Dunamus, now a three year old, started training in April. He has progressed nicely. In fact, he was doing excellently beyond my expectations; however a couple things disrupted the flow. I mentioned in one of these blogs that he was still a stallion. The vet suggested we wait till both testicles descend before we castrate. I followed the veterinarian’s suggestion, but the odd thing was that the testicle never dropped and he never started acting like a stallion which mostly includes showing an intense interest in the mares. This spring all that changed; the good news is the other testicle descended and the bad news is; he started to act like a stallion.
Perhaps the hormones made him tougher and feistier to work with. But something else happened that caused me to puzzle. The problem is so specific that I didn’t think it related to his ‘coming out’ as a stallion. He suddenly got worried about me taking off the bridle and to a lesser extent putting it on to the point where the event pushed him to the edge of violence. I searched my memory because it seemed that his sudden fear of bridles was so out of the blue I thought it must have been caused by some mistake in my training. The only thing I could think of was that as he was becoming too familiar with me (typical of freshly trained horses with their trainer) when I was taking off the bridle one-time, he started to use me as a post, rubbing his head against me. To a novice this may seem friendly and cute, but this is inappropriate behavior for a horse to use a human as a fencepost. They are too big, we are too little, it is rude behavior and sometimes I suspect it is a subtle test poised by the trainee of who is in charge question. My normal behavior was immediate in this case. I thumped him with my elbow at the nearest place which happened to be his nose. He jumped back but didn’t seem to take it with any panic or excess of fear.
The next day I had some trouble bridling and later when taking the bridle off him, he violently bolted away from me and sprinted away from me across the field dragging the bridle with him partly attached to his neck. Now after two weeks of lots of bridling he’s pretty much over it, but I have had to make a special project of bridling by repeatedly putting it on and taking it off.
At the first he seemed so steady, I am surprised and disappointed that apparently such a little incident could have such big results.
Cypriot is now 15. He is very hot-blooded. I’ve had experience with hot-bloods, so I know generally how to handle them; although they can be exasperating at times. I sold Cypriot to a good friend and good horseman. My friend and Cypriot spent a year together the match didn’t work out. They just didn’t seem to get along. So Cypriot came back to me, although he had turned very difficult to work with. It took me a summer to get him back to where he was reasonable to work with. Cypriot still has his quirks or difficult behavior, especially when he’s fresh, but he’s been my favorite riding horse for all these years. I tend to fall in love and then get stuck with the problem horses.
I thought it would be fun to have a big macho quarter horse. He was six years old. I thought I could sell him. As we were loaded and about to head home with the horse, the owner I assume to provide some after sale encouragement announced that the horse had had some saddle work already. This discouraged me. You don’t know what kind of trauma someone has done to a horse in the past. I’ve tried to hold to a rule not to get a horse or work with a horse that has been worked with and partially trained. There seems to always be a soul scarred horse lying in wait, ready to explode.
Jihad was very shy and a bone jarring hard bucker. I could stay on, but I was always sore the day after. Later after months of difficult training I got the scoop on him from my farrier. Jihad had been abused by the previous trainer or at least I think of the methods as abusive. The trainer, a couple of cowboys from Oklahoma, front ended him that is threw a rope around his font legs dropped him to the ground saddled him and then rode him out (that is rode him until he stopped bucking) or more likely until the rider fell off. I surmise that he had been in fear of humans ever since. This year as I’ve been working with him a lot he seems to have calmed down quite a bit
Horses are like people. Big or little trauma often in the form of abuse leaves scars. I named him Jihad because after I brought him home I knew I was in for a battle. The trauma or abuse may be forgotten or buried but the scars remain; the pain and fear remaining in our souls is hard to overcome, nevertheless achievable.