Back to the drawing board…

14 Mar

I had a great ride on Saturday, the sun was shining and I was actually too hot (and I wasn’t even wearing a jacket!). I was nearly blind for the first 20 minutes because of the reflection of the sun off the snow, but I’m not going to complain about sun after the last 5 months of grey skies! Corona was great for our ride, nice and calm and we did our first trotting intervals since his injury! He was sound, and happy and really relaxed, it was great. In terms of his recent aggression, it was still there, but still much better than it had been so I was pleased.

I was taking a training course at work this week and we were let out early yesterday so I thought I’d get out to the barn for an extra ride. Caught Corona, he came to me willingly at the gate and with the good stall behaviour back the last few times, I thought I’d brush him in his stall. This turned out to be a bad idea. I started with picking out his feet and he was happy enough for the first foot, and then as soon as I stepped back to do his hind, he pinned his ears and moved back so that his butt was right up against the wall, leaving no room for me to pick up his foot. Nothing I did changed this, he just kept his ears pinned, tossed his head around and swished his tail at me. That was the end of the me in the stall. I decided to experiment and I put him in another stall. He seemed fine at first, I was able to pick out all of his hooves and then the ear-pinning started up again so I decided cross-ties would be the safest option.

I gave him a really good grooming with the curry comb and he seemed to love it, I found a bunch of itchy spots and focussed on those and he was like butter in my hands. This was great! Then I got the dandy brush out and it was like someone flipped a switch and the horse-from-hell came back! I couldn’t even rest my hand on him without him pinning his ears and tossing his head around. Off and on, something would catch his attention out the door and he’d prick his ears forward and be his normal self again, only to turn back into the devil a second later.

I tried bribing him for lack of a better word – basically giving him small treats in those short moments when he was non-threatening, but he kept reverting back to the anger. I tacked him up on the x-ties and he was fine. Rode him and he was fine.

After my ride, I tried the stall again and he was good until the tack was off and then out came devil-horse again, including turning his bum toward me. So back on x-ties we went and he was relatively good (compared to the first grooming).

Throughout my ride I was thinking about his behaviour in the context of the eventual move to CG’s barn (likely in the fall) and the fact that this would literally be my horse. The shadows of doubt reared their ugly heads and I began to wonder if perhaps Corona was indeed too much horse for me. I never want to get to the point where I’m scared to be around him, but I can see this happening in the future if things continue down this path. At the same time, I know that if I didn’t take this horse, that his future with the Boss would be uncertain (mainly due to her hatred for this horse and the fact that she sends horses to the meat man rather freely). There is no way I want this fate for any horse.

When I was brushing him after our ride and was talking to the Boss, I said, “you know, this horse is making it really hard for me to like him right now!” and proceeded to explain what happened during our grooming session. She didn’t really know what to advise because nothing happened that should have triggered this behaviour. She then proceeded to tell me that if I decided that I didn’t like the horse anymore, that she would get me a different one to work with and she’d have Corona put down because she wouldn’t want to just pass along the problem. On one hand, I was shocked, but not for the reason you’re probably thinking…I was shocked that she said she would put him down rather than send him to the meat man. Regardless, this isn’t something I want to even consider. I was hoping she would say that if I thought he was too much for me, that she’d find him a new home. Guess not.

I spent last night googling “aggressive horses” and watching Parelli videos in hopes of coming up with a plan. I’m still optimistic that we can reverse this behaviour, but I’m extremely disheartened at the entire situation.

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