Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Rave Review

A few years ago, my riding buddy helped me to buy a horse at auction. I was looking for a calm, relaxed trail horse that I could do some team penning with. Princess Pout fit the bill nicely, my buddy did the bidding and we brought him home. Mutual adoration quickly began. I fit him with a western saddle, hit the trails and my buddy made plans to do some team penning. Sadly it was not to be. My buddy's cancer metasticized to his liver shortly after his 80th birthday a year later,  and PP and I were on our own.
When I found myself flat on the ground staring at the sky during what was supposed to be a relaxing ride, I realized that Princess Pout had some holes in his training. I made the decision to restart him from the ground up so we could be a team, and my broken ribs could heal. I didn't mind the ground work, besides I had my schoolmaster to ride while PP was learning what was missing.
Except things went from bad to worse. He became increasingly tense and spooky. We'd get something accomplished, then he'd go back to his bad behavior and we'd start all over. He was afraid of the wash rack, of the sound of the velcro on his fly mask. He never calmed down with work, he always worked up.
I had him checked out medically from nose to tail, had the chiropractor out, everything I could think of. My beloved schoolmaster had to be put down and my husband aquired a young unbroke horse, the ShitWeasel. I found myself with the task of dealing with two horses that frustrated me.
Then I got lucky, a former trainer was back in town and doing mobile lessons. She made her name with unruly horses that nobody else would touch, this project was up her alley. We set right to work, with weekly lessons with each and me taking the horses out individually. We soon got the ShitWeasel manageable, but PP was another story. It was the double edged coin of I wasn't doing anything wrong, but she wasn't having much luck either.
A few months later the trainer got a position at a barn that was too far for me to travel to for lessons. PP developed a crack in his hoof that traveled up to the coronet band, so he was going to be out of work for awhile, and we were looking at a year before the crack was fully grown out. The trainer encouraged me to sell him. She said I've put so much into him and have had to keep starting over. That there are plenty of nice cuddly huggy horses that would fit what I need. It was sound advice, since even she wouldn't get on his back.
Except- I don't sell horses.
Except- this horse was everything a girl could ask for: a gay guy who adores me. He is a heart horse. Maybe I could just be satisfied with having him be a yard ornament. Except- I'm not happy unless I'm riding. I struggled daily with the thought, and even called another former trainer in tears. After all, I take in the unloved and unwanted, the dysfunctional and the issue laden. And I've turned them into ideal equine partners. Why was this one so hard?
I decided that I was going to wait a year for the crack to grow out before I made a decision. There was no way I'd sell him with that and run the risk of a career ending injury in the wrong hands. Meanwhile, I would work on him and me, and try not to cry so much.
I was tootling on my favorite horse message board and I found a long thread touting this product. I read up on the symptoms of magnesium deficiency and since it was within my budget, decided to try it.
No difference. I didn't reorder when I finished the bag. A few weeks later, after a workout that ended in frustration and tears, I emailed the owner and asked her opinion. She quickly wrote back and suggested upping his dose for a week then letting her know how it went. It wasn't successful and I told her so. She encouraged me to keep trying and give it some time. So I got another bag and continued to add it to his feed.
A few weeks ago I took him out again and it was if a switch had been flipped. He was the calm quiet horse I thought I bought-and knew I had, somewhere. He seemed happy, and nothing bothered him. He was so relaxed I wondered if he was asleep. I saddled him up, put him on the longe line and walked him down to the local show. He used to be so herdbound that other horses would rev him up, tail flagging and squealing, so much like a mare in heat I'd even check under his tail. (For those who wonder why I use a longe line, it's because it's long enough that if a horse gets unruly, I can get out of the way and still have a good hold.) I wasn't about to ruin someone's show experience with a misbehaving horse, so we approached in increments. We stopped across the street and I let him look. He answered a few whinnys, then cocked his back leg and licked his lips. By the time we got on the show grounds, he was as blase about it as if he did it every day, even happily following me under tents. He stepped on a couple of plastic bottles, usually the source of a major bitch fit, and that didn't phase him. I took him home, saddled him up and rode him on the best ride we've had in years. I'm thrilled beyond words.
For those of you who have horses whose behavior is making you ready to give up, check out the symptoms of magnesium deficiency in the link above and consider giving Mag Restore a try. Of course, I always encourage people whose horses develop sudden behavior problems to have a vet check the horse out for possible medical reasons first.
I'd like to thank the folks at Performance Equine for giving me my horse back.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Pinktober!

October is my favorite time of year. I love Halloween, so much in fact that some of our decorations have a place in my home year round.
October is also breast cancer awareness month. Pink ribbon merchandise abounds in just about every public place. I was in Sam's Club last weekend and there were pink ribbons on everything from toilet paper to potato chips. It's nice to see what started out as a simple idea blossom into national awareness over the years. Even my horses have pink ribbon flymasks. Part of the purchase price went to a worthy cause, and they can help support it, even if they are geldings.
I came across something that, while not animal related, is so darned cool that I have to mention it here. Team Pinkeye Project is a group of indie makeup and other sellers along with beauty bloggers that are raising money for worthy causes, the one in October, of course, is for breast cancer awareness. You can read about them on FaceBook here and the blog is here.
I like to support indie companies and worthy causes, so I'm really pleased about this. These are an awesome group of people who have devoted their time and efforts for a worthy cause. Check them out.