Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Audacity of Hope (or something like it)

look at skinny race Courage!
Alternately titled "with friends like these...". But I digress.

Most of you know that I met Courage when he was still racing. When I met him, he was the been-there-done-that horse that anyone could handle. On the ground. He was definitely NOT his exercise rider's favorite horse and he certainly wasn't one they put new riders up on.

I knew that. 

Sometime after C came home with me, I started hearing more about why exactly the exercise rider wasn't a fan.

this horse be stubborn?!
Basically, before my friend the trainer got a hold of Courage, he had a nasty reputation. So nasty that his previous trainers never galloped him because the moment they'd turn him around to run on the track, he'd bolt until he was good and done.

My friend the trainer got C about a year before I started going to the track. And he wasn't going to pander to C. And I've heard stories about sky leaping and rearing and hopping down the track on his back legs because he was so mad that he wasn't getting to bolt.

loving the evening light
So when I met him, I knew he pulled like a train and wasn't a ladies' ride, but he was well beyond all that nonsense. He did his job and he was fine.

Once he figured out it wasn't going to get him anywhere, he gave it up. (Of course, his exercise rider was ECSTATIC to see him go. I can't really blame the guy.)

So at the end of the day, that's the horse I knew and that's the horse I know I can get back. Courage can and will give it up. And then he'll be fine.

hard things make sexy bodies tho
I mean, let's face it: Courage was perfectly fine for quite a while with me, but then we started stepping up the workload. And he's just not quite convinced that retirement from racing ought to involve hard things.

Unfortunately for him, he's too much horse to be happy tooling around giving old ladies trail rides, so he's got to learn to love his job.

He's a jackass, but I love him.
I've debated sending him off to different trainers, and I still haven't ruled that out (shhhhh no one tell the bank account. it would FREAK OUT). Honestly, the root of this problem is Courage testing me. He has his tantrums and he sees what he can get away with.

And to this point, he hasn't thrown anything at me that I can't handle or that is dangerous.

Even the other night, when he had his complete meltdown on the lunge line--when he started escalating, he got in BIG TROUBLE. And he only had to do that a couple of times before he realized it was a Really Bad Idea.

And quit.

It's definitely not a perfect situation, but I believe in the little guy. 


  1. Good for you for sticking with it :) I know you'll make the best decision for you and Courage!

  2. He's a smart horse and you're a good rider. I know you can get past this.

  3. Personally (as a timid amateur) I would send him to another trainer before it gets to the point, not saying that it will, of getting dangerous/too much for you. I just know that it was hard for me to trust Copper after he got wild and crazy, and I still have moments of doubt with him after coming home from the trainer (even know he's done nothing to deserve them). But you're probably much more confident than I am. Also, sometimes it takes a fresh perspective on life that can be attained with a new trainer to appreciate how life is with "mom." :)

  4. I'm curious as to what you do when he gets bad like that. How do you make it a really bad idea? (I'm always looking for new methods to try to communicate that something's a bad idea)

  5. I feel like you have a really good handle on when to tough it out and when to call in a pro for help, so you'll know if/when a trainer becomes necessary, and you'll know when he's testing you and you need to show him how that game goes. But I totally believe in the little guy too. And you, for that matter.

  6. Sounds like you're making progress, even if it's slow progress. He sounds like the sort of horse that needs regular CTJ moments to keep him in line. Rico was like that as a young horse, he'd start pushing the limits the second he thought that he might get away with anything. He was much quieter in his teens, although I don't know whether that will stick as he enters his twenties.

  7. I'm sorry that you and Courage are still going through a rough patch, but I'm so glad to see you sticking it out! I believe in you both!

  8. I love the last photo of Courage! For what it's worth, I think what you describe in this post is the epitome of a lot of TBs. They are smart and athletic and CAN have a good work ethics. But they are strong willed, sensitive and stubborn too. Riley and I seem to meet at crossroads like this every few months and seemingly a lot in the spring... a few Come To Jesus moments and he's back on track. He gets quite offended when I lay down the law, but I am just stubborn enough not to give up when he tests the limits!

  9. Sounds like Mr. Courage has a history of being difficult. In some ways, it must be nice to know that! And, that he can get past it.

    After your last post, I was almost going to say 'Maybe its pain related' but now that you have that background on him, maybe it's just his personality. Riding Rainbow's post from yesterday about Mo kind of reminded me a little of what you're going through with Courage.

    If you believe in Courage, I believe in him too! #TeamAimeeandCourage

    1. I'm not saying it isn't pain, but that's not the read I have on him right now. We'll see how things go.

  10. I have tons of faith in your ability to sort this out if you wanna. You know your stuff.

  11. haha sounds like we have the same horse ;P wizard can bolt. granted, since we moved to outside board, bolting hasn't been an issue (um, yet?), I'm sure he will still resort to it when he gets flustered/feels like something is going on that he can't handle/etc. so it's part me being careful not to overface him too much, and part me not letting him get away with it so that something else becomes the new norm. [hint- I'm learning to feel when he's starting to think flight mode, so then we just BEND THE HELL OUT OF LIFE and he soon says fuck okay i'm going to be calm then]. hopefully with enough repetitions, and him learning he's totally fine, and me being careful to make his job fun, it'll be alright. which sounds like what you're doing with courage. so, let's hope it works for us both haha.

  12. I think almost all horses who have some spunk in them will test you. Maybe you don't see it in every horse, especially if they get more regular training rides, but I think they all do it.

  13. I heard Parker was the same - not bolting but everyone hated him. No one wanted to ride or groom him, he wore a stallion bridle and standing martingale. Hearing this I was shocked...hes the easiest guy ever, the riders could not believe when they saw his pictures. They all have their demons...we just need to help show them life with us isn't all that bad.


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