April 03, 2011

Biting off more than I can chew

I arrived today with a little bit of worry about how things would go with my first day leasing Pstar.  The mares and Eksodus were in the arena, no cars were in the drive so it was just me.  I had my green halter with me, so I went into the arena to get Pstar.  Eksodus came trotting right up to me and I pet his neck, expecting his usual nibble but he didn't seem even interested in nipping.  Excellent.  Pstar was over by some hay munching away.  I wandered over to her and put the halter on.  She was sweet and dutifully followed me to the barn.

I brought her into the crosstie area only to find the crossties were gone, most likely Laurie had moved them to the new place.  I figured I would quick release knot Pstar to one of the poles and begin grooming but Pstar had other thoughts.  She didn't stand still enough for me to get her tied and kept swinging her hind quarters around as she paced in the area.  I brought her into the aisle instead and tried to tie her to one of the poles on the stalls.  She again swung back and forth, neighing at the top of her lungs.  I kept trying to get her tied but each time I was nearly getting tied I had to duck out of the way or defend my space so I wouldn't get smooshed against the side of the stall.  The tears began welling up...second time that I've felt this frustrated with her and been brought to tears (though I didn't describe pulling over on the side of the road to ball my eyes out after the first incident but now I'll admit that since it's becoming a theme).  I can't seem to work well with her unless Laurie is there, which doesn't bode well for a lease where I will be with her alone most of the time. 

Finally Pstar calmed down, perhaps she sensed my tears and decided to behave so I could begin currying her coat.  The grooming went well for the most part, I used the shedding tool and rid her of a lot of hair.  Hoof picking went pretty well, I was prepared with the two hands and able to get her legs calm much faster, yippee for small victories.  Then I brought out the Mane and Tail and went to work on her mane and tail.  Her hair became very silky and glistened.  I grabbed the western saddle pad and put that on her back, then I grabbed the western saddle and placed that on her back.  As I worked to slowly tighten the girth the fire came up in her again, she lurched to the side bulldozing into me.  I backed away and let her feel the saddle and girth and then went to tighten it some more, same thing.  Uge.  This isn't fun.

I finally felt the saddle was at least snug enough so I took her halter off and placed the new rope halter I had.  Rope halters have a series of knots that are supposed to be at pressure points and are good for training.  Pstar was tossing her head a lot as I tried to tie the halter.  Finally we were set so I brought her outside.  Since the mares were in the arena and Gadiel was in the round pen I figured I'd work on leading ground work with Pstar.  She skipped around as we approached a flatbed trailer and my parked car.  I walked her past the offending objects many times.  Several times Pstar would ram right into me and I tried to get big and get her out of my space.  Things went well and then issues would pop up, then things would go well and she'd walk nicely beside me, then she'd jig some more.  So went the next half hour. 

Laurie showed up about then and was excited since some people were coming to look at Eksmisha.  Laurie had suggested I get the lunge whip and walk Pstar down the driveway.  I looked for the whip and found that it was in the crosstie area.  I brought Pstar up onto the platform but she began dancing about and skipping around (I really don't know how to describe it).  I tried to reach for the lunge whip amongst the chaos but got a pole between Pstar and I in the mean time and when she jerked out to the aisle I got stopped by the pole....ouch.  Finally I led her out of the stable as two men in suits were heading in to discuss Eksmisha.

Walking down the path with the whip; I kept trying to gain control, find a comfortable grip and figure out how to position it just right.  I felt I had even less control of Pstar so I said screw it and tossed it on the ground, I'll come back for it later.  I walked Pstar down the driveway.  She jigged and skipped next to me, and kept crossing in front of me as she was interested in the mares back at the stable or in what Laurie was doing with the men and Eksmisha.  I remembered from Julie Goodnight how to deal with an unruly horse on the ground, and moved my hands with the lead up in front of her face to get her out of my space.  It worked a little but was very tiring.  I got tired of it and moved her in a small circle several times then proceeded to walk straight again.  Things went a little better but I had issues turning her away from me and out of my space.

The wind was picking up and it was getting cold.  I decided to take her back to the stable.  I brought her up into the crosstie area again but again she was acting like a nut case, I couldn't get the lead anywhere near anything to tie.  In the stable aisle I had the same issue.  Laurie mentioned she was being a little pill and suggested I tie her in the stall.  I accomplished that, eventually, amidst her swinging body and screaming neighs.  I took the saddle off and ducked out of the stall only to have Pstar push her way out of the stall and swing around the aisle while she was still tied.  I quickly chose to place the saddle on the side of the adjacent stall; the way she was acting I didn't trust her to have me walk to the tack room to place the saddle where it belonged.  The last thing I needed was for her to get loose on me.  I brought her back into the stall and tried to groom her and calm her but her constant piercing neighs blotted out all my efforts.  Several times I had to move pretty quick as Pstar swung one way or another.  I stood at one side of the stall for a few minutes, catching my breathe and choking back tears not sure what to do.  What have I gotten myself into?

Eventually I finished grooming her and was able to pick her feet.  Laurie asked me to put her into the outdoor stall so I did but had issues yet again.  I brought her in and turned her around to reach for the gate but Pstar bolted through the gate.  So I turned her again to get into the stall and tried to grab the gate while having a closer hold on Pstar to prevent her leaping through the exit.  She moved about quickly and stepped firmly on my foot.  Ouch!  Laurie came out of the stable and closed the gate for me.  I took off Pstar's halter and slipped out of the gate as Laurie closed it.  To finish up I cleaned up the last bits of poop Pstar had left in the aisle and crosstie area then went outside to fetch the lunge whip.

I was soooo ready to go home.  I cried all the way home.  This was not what I wanted.  It seems that every time I work with Pstar with Laurie things go pretty well.  Alone things just go to shit.  She's too much horse for me.  Too young, too spirited and not trained enough.  I did not feel safe today and am not sure if I'll want to go out again.  I don't know what to do.  I have this lease contract for a year (why did I do this?).  She's not under saddle, what was I thinking?  I'm stuck.  I know there is a two week notice clause and I can end the lease.  I just feel bad but perhaps I had romantic views about how leasing Pstar would be like, I didn't listen to the voice in the back of my head.  Truth is I'm not a trainer and I don't know how to deal with such unruly young behavior.  I need a well mannered, well trained horse for a lease or to buy.  I don't know what to do at this point.  Laurie may have the confidence in me but I don't and I also don't have the desire to train a horse from the ground up.  I don't know what to do.

Pstar is sweet to pet and love on in the pasture but to work with, I just can't deal with a horse that freaks out at a parked car, crashes into my as we walk and swings her body blindly for no apparent reason.  I miss Willy, a nice calm horse that I didn't have to worry about and that I felt safe with.  What am I to do now?  I have a lot of thinking to do.  I don't want to back out on Laurie but again, I can't pay $300 a month to be miserable and scared.  I feel I've made a terrible mistake...


lytha said...

after reading this and sympathizing a lot, i couldn't help but gasp at the price - 300 per month!!!???

this is the situation i've found here a lot while looking for lease horses. people are very excited about me paying them to train their greenbroke horses and get them trail safe.

in my opinion they should be paying me if the horse is green. not finished is ok, but green, no. one was only 3! one was 2 weeks off the track!

i have to walk a careful line if i'm gonna lease. the horse has to give me a lot if i'm paying someone for it. i don't mind tackling a challenge where a horse has certain issues but i must get enjoyment out of it a large percentage of the time or else i'm just paying to fix someone else's problem. of course i am gaining experience, but often at bodily risk.

i still can't believe that price. the leases i've seen here are usually 80-100 euros per month and they expect you to ride 2 or 3 times a week and help out with barnwork and even sometimes take lessons.

i hope you find a solution. although you and i are not horse trainers, the fact is horses are being trained everytime a person works with them.

Anonymous said...

Well, at any rate it's a learning lesson. The idea of working with a horse that hasn't been trained does have some sort of appeal to it. I can only imagine how hard it is to make your decision.
I am no trainer, either. I'd feel uncomfortable working around/with a horse that wasn't fully trained. I'd be more afraid of screwing up the horse! If you do leave, its understandable.

Rosanne said...

Sorry you had such a rough time with Pstar. How old is she? She sounds like she REALLY needs tons of ground work/manners. A horse that does not respect your space can be dangerous to work with. Would it be possible to talk to the owner about your concerns and possibly lease a different horse if this one is too much for you to handle right now? Don't be discouraged and give it another go-but I would only work with her if there is someone else on the property. Good luck!

Christie said...

Pstar is 4 going on 5. Not under saddle. The only horse under saddle of Lauries is Divine the lesson horse and since she is used so much for that I couldn't lease her. I'm just frustrated that things go well when Laurie is there to coach me with Pstar but once alone things just fall apart....bad combo of a green horse and green rider (I've only just gotten back into this riding thing over the past year even though I'd done the horse thing since I was 8)

I think I didn't spend enough time working with Pstar alone before signing on the dotted line for the lease. I feel terrible since I've been so back and forth with Pstar...and emotional to boot! She's a sweet mare, one of the sweetest I've met but that's usually when she is with her friends in the paddock. Things change when I work her and I don't feel I have the expertise or ability to work well with such a young untrained horse to get over these hurtles. I'm better off with a horse that has at least a couple years of being under saddle.

I need to figure out how to discuss this with Laurie and cross my fingers that she understands and this doesn't damage the friendship we've developed. Again I shouldn't do something where I feel unsafe or scared and I definitely have felt both of those emotions the past couple times I've been with Pstar alone. Perhaps I can just take a few extra lessons with her and forego leasing her until she gets more training? Thanks all for the words of encouragement!

lytha said...

i did the same as you. i leased a crazy TB for 6 months and she was really dangerous - people kept ending up in the hospital around her. i knew i was next. i rode her 3 times per week and was making no progress with her dangerous barnsour behavior, and i couldn't seem to teach her that going out on the trail was fun.

the only way i could convince her owner to let me drop the lease (she needed my money) was to say "i'm afraid i'm gonna get hurt." there isn't much you can do to argue that. ok, she tried - she said i should just ride in the arena but that wouldn't be fun for me. repeating "i'm AFRAID" finally worked.