5.26.2013

revealing trouble

Koda's tune-up training is revealing some troubling things. While he looks amazing, and when he's good - he is really good - his shying/defiant behavior keeps popping up. What the heck is going on with my boy?

Last week we rode in the outdoor, it was gorgeous. Our trainer was working with a couple other horse & riders, so we headed to the far end to do a mounted warm up. Before we did, she mentioned spending time having other horses ride at, approach & move around Koda, as a result of his previous episode.

We progressed warming up slowly, eventually loping. He listened well to my legs, and was noticeably smoother. I worked on feeling/getting the correct lead, and learned he no longer needs inside rein support. With that clarified, our lope offs are going better. I noticed Koda got a little too antsy when going anywhere near the other horses, and asked our trainer how things were going. She shared that earlier in the week while riding Koda (at the time just walking around) a big hunter was across the arena working on transitions and Koda completely fell apart. Great. I asked what her plan of action was, basically more of the above.

This week gave us a rainy day ride, in the indoor. It was just Brad & I at the barn, attention was focused on us. Our trainer shared right away how concerned she is with Koda's behavior "it's as if he is looking for things, and using them as an excuse, to get unreasonably big". I asked if perhaps something might be hurting and therefore causing him to act out, but because it's random she feels it's behavioral. I agree, just searching (or maybe that's hoping?) for reasons that might lead to a fix.

Maybe Koda is a horse that just can't have the winter off? The response I got was, he's a broke horse now and doesn't get to act like this. Agreed. While they all need refreshing, flipping out is different. All I know is he has one bad case of spring fever (or something) and I don't want to end up on the ground for the third year in a row. I'm too damn old. It not only shatters my body, it crumbles my confidence.

I've seen hints of this behavior in common scenarios all along, attributing it to my not being a super confident rider (ex. not crossing water). Of course I always wonder if Koda's bad behavior is somehow my fault. Our trainer tells me when things are, she can be brutally honest, and said this isn't. However, I doubt I am likely helping the situation. For example, I got scolded for letting Koda wrap his head around and poke towards me while saddling. Not necessarily when cinching, just messing with me. She didn't like my answer of "he always does that, but never bites. I guarantee if he ever does bite me, he'll never do it again". Oh well. I heard her point loud and clear. 

I don't wish bad behavior on anyone, but it is somewhat of a relief that this is not just happening to me. Apparently earlier in the day Koda blew up again, using the hard rain (no thunder) as an excuse, and all but tried to buck her off. Not a good way to start my ride. It was still raining hard. I'm kinda feeling bad for my boy, and don't understand his choices. Why is he choosing bad behavior? He knows it gets him in trouble and makes more work for himself.

Koda continues making bad choices. It's my frustration with him. The problem is, apparently it's heightened, and even more difficult to pull him out of it and get his mind back. He doesn't listen or pay attention to his surroundings. I know our trainer well enough to know that not much concerns her, with all her experience most anything horse is fixable. However she is very concerned, which really makes me worried. She is a seasoned trainer, and truly among the best. She has trained Koda since he was 3. He is 6 now. We know his past. Unfortunately, I think this is all part of his "playful/stubborn" personality...

We all headed out to the arena. Brad did a quick warm up lunge with Nemo, I opted not to. Nemo has been golden during training & rides, there isn't much else to say. The high strung sensitive baby turned out to be the solid horse, and the easy going laid back baby turned out to be the unpredictable horse. Sigh.

Our trainer insisted on riding Koda first, she quickly did and handed him over. I started strong, but half way through I couldn't shut my doubt off. Being under a microscope didn't help. I could tell Koda was over sensitive. We both felt the trainer's "wheels turning" as she watched us, rarely taking her eyes off. He was a good boy, and altho nervous, he did everything I asked. The plan moving forward is to "squash" any, and every, little tiny thing he does wrong. If Koda's behavior doesn't improve, I can guess what she is going to say...

My hubby thinks it's no big deal. Our trainer repeatedly and intently said "it IS a big deal". I think Brad would feel differently if he was on Koda when he acts out, it's a helpless feeling to have your guidance (and safety) completely ignored. We have an overnight trail trip coming up in the near future, unless we manage to head out somewhere near home, it will be our first trail ride of the year. I was told more then once to "get off" right away if Koda goes to that defiant place. Easy to say, not so easy to do when it happens so fast. Freakin' awesome. Now what??

3 yrs old, 2010
 

12 comments:

fernvalley01 said...

Sounds to me like you are on a big thinker. Appys are often that, and its not always bad thing but it does come with a few, side effects. I am wondering if having him to obstacles and rails in the arena will keep his focus better? alos when he does do silly spooky stuff, take his back end away (tight circle , one rein stop) I am sure your trainer is good and has tools to help her stick him with these stunts but maybe it would build some confidence for you to try a few things like this? Just suggestions, I am not t here so I dont know your skills or his

allhorsestuff said...

Oh,I Am Sorry To read Your Delima With Koda. Since Nothing Has Happened To Him, I'd Question Saddle Fit. But I'm Sure Your Trainer Has Done That.

I Have One That Can't Be In The Arena With Others Well, Always Looks For An Excuse To Act Out.
I've Tried So Many Things....Pain
Resolve, And All The Rest. I'm Just
NOT INTO struggles That Are
Dangerous For Me. She's So Great On The Trails, I'll Have To Wait For A Different Mount, To Do Dressage Inside With.

Gosh...Don't Know What To Say. Could It Be, He Prefers Out Doors?

aurora said...

Thanks for the insight Sherry. You are right, Koda is a thinker - but in a "class clown" kinda way. He does do better when he is busy. The new horse shying thing is at everyone but Nemo, even Cierra. Including low pressure situations. It's ridiculous, and hard to figure out what got into his silly head.

aurora said...

I also am not into struggles. Saddle fit has been the culprit, in the past...might be time to reevaluate that & more. It just seems so behavioral this time. He has been fine in both indoor & outdoor arena's off/on for the past three years, it's so unexpected. I do hope to find some type of resolution eventually. Thank you. Hope all is well with you & Wa.

Shirley said...

My Gussie mare is an emotional girl, and every once in a while she gets that up-headed, tight, big presence that is the precursor to her doing some stuff that I can't ride anymore; neck snaking, sideways bouncy stuff. I have learned the preliminary signals, and if I can't resolve it within a few seconds, I step off until she gets over it. So I know how Koda feels when he does that.
If you are going to continue your journey with him, you need to decide if you are quick enough to dismount when you feel this start, or if it comes out of the blue with no warning, can you handle it? I know you love your horse, but your safety is more important than any horse, and your trainer sounds like she is concerned.
With Gussie, I know what her triggers are, so I can deal with it. If you know what triggers this behavior in Koda, an option is to avoid those things, or not be mounted when you know he's going to blow.
I hope you can get it sorted out.

aurora said...

Sounds like you know "that feeling" well Shirley. Curious if you get after Gussie after dismounting, or just wait it out? At this point I/we are hoping Koda's behavior can be corrected. If anyone can do it (the right way) our trainer can. His horse shying at least needs to be diminished, inorder to be safe on public trails. Looks like we'll get another stormy ride in, we've got rain & storms forecasted all week. Hoping for a more positive update. It's so great to hear from you!

Karen Burch said...

Maybe Koda doesn't like your trainer. And honestly, it doesn't sound like the trainer's techniques are working. Maybe you should look elsewhere for help. Sometimes a new perspective is more effective than continueing down the same path you have been on for three years.

aurora said...

I appreciate your honesty Karen. A similar thought has crossed my mind. Not so much that he doesn't like her, but that he may respond better to a different way.

greymare said...

Hi Aurora, First time to your blog. Found you from your post on mine. I too have a situation like yours. My mare is "Broke" but after our bad accident, I was laid up for a year and my confidence hit bottom. She isn't mean, she just finds things to spook at. One day it's good and the next day that same thing is the "Boogy Man" I have decided that I am too old and my body is in agreement that I don't want the anxiety/nervousness with her. She senses it too so we've decided that she can becomes a brood mare and hopefully produce for me my next great companion. I had two previous to her that were to me the best companions ever. Good luck with Koda. I will keep up with both of your progress. Nice meeting you.

aurora said...

Welcome Greymare! I look forward to getting to know you & yours better. Glad to hear you've recovered, and understand your decision. I truly hope you find your next great companion!

We will see where my journey with Koda takes me...things were better this week. Post to come. In fairness to our trainer, she works on issues as they surface. Realistically I need to remain aware, but am still hopeful Koda & I can work through/with this.

Rising Rainbow said...

If something rattled his confidence punishing him for his behavior will not fix the problem, it will make it worse. Just saying. Like Sherry, I'm not there and can only go off what you say but from what I've read it sounds like confidence to me.

aurora said...

Hi Rising, I agree punishing a horse for being scared doesn't solve much of anything. Unless something transferred over from the pasture? Nothing has happened to Koda in an arena/around other horses. He has only ridden with me for the past year, and before that only me/trainer (who would know & say if anything happened) ever. We have owned Koda since he was a yearling, and know his breeder. Thanks for posting. It's making me think about a similar topic...