Monday, June 13, 2011

Wipe Out

It's hard to tell from this picture, but my Circle Y saddle has seen better days.  It now has battle scars on the fender, the flap and the pommel thanks to Gabbrielle.  I was lunging her in the round pen reviewing our cues to change gaits, and each time I asked her to move up to the lope she went balls-out-racehorse-speed.  That wouldn't be a problem if she were coordinated, but she's not.

So, each time she took off with her legs flying in all directions I'd say easy to get her to slow her pace, but instead she'd do a sliding stop and spin to face me.  I was trying to figure out how to communicate with her that I wanted her to do a slow, easy lope and not that spastic gallop that was going to get her killed.  Any ideas from you experienced horse trainers out there?

Anyway, I said easy in a slow voice and calmly kissed just once to move her up to the lope and she started out at a slower pace, so I said, "Good girl!"

Right then she kicked out to the side to say, "F.U." and took off at her crazy legs gallop.  Before I could get whoa out of my mouth, she wiped out, flipped on her side in my favorite saddle, and slid head first right under the metal round pen railing.

I instantly thought, "She's dead.  Her neck will be broken when she tries to get up if it isn't already."

Smart horse that she is, she pulled her head out the way it went in before attempting to stand up, but she did still konk her head pretty well on the railing.  She came up shaking her head repeatedly.  Her neck was okay, but now I had to worry about a concussion.  I tied her up and removed that scratched up saddle and pad, but what really amazed me was that she wiped out with such force that she turned her splint boot inside out and spun it around backwards.  She did have a couple of cuts on her lower leg and I cleaned those up.

I walked her around a bit to see if any internal injuries showed up once the shock wore off, but she seemed fine.  She was very lucky.  After this incident I've decided that once I get some money coming in instead of going out, I'm definitely sending her off to be schooled elsewhere.  It's not just because of the difficulty I've had keeping her attention on me during lessons with all the distractions next door, but because every year she injures herself halfway through her training and we lose several more months of training time.  I'm hoping that if I send her off to a different environment with a trainer who can put her through boot camp or finishing school, who can put a book on her head and teach her how to carry herself, she may learn to behave like a respectable lady.  If that doesn't work, I might just enter her in the races with those young thoroughbreds, because she would give them a run for their money.


Jeni said...

Glad she's ok,and so you are.

I should take a picture of my childhood saddle... it's torn up pretty bad where my arab decided to roll in it.

C-ingspots said...

Remember this statement when you're working with Gabrielle..."Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult". In the meantime, if she's as smart as you think she is, work her without your saddle and ask her to lope. If she kicks out or goes too fast when you ask her to slow down, you change your tactic. Ask her to speed up, and when she wants to slow down - don't let her! Keep her going fast until your original idea of going slow becomes her idea. Get her good and tired, when she slows down, go to a walk and cool her down. Quit only when she's relaxed. Try again another day. If she is indeed a smart horse, this lesson will be learned quickly. Kicking out is rewarded by her having to go faster and getting quite tired. Momma must always win.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Aww...poor saddle :(
What a relief that she wasn't hurt, though. Sounds like Gabbrielle trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. hehe!

Does she have any racing blood in her pedigree?


Sydney_bitless said...

Poor saddle. Good thing she wasn't hurt. When I have a horse that goes faster than I want (like bolting) I will match or surpass their energy level. For example Mr.Pony used to take off at warp speed every time I asked him to canter. He would wheel around sooo flipping fast he would trip in the sand and landed himself a face plant more than once. So I started getting after him every time he took off, I would get after him and work and work and work him right when he took off. Just about the time he was like "gee I am getting tired" I would keep him going. By the time I asked him to trot he was good and ready to. The next time I asked him to canter he took off so I got after him again, making him move with lots of energy. Eventually the third time he took off nice and controlled, not wanting to work so darned hard. Horses are lazy animals at heart. Once they figure out they can conserve energy for real threats and situations they might need to get out of Dodge for they normally will calm down and conserve it. Matching their energy with your own is a good start though.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I agree with C-ingspots. Make her work. Make the right thing easy and like MiKael is doing with Storm, make the few choices she has- simple and clear.

Also the attitude of "I just don't have time for your crap" tends to make them straighten up and take notice. My little guy knows when I tell him to "Straighten Up!" or "Knock it Off!" He better behave like he is supposed to. It only takes getting after them once or twice and they get the picture.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I've never had any success trying to tire an Arabian (or any hot blooded horse) out. My approach is to ask for the canter, praise quickly, and ask for a halt or walk after a few strides, praise, repeat. She'll catch on that she will be asked to halt soon and will slow down. As for the turnng to face you, longeing with two lines (one on the outside) is a good solution. After she replaces the turning-in habit with one of stopping straight you can go back to normal one line longeing.

Katharine Swan said...

My only tip is to try not kissing. Experiment with some other cues. I can't kiss to Panama when we canter under saddle because he explodes forward as soon as he hears that sound. I think to certain horses it must just sound like GO GO GO! instead of, "Canter, please." :o)

Dreaming said...

Phewww.... I was worried by the title of your post. Glad all is well.

With my guys I do one of two things: like C-ingspots suggests, if they decide they are going to go at a fast canter, I make them continue. After a while they aren't so keen, but I still ask them to go on, not necessarily faster, but at least at the gait where they started.

The other thing I do is ask them to stop and turn, and immediately go the other direction. Thus, if you aren't going to listen when I ask you to slow down, then we'll turn and try it the other way.

Another thing that seems to work , something I have to work on, is my own body language. When I want them to go slow and easy, I move slow and easy, I slump my shoulders, I talk slower. When I want more energy, I pick up my own energy. I'm also very aware of what I'm doing with the lunge whip or a rope. If I want slow, it is down on the ground or by my side. If I ask for faster and don't get it, the whip comes up, pointing at their haunches.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

That's always scary when they wreck like that. Glad G was okay.

I think sending her to a trainer is a good idea. Young/inexperienced horses need consistent work to progress and trying to work around avoiding your nosey neighbors doesn't give you much of a chance to give her that consistency (not to mention how busy with everything else you are dealing with).

I don't think you can work her into submission...Arabians aren't really geared like stock-type horses, I think you might just have to back up and build her into being able to lope in a more relaxed and cadenced manner.

JanLou said...

Glad she's okay. Sounds like hard work trying to train her.

Katharine Swan said...

I had to return to agree with those who have said that making a horse work/wearing them out doesn't work on Arabs. I don't think I've EVER seen Panama actually tired. You simply cannot out-endurance an endurance machine. ;o)

You can, however, try doing something that will engage their mind. That's one of the ways I can get Panama to pay attention. I really liked Anonymous's suggestion of slowing her quickly right away. If she knows she'll be asked to change what she's doing at any moment, she should start paying attention to you more, rather than mindlessly running.

Breathe said...

I don't have as much experience but have had some good round pen experience. I don't think you can wear out arabians and they are so sensitive.

I find turning to be the best thing. When I was at the clinic with Kathleen and she had a bolter in the round pen, she turned him over and over until he finally slowed down. Then she totally took the pressure off. YOu could see the lightbulb go off.

That said, I think sending her to a trainer - or getting into a routine where you can work with her for 5 out of 7 days - is what it takes. That's what I see our trainer do. I can't imagine how much harder it is for them to get it other wise. Like learning to read with school only once a month.

Really glad she's ok.

fernvalley01 said...

Scary wreck!!! I agree with some of the other advice , but ultimatley with al the stress and intrusions you deal with , sending her out sounds like a good plan to me ! Glad she is OK

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I agree that it might be best to take her to a trainer for some schooling. Have them work on her cantering and get it under control and you can just continue with her when she comes back.

If she wants to run, I'd let her run. Then stop and turn her and run her some more. Again and again, until she doesn't like it so much anymore.

I have always preferred to chase my horses at liberty and let them flat out run and buck before a ride. They can do whatever they want when they're running free and they'll know they need to behave under saddle for me. I think lounging is controlling their behaviour just like riding is and they need some "recess" from schooling sometimes. Just my thoughts.

achieve1dream said...

I agree she might need a trainer just for the consistency. Between your neighbors and busy schedule it's going to be impossible to get a consistent training schedule with her. Just be really careful who you choose and visit the trainer without an appointment to see all of their other horses. I'm glad Gabrielle is okay. That wipe out must have been scary!