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


Sunday Stills ~ The Letter W

I made a photo challenge, finally! I have a lot of W's in my life, it was hard to chose. I decided to shoot the less obvious, hope you enjoy these shots from this weekend:

Wine & Wild Horses

Equine readers might find this interesting, it's from the back of the 14 Hands Wine, all with a Wild Horse label (they make different varieties): 

"14 Hands celebrates the spirit of the wild horses that roamed the Columbia River Valley. Fourteen Hands in height, these tough little horses were revered around the world for their strength. The terrain that once gave them endurance and spirit now feeds our vines. Our 14 Hands wines share the soul and intensity of this unbridled freedom." 

Water & Wet Puppy

My daughter's puppy wonders about the water in our pond, and always ends up wet! Below is his favorite outdoor place, the weed patch we let grow on our hill side until the crocus greens dry up. He rarely stays still, and being black makes him extra hard to capture!


Wander over & see other Letter W choices


simple pleasures

Without any horses at home I haven't had much of anything equine to blog about, until Mother's Day.  We pulled into our trainers driveway and instantly saw all three of our horses turned out together! What is that green stuff they were eating? Oh yeah, it's grass!!

Koda, Nemo & Cierra
...Cierra & Koda raced to greet us, arriving together, same as at home. Koda checked us out for treats, and promptly went off to graze & visit with his friend Rasta...

Rasta & Koda
...not Cierra, she came for hugs and stuck close by the entire time...

Cierra hug
...Nemo had other things on his mind, like soaking up his turn-out time...

...we instantly noticed how much happier Cierra was with Koda & Nemo around. She got a good scratch, and the hair was a flyin'...

...Cierra didn't really want to share her humans, but she did...

Koda gets a good scratch too, Cierra wants another turn

...or at least she tried to. My favorite picture of the visit...

Cierra & Brad, looking
...Nemo was in no hurry, but he had a lot to say. Always the thinker...

Nemo, watching
...it was SO good to see our horses, it made my day. We didn't ride. Didn't need to. Seeing our horses so calm, grazing - on grass - reminded me of life's simple pleasures. That's enough for me.