Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Think I'll Become a Monk

Gabbrielle's appointment with the farrier didn't go so well.  I arrived at the training facility early only to find that the trainer and farrier were already there and waiting for me.  My trainer debriefed my farrier on Gabbrielle's lameness issue and showed him all of her gaits before I arrived.  They decided that she should have shoes on the front feet for more support, because the inside of her coronet band is blown out a bit where it shouldn't be. 

At first I was thinking this would be a waste of money since she only had two more weeks of training and then probably not get ridden again unless some miracle happens in my life.  But then I thought if it eases her pain, it shouldn't matter if anyone is riding her or not, so I agreed to the shoes, even though metal shoes often times create their own problems.

At first we put Gabbrielle in the wash basin cross ties, but the farrier felt uncomfortable working on her there, so he asked if we could move her outside onto some concrete.  All was good until a gelding reached over the fence, touched noses with Gabbrielle, and then he squealed so loudly that Gabbrielle jumped straight up in the air and the farrier bailed out to avoid having her land on him.

The trainer moved that horse, but then the farrier was having problems because each time he picked up a hoof, someone would drive up or lead a horse past us and Gabbrielle started doing a little dance of excitement.  I'd say NO and give her lead rope a yank to correct her.  People, horses and dogs kept approaching us from all angles and Gabbrielle kept spinning around to see who or what was making that noise.  The farrier was getting frustrated.

Each time he tried to nail a shoe on, Gabbrielle would rip her leg out of his grip and throw the shoe before he could get two nails in.  At one point I thought she stepped on his foot and I was about to back her up, but then I saw that a nail was hooked onto the farrier's jeans.  If Gabbrielle decided to spook, rear or take off, he could have been knocked down and dragged off with her.  I turned to the trainer and asked if she could help him get unhooked.  Just then he did it himself.  That was a relief having my farrier's pants detached from my horse's hoof.

He tried to pick up her front hoof and I said, "pick up", which is a command my horses know, only Gabbrielle was distracted and not really listening, so she thought I said "back up" and she started backing up.  My farrier turned to my trainer and said, "She has no control."

My trainer laughed, but I was insulted.  I knew that the farrier wanted my trainer to hold Gabbrielle instead of me, but my trainer wasn't getting his hints.  He kept complaining about me to her, claiming that I was the problem because I couldn't get my horse to hold still for him.  I knew he wanted her to train me on how to handle my horse, but she wasn't getting it.  At some point I couldn't take my farrier's insults anymore, and since my farrier and my trainer seemed to be ganging up against me, I handed the lead rope to my trainer and said, "I think he wants you to do this.  Can you help?"

She took the lead rope, but she had just as many problems handling Gabbrielle as I did.  She tried using a stern voice when she was bad and praise when she was good, but it still didn't have any effect.  Then my farrier got out a stud chain and told her to put it under Gabbrielle's chin.  She put it over her nose.  Arabian breeders get really upset when you risk putting a bump on that beautiful dish face, but I've also heard problems caused by using a stud chain under the chin as well, so I said nothing.  I figured we'd lose either way, but at this point I just wanted to keep my farrier in one piece.

The chain wasn't having any effect, so I tried exhaling and that seemed to be working, because my horses usually exhale and relax when they hear me do it.  The only problem was that every time I exhaled, someone would say something louder than my breath and Gabbrielle would go on alert again.  People started washing their horses in the wash basin behind us, so the farrier no longer felt comfortable in that location.  He moved her out onto the driveway. 

I thought all this moving around was just making it worse, because in each new place we would have to take a few minutes to show her around to help her relax.  At this point I stood way back, because the trainer commented that Gabbrielle seemed to be feeding off my nervous energy.  I was more angry than anything over the way my farrier was treating me, so I just petted the trainer's dog in the distance since my help and presence wasn't appreciated.

Gabbrielle still kept rearing up as soon as he'd try to nail the shoe in her ouchy foot.  The trainer took the bull by the horns and started jerking that stud chain and backing her up down the driveway.  After 4 or 5 times of that, Gabbrielle finally let the farrier have her hoof and finish the job.

I could see that my trainer was getting nervous, because she was supposed to be teaching a lesson to someone in the arena, so I took the lead rope back and thanked her.  The farrier moved the horse again so that we were sandwiched between two cars.  When Gabbrielle pulled her leg away from him, he grabbed the lead rope away from me and started jerking it and backing her up.  He said, "This is what you've got to do to get control of her.  Horses hate backing up."

I said, "I understand, but there's a car directly behind her butt and I didn't want her to hit it."  I'm already headed for bankruptcy and don't need to pay for anymore damages caused by stupid accidents.

So, he moved her further out away from the cars, but then he put his tool caddy directly behind her.  She jerked her foot away and he moved his tool caddy, then grabbed the lead rope again and started jerking and backing her up.  He chastised me again for not correcting her right away.  I just sighed.  I couldn't correct her right away because she would have backed into his tool caddy.  I know when I'm being picked on unfairly and this sure felt like one of those occasions.

He then asked to move her back behind his truck, so the could work on the anvil.  I wondered why he needed his anvil, because he already put the shoes on her two front feet.  It suddenly hit me that he was preparing a back shoe for her.  I said, "You're not going to shoe her hind feet, are you?"

He said, "I wasn't, but then you said you wanted all four feet shoed."

I said, "I never said that.  I don't know what I said or what you heard, but I asked for all four feet to be trimmed and shoes to be put on the fronts."

He was annoyed with me because he had already prepared the shoe for her, but it was his misunderstanding.  The guy is notorious for not listening.  After all the hell we had been through, literally spending an entire hour just trying to get one shoe on her ouchy foot, there was no way I was going to have shoes put on the back too.

He said something to me and I responded, and he said, "Huh?"  I repeated my response, and he said "Huh?"  I repeated my response louder, and he still said, "Huh?"  I realized that he was too busy thinking about something to listen, so I just said, "Nothing.  Forget it."

He started looking around for the trainer, because I knew he wanted to talk to her about training me, but she wasn't available.  I admit that my head just isn't into the horses anymore.  I'm completely consumed by my financial problems, a health problem, and the sale of the house.  I am now looking forward to just getting Gabbrielle back home to her normal routine where hopefully I won't end up with any more extra farrier bills, vet bills or training bills. 

If I could just make it through the next few months without anymore problems, then we will be in good shape and I can start concentrating on the horses again.  Of course, by then it will be winter.  This entire year has put me into survival mode and all I can say is that I'm doing the best that I can.  If somebody told me when I bought my horses that I would someday be in the predicament I am in now, I probably would have never bought them knowing that I may not be able to pay for all of their needs in the future.  You just always assume that things get better for you financially as you get older, but that rule only pertained to my parents generation.  My generation has no security whatsoever. 

After that unpleasant appointment, I went to the bank to deposit a small check into my mother's account, and the banker asked me to swipe my debit card.  It was a brand new card and I was prompted to enter a PIN.  I said, "This card never came with a PIN."

The teller said, "Yes it did.  Just try something."

I tried the PIN for my other card, but that didn't work.  I said, "If that's not it, I don't know what it could be.  They must have assigned a PIN to it, but I never saw it on the paperwork that arrived with the card."

The teller told me that because the card was for an account in a different state, I would have to drive to a bank in that state and get the PIN reset.  I just don't understand how the bank could assign a PIN to my card and not tell me what it is.  I am going to California very soon, but I didn't have it on my list to get the PIN reset at the bank.  This always happens to me.  I make a very tight schedule and then something comes out of left field and throws me off course.  I guess I'll have to sacrifice something else, because I can't stay there an extra day.  I have too much responsibility at home.  When I'm at my mother's house, I have to stay there all day because I have a string of people who are coming there for appointments to meet with me.  The bank is a ways away from her house.  Plus the only full day I'll be there is Sunday, and it is closed, which means I'll have to leave town even later than I had planned on Monday to stop at the bank on my way home.

After dealing with the banking issue, I got home and managed to both spill my drink all over the carpet and drip ketchup onto my favorite denim top.  My clumsiness and bad luck is enough to make me never want to eat or drink again.  I think I'll become a monk -- just wear brown robes, stay in a monastery, take a vow of silence, and fast to cleanse myself (or at least to avoid spilling food on my robe).  Then perhaps life will be simpler and I might get a fighting chance at being treated with respect.  Nobody's going to tell a monk he has no control over his horse and that his nervous energy is causing the horse to go nuts.  Actually, a monk would never have a horse in the first place probably.  At least not in this day and age. 

Ultimately, I think that no one really understood what Gabbrielle's problem was, so they did what comes naturally to us humans, which is to point the finger at the low woman on the totem pole:  The horse's owner.  It's like blaming the parents when a child throws a tantrum.  Those of us who care for other beings never seem to get a break from judgment, no matter how pure our motives may be. 

Next time someone points the finger at me, I'll tell Gabbrielle it's a carrot.  Hee hee.


Katharine Swan said...

It kinda sounds like your FARRIER is the one who needed to be backed up and scolded!

Linda said...

@ KS :) haha... I do understand that farriers need to be safe though. I would have thought the trainer would have done it since G. is in training right now and you're paying her. And, unfortunately, I would think she would be doing much better having been there so long. I don't know about the whole monk thing, but maybe a nun. There's a shortage of those right now and they have some beautiful locations where you can go live. Plus, they pay for your schooling, so I could finish my master's degree. hahahha...

Katharine Swan said...

@ Linda, I agree, farriers need to stay safe... but they also should not be rude to those who employ them! Not a good way to do business. Besides, I'm willing to bet that his level of aggravation was exacerbating the problem. Everyone here probably has experienced firsthand what happens when you get angry and impatient when you're trying to do something with a horse!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Sounds like the kind of day where you just want to run away from everything, doesn't it?

Gosh, considering Gabbrielle is in the trainer's care, I think she should have taken responsibility for handling her the entire time. After all, it was THEIR idea to shoe her and SHE is supposed to be training the horse. This just sounds wrong! She doesn't seem to be making as much progress as I'd have expected, by now.

Reddunappy said...

I am going to be frank! That farrier would have really pissed me off!!! I never would allow someone to treat my horse that way. My farrier would never do that! I realize that he was probably really frustrated, but there are other ways to get them under control, and a quiet spot would have been #1. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. I have never heard of the problem you described, I would have to see it to understand why they even had to put a shoe on her??? I am sorry to say it may have been
unnecessary. But I havnt seen it in person so I really dont know.
I have been trimming my horses feet since I was 13 years old,(my Dad was a farrier) I will not nail shoes on though, not enough strength. I hope that this resolves her problem. The damage to her foot will have to grow out over the next year.
I hope things get better for you soon!!! and quit piling up!!!

fernvalley01 said...

your farrier needs a lesson in a few things , not good. I don't mind the farrier correcting my horse to some degree , but flat out fighting with it?? nope there are better ways, and a chain over the nose and yanking only goes so far. Undermining you ??? nope . As for the bank seriously ??? do they not have the internet??? what a trainwreck!so sorry

Powers Family said...

I agree with the comments, the farrier needed the attitude adjustment. If you park a horse at a busy intersection, the horse is going to do what they do, hence the social animal concept.

The trainer sounds like she is barely in control of the situation. Hopefully life stops throwing curb balls and lobs a good set at you soon.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

What I forgot to mention in this post is that this farrier has been trimming / shoeing my horses for 11 years at my home, and we've rarely had problems with my horses being out of control. He shoed Gabbrielle once before and she did really well, even with my annoying neighbor coming to the fence to interrupt. I'm just worried that she's getting worse after being with this trainer for a month and a half. She used to love people, but now she's afraid of everything. They use a heavy-handed approach in desensitizing her. For instance, they tied her to a stall and slammed the feed door over and over again right next to her until she didn't move. I worry that she's suffering from shell shock or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Cheryl Ann said...

I had an agressive farrier once try to trim my gelding, Sunni. All he did was yell "HO" at him and jerk the lead line. After that little episode, I found a new farrier. This guy is very calm, gentle, and uses a soothing voice and while Sunni snorts at him, he eventually settles down and lets him trim all 4 feet. I don't know...I think part of this IS your trainer's doing and it sounds like you are going to have to work with Gabrielle when you bring her home to undo what's happening...sigh...more work for YOU!!!

Katharine Swan said...

I thought that it was probably the same farrier you'd been using, which is why I wasn't harsher on him -- I didn't think you'd had problems like this with him before. But I do think he was probably exacerbating the problem with his anger and frustration.

As for the rest of it... There could be a lot of different things going on, but I think the most likely thing is that, even with your crazy neighbors, Gabbrielle is not used to the noise and activity of a big barn. When I moved Panama to our current barn, it was bigger than anything we'd experienced before (about 50 horses), and had other scary things like wash racks and an indoor arena. It took him literally months to get comfortable with all of that.

Also, wasn't this her first-ever shoes? I got the impression she was always barefoot before. That combined with a sore foot, and yeah, no wonder she was fidgety with the farrier. He was NOT being very understanding or very patient, in my opinion, especially when you take that into consideration.

Of course, it's possible something is going on with her training, or maybe she's NOT getting worked with regularly anymore (you said the trainer was busy lately, so maybe she's not been as good about working with G as she pretends). If I were you, I'd schedule another session that you can watch, and soon. If the trainer is still having a lot of trouble with Gabbrielle, maybe it's time to have a talk with her about what's going on!

smazourek said...

I apologize because this will seem like I'm chastising you but: STAND UP FOR YOUR HORSE! STAND UP FOR YOURSELF! What a horrible, horrible experience for her- you can bet that next time will be even worse. As soon as you saw this going downhill you should have taken your horse and walked. YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTELY CORRECT TO DO SO!

Sorry, but as a trimmer and the owner of a sensitive mare this story really got to me. I want to wrap that chain around the trainer's and farrier's necks! Get Gabby out of there!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through all that. How horrible for you and for Gabbrielle, too.
I can't stand it when people try to make you feel small or inadequate. They're just big mean bullies.

How is the situation over there now? How is Gabbrielle's lameness issues? Are the shoes helping?
Have you spoken with the trainer? Update, please?


achieve1dream said...

Didn't you say the trainer works with or has Arabians?? I'm beginning to think she doesn't know what she's doing with Gabrielle. It's not like working with Quarter Horses. I hope this was just a bad day and that things get better.