we've had. If this is a thing for him, or if he learned from the experience how to get out of a shoeing, then we're done. 

Plain and simple. I don't play games with this stuff. 

Now known as "riding weather"
The next two days, I worked the shit out of Courage. In one shoe. In a wet arena. Til he foamed. I don't really think I've ever just intentionally worked a horse down for the hell of it before, but it was very productive. I'd actually venture to that my pent-up rage made it very easy to be clear and directive and not take no for an answer from him. 

I rode like a total badass. "OH YOU WANT TO SPOOK AT THAT ******** WELL I'LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO SPOOK AT". I felt totally secure in the saddle and Courage was bloody brilliant. We had prompt, crisp transitions and correct bend and counter bend and leg yields both directions on and off the rail and lots of ring figures. I kept changing the questions which kept his brain engaged.

Correct work is exhausting

Honestly, those are probably the top two best flat rides I've ever had on him. He was light and connected and responsive and forward and even floaty. It was pretty great. 

And then the farrier came out again on Wednesday right after our ride. I had just enough time to curry the foam off and take some deep breaths so I wouldn't be channeling any extra nerves to him. 

And Courage dozed on a loose rope and was perfect. I probably could have ground tied him and walked away, but I still want my farrier to like me. 

So. Little bay horse. Not getting turned into hamburgers or sold. Definitely is going to step his flatwork up to the next level, though. 


  1. Glad he was better the second time around! My mom's Appaloosa was terrible for the farrier to the point of rearing straight up and almost breaking her shoulder. We, obviously, very seriously thought about selling him and even had a potential home but mom is a stubborn old cowgirl type (who's been around insane horses and is brave, lol!) and he's so much better now. We did have to go through the sedation and twitching and other routes. It's not a fun bad habit!

  2. Yeeeesh, that sounds really intense and scary! :(
    Glad you worked through it (like the bad ass rider you are) and you and Courage had a conversation about proper behavior. I totally agree with you about not tolerating dangerous habits, that's not fun for anyone!

  3. Sometimes I think being with one single horse is like a co-dependent relationship - you learn how to push each other's buttons (or which buttons not to push) and you get a little stuck sometimes. Then something happens (someone else rides, you have a come-to-Jeebus moment) and you're like "OH! HEY! He can do ALL THESE THINGS without losing it, so I can actually ask for more!" (Not that I've ever, ever had this happen to me. Nope, not ever ;) Good on you for demanding that he get his shit together! I am excited to see your progress now that you know he's capable of more!

    1. YES THIS! Glad you impressed upon Courage that acting like a batshit crazy lunatic is not acceptable.

  4. So glad he was better the second time and that you channeled your anger into something so positive in the saddle! Something must have been going on with him that day.

    I definitely had a similar experience with Promise a few years ago. When I moved to a new barn, obviously I had a new farrier, and he liked to do things during the week, in the middle of the day, so I was not able to meet him there the first few times he came out like I usually did.

    A few months went by and he called me and said, "We need to talk about your horse. She's dangerous." I was like, uhm...she definitely has the potential to be, but she is normally very good for the farrier, I've worked very hard to make it that way, what's going on?

    He proceeded to tell me she was pulling many of the same stunts Courage pulled -- rearing, striking, trying to bolt, etc. And was making his job very dangerous. I said, that's unacceptable behavior and I want to make sure it's safe for you to work with her, what can I do? So, I agreed to meet him there after work for the next several appointments. He was notoriously early (weird, right?) so, he was getting out of his truck when I got there and I didn't have time to work her first. Didn't matter, she did exactly what she was supposed to do: stood like a puppy dog, dozing, ground-tied, and only moved her feet when she was told to. He was amazed at the transformation.

  5. While no fun, I'm excited to see you guys take your work to the next level!

  6. Hehehe! Courage says five days off makes him CRAY-CRAY lol

  7. I know exactly what you mean about channeling your inner badass. I feel that make the difference between a quickly degenerating ride where in Steady acts like an asshole and a damn I'm awesome and my horse is too, rides. It is literally a flip that I have to switch in my brain. These talented athletic and highly intelligent TB have to be continually put in their place and we just have to ride like a badass mo fo to put them there. You got skillz girl believe it every ride!

  8. Oh naughty pony. Sounds like he may be a 5-6 work day kinda horse.

  9. yikes, bad boy C-rage!!! but it's promising that you put your foot down and he was like, 'oh snap, guess i better shape up!' hopefully he'll remember this and grant you more respect moving forward

  10. Ohhhh, horses. I'm glad he gets to live and may he have learned useful things from the experience!

  11. Way to go on settling his bonkers ass down!! He is totally too awesome to be hamburgers.

    I was riding a horse that had to be drugged for the farrier because no one had ever taught him any manners; I thought it was totally unacceptable, so I just carried a dressage whip on the ground for a few weeks and popped him with it whenever he got nasty or pushy. (He was more of a bully than just being freaked out.) He was eventually fine for the farrier (except for once when a stall fan fell on him randomly).

    So good on your for teaching C-Rage that acting like a nut is NOT OKAY!

  12. Wet saddle blankets, and all that. Maybe the little guy needed you to be the dominant animal and lay down some serious ground rules? One way or another, I'm glad it happened.

  13. Way to be the boss of that cute little bay! Glad you had some great rides in the process :)

  14. Exercise really does wonders for them - even the normally chill ones! Glad you had great, purposeful rides (which I'm sure you'll be able to get again even without crazy farrier incident), and happy he got his brain back for Wednesday's appointment. And I admit I've had the same thought of selling my horse due to dangerous behavior (rearing). I'm an ammy - that kinda behavior is just not acceptable period.

  15. Wonder if he was having a bad day that day? Glad you worked through it.

  16. Haha holy crap... that sounds awful. I think some of my best rides have legitimately been when I was pissed off and sick of whatever **** Tim was pulling. We only overcame the spinning problem last year because I eventually got so fed up and angry

  17. Is he normally bad? Charlie went through a pull-back/mini-rearing phase with the farrier for the past few times (I don't know if he got a hot nail once or was just having a TB day or what) but he's doing better now. Like you did, I've been making sure to try and keep him well worked beforehand (even if it's the days leading up to the farrier appointment and not the day of) and to be extra vigilant in heading off any *hints* of bad behavior right away. As soon as the thought half-crosses his mind to be bad I'm on top of it. Seems to be working, so I hope it does for you too!

  18. Bad C-rage!!! But I get it. I have had some of my best rides when I am in a "take no shit" mode as well.

  19. Way.To.Go. You took the Alpha role by the balls and he got the memo. That's awesome. They're like kids, they like and need an outlet to expend energy coupled with fair boundaries and consequences. 100% the right thing to do!

  20. Ugh! Glad you found the fix! Extra awesome flatwork!

  21. Hahaha, what a stinker! Glad you worked through it. In my experience, it's just something intelligent, sensitive horses do sometimes and you've just got to soldier through it. Spider still has days like this at 19 and I'm sure he'll continue having days like this until the day he dies. It's all in how you handle it and you handled it 110% correctly. Good job!

  22. wow, glad he came around. Now did I miss something, ot was he in a stall for 5 days, then pulled out just for shoeing? Cause I'm pretty sure my mare would be wound up too. I think the idea of him getting worked prior to shoeing sounds like a good idea, if your footings good enough, it shouldn't bug him to flat a bit even without a shoe. Sounds like being alpha is how he needs you to be right now, glad you kept going with cutie.

  23. "OH YOU WANT TO SPOOK AT THAT ******** WELL I'LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO SPOOK AT" <--- this needs to be my new mantra. I wish we could get drinks and discuss the ups and downs of raising baby horses. I'm totally with you on this one though, and why I'm done playing nice guy! Get your baby tb asses together or sold. We're ammys and we do this for fun and we're way too broke to put up with that crap!


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