Friday, January 27, 2017

sympathy for the devil

It's really easy to get wrapped up in all the wonderful things my new pony is doing, and how happy he makes me, to the point where everything can easily sound like kittens and rainbows and glittery unicorn poop.

My intention isn't to mislead... rather, I just prefer to dwell on the fun happy exciting stuff rather than the "Dear god what have I done?!" stuff. You know how it goes.

it was so freakin nice out i hustled up on some work to get to the barn early - to ride outside in DAYLIGHT
Charlie has been a very easy horse in many many ways. For that, I am grateful. Really, there's only one main aspect to him that seriously challenges my plans for the big guy. And it's that same quality we identified in our first weeks together:

Charlie is defensive and resistant to being driven forward.

we hacked around a couple new lanes too. charlie lives in the field to the right so it's not like, unknown territory. still nice to ride on tho! except for some weird trench right down the center of the lane filled with holes. lame.
I'm very fortunate in how Charlie became mine - his former trainer and partnership of owners from the track had him for many years, understand his history, and love him dearly. And they've been very communicative with me. As such, I'm privy to a surprisingly complete version of Charlie's history. Including the full story on how this resistance likely developed. And hint: it isn't saddle fit and it isn't ulcers.

A brief background: Charlie was born in April 2009 in Kentucky. His dam, Shahalo (by Halo) had produced top of the line kind of race horses, including some graded stakes winners, and Charlie sold at auction as a yearling for $100K.

the end of the lane has fun little cross rail fence stiles too! we just walked back and forth over this low part lol
He traveled extensively with his first trainers - racing once at Keeneland then shipping up to Chicago for the wintertime. Then back down to Louisiana Fair Grounds as a 3yo. His second, later trainer (let's call her CR. she has been incredibly candid in conversations!!) believes all this travel, these long hauls in shipping vans, tied up for hours, contributed to the paralysis of one of the cartilage flaps in Charlie's airway that would go undiscovered for some time.

While at Fair Grounds as a 3yo with his first trainers, Charlie raced twice - once for a $50K claiming price in a race where he was the favorite. He was in the lead coming to the home stretch, but suddenly backed off to lose by 30 lengths.

lotsa wanderin around the property!
In watching the tape, CR immediately recognized the problem: Charlie couldn't breathe.

This hypothesis was further supported after CR and a partnership of owners (who have also been wonderful to speak with!) claimed Charlie from Fair Grounds sight unseen, on the strength of his racing form and pedigree. The first time they got him up to the track to train, Charlie simply refused to go. Stuck his head straight up in the air and said "NO!"

interrupting my photo recap of our hack-about with breaking news: we've definitely seen that "NO!" face before!!
So they took him back to the barn, got him scoped, and ultimately performed a tie back surgery on him (during which time they also removed part of his larynx and did a trachea wash, as apparently he'd gotten a ton of junk down into his lungs from fighting to breathe for so long).

CR believes Charlie likely experienced collapsed lungs and/or bleeds while training and racing. To him, this would have felt like he was suffocating. And it had maybe been going on for a while. His first trainers weren't necessarily negligent - they had very expensive veterinary workups done at Purdue University and again in Kentucky, but with no findings. CR thinks they must not have scoped him.

After recovering from surgery, Charlie's new team took their time bringing him back slowly and helping him build confidence in his breathing again. And he went on to race successfully with them for four years.

the into the outdoor arena for the first time in AGES.... where charlie was decidedly less than thrilled to find himself. c'mon bro, surely this must be better than the narrow indoor??
So.... That's a long and slightly melodramatic peek into Charlie's early days as a race horse. Homeboy has... not always had it very easy. He is resistant for very real reasons.

His successful career with CR and crew suggests this resistance isn't insurmountable tho. Plus CR's philosophy of patience and slow, methodical confidence building aligns well with my own approach.

But it's a fairly entrenched behavior. Just plain getting after Charlie and beating on him isn't the answer, either. He's been there, done that, and is willing to go there again if he has to.

sad boy in his muscle shirt!!
The flip side, tho, is that Charlie is a very smart horse. He learns quickly through repetition. And he can learn the wrong things as easily as he learns the right things. Every time we hit that wall and I can't get us through it, he learns something. Maybe he's learning my number. Idk.

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill tho. It feels like the kind of behavior that could easily turn into "can't get the horse into the start box" or "eliminated for disobedience in the dressage ring." But it could also just be growing pains. Only time will tell!

one result from my chat with trainer P last weekend. she's always full of cost-saving tips, esp surrounding supplements. but she swears by this particularl supplement - platinum performance. some call it 'expensive flax' but idk. i'm gonna give it a shot on the strength of P's recommendation. will likely have more to say later!
Mostly, I just need to be more disciplined in my riding. As Janet Foy says: one aid, one answer. When I put my leg on, Charlie may not suck back. Not even a little bit. No settling or letting him get even a little behind the bridle or stuck shuffling. If I allow him that space, he will escalate to full on refusing to move.

If he learns that sometimes leg matters and sometimes it doesn't.... I'm just setting myself up for a bigger fight down the road.

So. My pep talk to myself: Discipline, Emma. Consistency. Say what you mean, mean what you say... all that stuff. Do not shy away from correcting the small stuff. A well-timed, appropriately-volumed correction for a smaller indiscretion will likely be enough to prevent a full blown fight. But, no matter what, be prepared to see the conversation through to resolution: GO FORWARD.

i'm also introducing a third meal to charlie's diet - a post ride mash of beet pulp pellets. so far he's a fan!! now if he would just get fat plz!!
And, of course, in the meantime, I'm continuing to work through my "List Of Things I Want To Do For Charlie" to ensure he's physically set up for success too. We'll see how it goes!

Have you ever let a horse get your number and then had to deal with the repercussions? Or do you have little pep talks with yourself when you know something is going to be a fight but you have to deal with it anyway?

Or have you ever learned something about your horse's past that suddenly explains a perplexing behavior or persistent habit? I'm kinda hoping I'm not the only one haha!

62 comments:

  1. I don't have a lot of "past" for the horse given that I got him as a relatively unhandled two year old and have done all the work myself. However, I've also gotten enlightened more times than I'd like on things I wish I'd figured out faster. Ideally, I'd be more on-the-ball and "get" it quicker, but apparently it takes me like four tries to pick up a right lead canter on a slight slope with the horse saying "Uh, no" and "Nope" and "No can do, lady" and "I said NO, damn it!" before I'm like... okay, so right lead canter means step in deep with the left hind to strike off... given the way the ground slopes here (it was not a very big slope, I'd call it "levelish" but anyway) he's probably having trouble with the leverage/strength to step up into canter. Let's try it the other way and see how that works. Horse stepped off immediately. Owner felt terribly stupid.

    Or, y'know, put horse in full cheek snaffle, touch reins not particularly violently, horse flings head up and nearly breaks rider's nose. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. What the shit? Owner looks at dainty nose of horse and thinks a bit, buys horse french link, horse stops flinging head in air when reins are touched, and we all move on with our lives. Why couldn't I have figured that one out before the head flinging? Ugh.

    For having a horse get my number -- my mare Nick for years could put me off at will (and did). It was mostly a negotiation with her, a "pick only fights you can win" thing tempered by the fact that she was whip smart, very hardworking (the putting-me-off was not lazy, it was I Have Had Enough Of You Today frustration), and willing to meet me halfway. If I got out of line, boom, I was in the dirt. She still (at 19) objects to being ridden on the shoulder of the road so I ... don't ride her on the shoulder of the road. Having fights in vehicular traffic is not my idea of a good time. Sometimes I feel like a failure for not having won that one, but honestly, I don't want either of us dead because she was throwing a fit about a pickup truck hauling some ATVs.

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    1. "I've also gotten enlightened more times than I'd like on things I wish I'd figured out faster." --> YUP. sometimes i drive myself crazy with how dense i can be haha. i think that's horses tho. we get experience, we do stuff, we start to think that maybe we're pretty good at this. and this horse just isn't listening, bad horsey! but then... turns out that *i'm* the one not listening. go figure. maybe one day i'll have it all figured out haha. and also: agreed on picking the fights you can win. for me, i just need to have a little more faith that i *can* get charlie through this!

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    2. You guys are doing great! There's lots of progress already and riding out in the world and going places on the trailer and all kinds of stuff. (I wish I were as confident a trailer driver as you are, but it's still kind of white-knuckle for me over here.)

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    3. ha white-knuckle syndrome is REAL i promise! i'm ticking up on close to 10,000 miles hauling tho - it seems like for all things ancillary to horses, nothing beats getting out there and just laying down miles lol

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  2. I love your blog. I really enjoy your updates as I have just begun a new relationship with a new horse, who needs lots of physical and mental rehab.
    So I relate a lot of what your are facing..
    At the end of the day, the answer lies with you regarding Charlie not being forward. Will you win the mental battle?
    Charlie is also still recovering from his former racelife. He is still underweight and his feet are on their way to mend. So he might be a bit uncomfortable, not sore, but not 100% enough, and that is enough to stop him to be forward ... he is a male after all.
    Regarding the surgery, I know of hunter who had it, and he is one the most forward horse, I have ever ridden, however when he is not fit, he coughts and coughts mucus. It is not nice. His owners swears she wil never have this type of surgery done on any of her horses ever again.

    I am not you, I do not know Charlie personnally. But I will give a chance to your new couple until the end of summer. If you are not happy by october. Then perhaps you ought to look for another job for Charlie.

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    1. So sorry,
      Re-reading your post.
      I lost that battle with my big WB mare.
      I won that battle with QH mare by working with her outside, she was very arena sour.
      The horse that I have now, was a slug, until he got fitter and his feet got sorted, he is becoming a VERY forward horse.

      Good luck with Charlie

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    2. thanks for reading and commenting, Muriel! and agreed that it's all about the mental aspect. glad you got things figured out with your horse now!

      they're all so individual. with charlie, he has been wonderful to work with and makes me very happy. provided we can keep him healthy and enjoying the job i'm offering him, i expect to have him for a long time.

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  3. So my answer to all your questions is 'yes'. :)

    You probably know a lot about me and Carmen by now. Balking and sucking back was one of her things (it was either bolting or balking way to work the pendulum mare).

    The balking was two things I think - it worsens when her saddle is tight but also when she just doesn't want to. What I know of her history makes me think that she was punished by a heavy hand.

    Anyway- here is what I have found works for her: I ask her to go and if she resists I ask again. As soon as she goes forward a few strides I let her come back to walk. We repeat this a few times on a circle and the resistance disappears. She's looking for the fight and I'm not giving it to her. If she gets really and truly resistant I do give her a tap with the whip but I don't go there right away.

    My theory for why this works is that she's figuring out that forward is truly what I want. Because she's a very sensitive horse it may be that early in her training she leapt forward when asked and then was punished by being grabbed in the mouth.

    Given how lovely Charile is to take places I would normally say that galloping across a field (or beach) might be fun and help him find that gear. The other thing is that he might not have the balance to carry the forward and it makes him back off- as he builds strength it will come.

    I have total faith that your work will pay off although it will probably always be his 'thing'.

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    1. it's honestly been pretty great to see how Carmen has developed and transformed over the past few months. whatever you're doing is working! and agreed on the method of asking to go, then immediately taking the pressure off when the correct answer is given. for charlie, that doesn't even necessarily have to be an upward transition. even a little squirt forward gets lots of praise.

      right now he's getting too caught up in trying to stay ahead of me, trying to anticipate what i might be asking him. he knows i'm gonna ask for canter eventually and he puffs himself up to fight about it. but really, i just want him to trot. the *moment* he pauses from trying to turn around and bite me out of the saddle while trantering and propping, and takes a nice forward trot step is the moment he gets all the praise for doing the thing. so suddenly he realizes that, 'oh she just wants me to trot on. ok' and then suddenly he gets himself into a lovelier balanced trot.... from which he can step into a canter like butter. funny funny horses haha.

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  4. Well I hope handsome Charlie doesn't end up with anything else in common with my special needs horse but my story on tie back surgery.

    So Stampede was purchased as a 2 year old as an investment by his previous owners. They tried to hurry him along but he was resistant to go forward. Eventually they found he was having trouble breathing (and embarrassing them at horse shows, lol) and threw him out in a pasture. When I met Stampede it was out of said pasture. My first month or so of rides he was forward and easy, but since he was out of shape and still green we weren't doing much. It was as things starting to amp up later on that resistance began to occur. Honestly there wasn't much noise from him while working that I could tell he was having an issue but evidently the flap would swell from moving around while working then block his airway.
    I made a deal to have the tie back surgery done and if it was successful I would buy him and pay for a portion of the surgery. So I took care of him after surgery and when I got back on he was a different horse immediately. He knew he could breath and he was willing once more. The resistance didn't come back until years later when he started having his back issues that took forever to figure out and become kissing spines secondary to facet joint arthritis.

    Lastly, Stampede was on platinum performance a while back after getting very sick (cellulitis & ulcers - you know how he does it!) and losing a ton of weight. I do believe it really helped him but long term he started refusing to eat it. My vet had recommended it and said it's commonly used on rescue horses.

    Nothing like a horse to keep us crazy trying to figure out what's bothering them versus what's training!

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    1. i'm always so relieved to hear about successes like Stampede's. even if he ended up having more physical issues down the road, it's fantastic that you were able to discover the source of his resistance and correct it before it became a big problem for him.

      also that's good to know about the platinum performance too. so far charlie has been fine with hoovering up whatever gets put in front of him so hopefully the stuff remains palatable. or, at least hopefully he gains some weight before deciding not to eat it haha!

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  5. I've made so many mistakes and have had to deal with the fallout from them. It's bound to happen and I've learned that the best thing to do is move on from them and try not to repeat. Stinker is very good at getting my number and I have to work very hard to keep some disconnect so I don't take things personally. I'm sure you and Charlie will have some hiccups along the way but it just takes time to build the partnership.

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    1. ugh yes everything you say is true lol. it is definitely bound to happen! the cool thing with charlie so far is that it is NOT personal. which is kinda crazy to me, considering how emotionally invested i already am in him, and considering how very deeply personal things could feel with isabel. i'm not sure what the difference is - but so far i've been able to stay focused and calm and thoughtful (and patient!) even while growling and kicking and redirecting haha. here's hoping that lasts bc temper has NEVER been my strength....

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  6. As you had mentioned in your comment on my blog and also as I've heard from my trainer, mares who are OTTB tend to kick, particularly when their rider is getting a leg up. That's the best explanation for that that I can find. Patience right? I wish I had it in spades. Let me know how all the fattening is going (or isn't going). I'm sure I'll need those tips as well

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    1. ugh patience. why is it so hard?!? i keep telling myself that we never remember how long it took to work through an issue once we're on the other side of it ;)

      and yes i will definitely have more to write about charlie's diet and nutritional changes etc as time goes on!

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  7. Lot of really interesting stuff in one post (you're very good at that!). I don't have any particular insight, although it sounds like you've surrounded yourself with a good team and you and Charlie on on the right path.

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    1. thank you - that's my hope! we are all very much on Team Charlie over here!!

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  8. I used that platinum stuff on a former lease horse i had and it definitely helped and i think it is one of the better supps out there. W my wash and wear horse now i just use basic smartpaks but for more specialized stuff i think Platinum is top notch. Can't wait to hear how it goes (and how fascinating both sets of owners took such effort with Charlie he truly is special)!

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    1. glad to hear that about the platinum! i'm hopeful about it, and don't mind paying a little extra to start out.

      and yea, charlie really is a very special horse. he is just so damn easy to love. i've really enjoyed sharing stories with his former owners - and they all seem to think that he's more than equal for the job i'd like him to do.

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  9. Fiction also had collapsed lungs and bled a lot while racing, so he had tieback surgery done. I don't think it effected him going forward, though. That was a result of people beating on him and hauling on his mouth. I found the one exercise that really broke the mold and taught him to move forward was lunging in side reins. And I'm not talking basic lunging. I'm talking lunging him in a very very extended trot - the best he is able to give me without me prompting him on his back. This was something a dressage clinician taught me and it is a great tool. This made a world of difference under saddle, to the point that I no longer even touch the lunge line because I just don't need it. Becoming more confident in myself and not riding defensively has also helped :)

    I'm glad you've sort of discovered Charlie's mental baggage. Sometimes it sucks getting a horse that you didn't get to raise the way you want, but at the same time you're so lucky to know his complete history!

    I used to have Fiction on platinum. I like it, but I did a lot of ingredient comparison and it seriously just isn't worth the price compared to other supplements. It doesn't offer nearly as much as other supplements do. Still, it did help Fiction put on weight and build muscle when I first got him, so hopefully it will help Charlie too.

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    1. seeing the difference in your partnership with Fiction over the past few months has been fantastic - he's really doing very well with your approach! and agreed that i feel very lucky to know as much about charlie as i do!

      and i'm optimistic about the supplements. the trainer who recommended it had some fairly compelling stories (for both horses AND humans) and is usually quick to say when there's a more cost effective way to get the same results. so i'm gonna roll with it, as she's proved time and again to have great insights into how i can help my horses thrive.

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  10. My guy was very resistant to forward when I got him as well. He didn't have a medical reason as a background, he's just lazy. But from the beginning i didn't push him as hard as i should have, and he got my number very quickly. We haven't been able to work through it and my trainer deemed us toxic together. So all i can say is never let Charlie win, or you'll be in for a world of heartbreak :(

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    1. thank you, Susan - i am absolutely taking this to heart. it doesn't feel like charlie and i are at a critical juncture, but i've seen it happen before and it ain't pretty.

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  11. "I just prefer to dwell on the fun happy exciting stuff rather than the "Dear god what have I done?!" stuff." Yes, do you know how many times that rolled through my head when Penn came home?

    Right now I'm learning to cope with Penn's bucking- I only say 'cope' because it has been a LONG time since I had a horse that would buck (and knock on wood, I'm overdue for a fall... I can't remember the last time I got dumped), so he gives me a little one and I immediately freak out and stop riding (making it worse). My home trainer is in Aiken. GP Trainer is in Ocala. I'm trying to buck up because well, I have to fix it, or at least try to address my issues that contribute to it (because come on, he really just acts out when he feels trapped). Riding through it the one day and paying extra attention to not trapping him with my arms helped it stop for the meantime (go figure).

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    1. ugh yea i hear you. so crappy that all the trainers are out of town too!!! basically your last sentence is kinda where my mind goes too: ride through it and see the conversation to resolution when the problems *do* arise, then be disciplined and conscientious as a rider to prevent the ride from derailing similarly again... hopefully it works for both our boys!

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  12. ugh i feel like you couldve been writing about runkle here. he didnt go through all the surgical nonsense charlie did, for sure, but he has the same weird concerns that he thinks he cant breathe.

    and he is going through a REAL BITCHY sucking behind the leg phase. and now that he's a pissy teenager its involving a lot of bucking. tart.

    consistency is key, and not settling. you deserve a nice brisk trot when you ask.

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    1. ooooh sassy Runkle! charlie doesn't buck much (sometimes he flings his head down but that's it - it's not very impressive lol), but he's got the sucking back thing on speed dial! agree completely with the last bit tho!! brisk trots are best trots!

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  13. Dwell on the happy! You deserve it after all you went through with Isabel plus that's why we have horses. To be happy.

    The entire first year I had Gem was basically installing behaviors I would later have to undo. I sorta feel bad for her. My next horse will have it so much easier for all I learned from Gem

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    1. ha thanks - i'm definitely dwelling on happy and it all feels pretty great. nothing about this post changes the fact that i'm basically crazy about this horse. we are having a LOT of fun together, and i'm learning a lot in the process. i've got goals tho and i'm trying not to let them out of my sight! i'm just trying to avoid installing anything that i *can't* undo later!!

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  14. Wowza, Charlie has been through a lot! As for my girls' past, Savvy's first three years of life were definitely not traumatic but set up bad behavior for wanting to bite people. She lived virtually untouched in a field with bisons and the only human interaction was through a fence being fed treats by the owner's grandchildren (they never even had done her feet!). So she strongly associates hands with treats and is constantly an ass about it. I could have just banned treats for her, but instead I decided to use her strong treat drive for good instead of evil and reward her in training with a treat. It has worked really well so far--she tries SO hard for carrots!

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    1. ha awww Savvy - the carrot on a stick never worked so well!! it's so funny how they all develop so uniquely from such different backgrounds. like, plenty of horses have had it harder than charlie and you'd never know. then again in some ways - a sheltered and unhandled early life can be just as difficult for a horse to overcome and adjust after.

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  15. It's so cool that you have that window into Charlie's past. It can definitely color how you see the issues and how you treat them. You've got this. :-)

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    1. i'm super grateful to be able to learn so much about his time as a race horse!!! of course what i REALLY want are pictures lol - maybe one day ;) and thanks, i'm pretty optimistic in bringing charlie along. just one step at a time!

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  16. His breathing issue sounds very similar to that of one of Buck Davidson's rides, Ballynoe Castle RM. He also had corrective surgery, not sure what exactly, but if he was on cross-country and couldn't breathe he would do the same - throw his head up in the air and clearly be resistant to moving forward. But he still had multiple 4* top finishes and is the highest scoring US event horse ever :) As far as forging forward (haha..) I think the fact that you've recognized what you need to work on is the biggest hurdle. I have no good advice except that you seem to be on the right track! In my experience being diligent about the small issues will start to add up!

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    1. ha if charlie lives up to being even half the horse reggie is, i will be one happy camper!! also i like your 'forging forward' puns bc charlie also happens to forge like a maniac (another WIP lol). thanks - we're just gonna keep chippin away and see how it all unfolds!

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  17. I had to laugh out loud at Charlie's "NO!!!" face.. Dino has the same one! For him, the sucking back and refusing to move was due in part to him being totally unhappy and brain fried from years as a kid's show pony and then being in a lesson program, but he also had a lot of undiagnosed metabolic issues that caused a lot of muscle tightness and pain. But, regardless of the cause, "NO!!!" has been/is his go-to response to anything that he doesn't think is fun. And he uses it. Liberally. The trap that I fell into with him was getting too exhausted to fight him to the death over forward, and letting things slide. I got into the habit of nagging him without getting a response, or avoiding things that I knew would set him off. What actually HELPED was getting him out of the arena and doing things he thought were 'fun' to set us up for forward-moving success, changing the subject when he threw a tantrum (don't want to canter? okay fine we'll do transitions/lateral work/circles instead until your attitude is better!), and working hard to make my leg really mean something to him. He's gotten LOTS better over the years, but the "NO!!" is still in there!

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    1. ha yup i know this face of Dino's of which you speak! charlie's definitely considering turning to this behavior in instances where maybe he just dont wanna, even if there's nothing physically wrong. that's not a habit that i want! we'll see how it goes i guess haha

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  18. You're fortunate to have so much history and he is so lucky to have had such a great support team his entire racing career! Sounds like you are totally on the right track with him. Trust is so important! I always feel like it takes a solid year before it clicks with horse and rider, so taking it slow is so important!

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    1. thanks - i feel SUPER lucky to know as much as i do about him. it's a double-edged sword bc it can sometimes mean i'm too soft on certain behaviors bc i feel bad about his history... but it also means that i don't take too heavy of a hand to him and unintentionally make some of these problems even worse. we've got all the time in the world to figure itout tho!

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  19. That is so fortunate you have all those people's brains to pick for history and questions/answers etc

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  20. My vet recommended Platinum Performance to put weight on Candy. (She also said "or you could top dress with oil"...guess which route I'm taking because I am cheap af.) I hope it helps Sir Charles! :)

    I wish I knew what made Gina so freaked out about poles/stadium jumps. I can only assume she got sick of being ridden by people who were learning on her at one of the h/j barns she belonged to. I doubt she was abused or anything, I think it's more that some horses have the temperament to teach, others do not.

    Hopefully Charlie will get past his resistance to go forward once he learns that he'll be happy and comfortable in this work, just as he was with racing!

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    1. ha yea i've gotten a couple recommendations for oil too. my purposes with the platinum are not strictly related to weight gain tho so we shall see! and yea it would be super curious to see where/when/how Gina started having the issues with stadium jumps. you're probably not far off the mark in your guess tho!

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  21. Um, yes, Hi, my name is Carey and my horse has my number.

    Cosmo also has issues going forward, as you know. Most of it is that he is a wise old man and will only do the minimum amount of work needed unless you really mean it. And the larger part is that he was off a couple years ago - ouchy on his RF from deep thrush- and he would resists forward and when I disciplined him (didn't realize what was going on yet) he'd get mad and kick out. Cuz it hurt. So once I figured out that was the issue, we got him feeling better, but as he was recovering he'd be the kind of ouchy that is more of a "reflex or in your head and just needs to worked through to prove that dude, you're fine" kind of hurt. But he knew that kicking out backed me off. At first because I thought he was telling me he was hurting and then it became a good way to for him to pretend to be hurting and get out of work. Which lead to an attitude problem and him TOTALLY having my number.

    It took my trainer getting after ME to get after HIM because he is clearly very sound and fit and this is a disobedience. We battled it out a few times with smack-kick out-smack-hop and kick out-smack -go forward. He still tests me sometimes but it usually over after the first smack-kick out-smack. And he's better for other people. He still tries to take advantage, but he really has just got MY number.

    Good news is that I've got his number now, too and don't take his crap. More good news is that with all the weather and time spent in his pen he's WILD when he does get out. Wild for Cosmo is forward with some scoots and sideways spooking. But he's forward. We will revisit resistance in the summer I am sure.

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    1. ha yea i'm definitely hoping that, if i can stick to my guns, we'll get the same kinda outcome. bc i suspect charlie's gone the same route as cosmo. the behavior started for valid reasons, but has continued for.... maybe less valid reasons haha.

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  22. Super interesting! Whinney definitely has my number... It's a big mind game to not get frustrated & over-ride that horse.

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    1. such a mind game for sure! at least recognizing that helps make it easier!

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  23. So excited to see you trying Platinum! My horses (and dogs!) have been on it for 12+ years and we SWEAR by it. My mares' coats and tails were always in the most amazing shape, no matter how much or little attention was paid and I credit it to PP. Lucy will actually eat it straight (which is how she gets it.. 'cause she's FAT). When I was showing, we had the entire barn on it. We found them years ago at the AAEP convention and have become good friends with the company professionally. I 150% believe in their products and the company.

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    1. That's great to hear!! Charlie's only been on it for about a week so it's too early to tell anything, but it has been a pretty good week!!

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  24. I love that you have been able to learn so much about Charlie's history! I wanted to try Platinum but it's expensive etc etc and so I ended up going with straight flax and something called Sho Glo, which has a pretty comparable list of ingredients to PP.

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    1. I'm super grateful to know as much as I do about him - it really helps me understand how to pick my battles and communicate with him lol

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  25. What an interesting back story! I guess it kind of makes sense then. I'm in a similar boat with Henry preferred way of being (not forward! but he has no related history like Charlie). It's a big challenge for me because I've always ridden horses with "their own motor" where I am always half-halting and slowly them down, Henry is a whole new can of worms! Sounds like you two are on the right track :)

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    1. Ha yea I definitely struggle with serious push rides too. Luckily Charlie has plenty of motor, he just occasionally doesn't opt to use it!

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  26. Poor Charlie! What a terrible feeling--like you can't breathe properly. I get bugged when I have a cold and one nostril clogs up. I can't imagine being an athelete with no way of telling the coach, "Hey, I need more air." I am struck by how wonderful his connections were to take the time and figure all this out and do right by him. This is a wonderful insight into your horse. I wish I knew more about Knight's life at the track. Through a conversation with someone who is an LA native (I've only been here my adult life), she thinks there's a chance Knight's former owner is the same family who "owns" a modern art museum in downtown LA. I also found out last week that Knight's dam was sold to a racing farm in England and it's near where Downton Abbey was filmed. You are inspiring me to start asking more questions. Thank you!

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    1. Ooooh definitely ask more questions!!! You never know what you'll discover!!!! Sounds like Knight could have an interesting history too!

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  27. How cool on Charlie's history! And how freaking fortunate to be close to those who knew him for so long. That's a gift to have that knowledge.

    Knowing history of your animals makes everything more clear. Griffin has history only with me so his problems can be traced to my errors or laziness. Stan is much the same. Q...Q has history beyond me and some that is still a mystery. The cowboy fucked her up major tho and is the root of her distrust, kicking out with hind feet when getting farrier work, etc. He bullied and dominated her to submission.

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    1. Ugh yea that's hard to have to play clean up on someone else's mess. That's a little bit like what Charlie's recent owners and trainer had to do when they first got him too. Seems like Q has done pretty well tho since coming into your herd!!!

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  28. I'm in the process of writing a blog post (I know, I need to get caught up) about behaviors we learned about Nolan at the track that really helped me understand some of his behaviors! With Riley, he got my number about a thing or two and in the end we fought like an old married couple over them. I've decided this time around tot try to make sure that doesn't happen again, but you know, we'll see how that goes. Interesting about the tie back, it's possible he has some scar tissu from the condition going untreated/unnoticed for awhile, so it could still bother him from time to time. My trainer's advanced horse had a tie back around the time he was going intermediate... and if Charlie raced successfully afterward then you should be golden. It's so nice to have a connection to their past isn't it?

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    1. Ha yea I decided things wouldn't be the same with Charlie as they were with Izzy. Except... All his buttons and whatnot are totally different and I'm learning a whole new set of skills anyway, so who knows what I'm missing. Oh well. Horses haha.

      But yes please write more posts, I wanna follow your gorgeous boy!!!!

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  29. ps. I'm all about the beet pulp for weight on the OTTBs!

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  30. The paralysis of the cartilage in his airway, are you referring to the condition called roaring?
    I had a huge OTTB gelding for a while that I was rehabbing and he had roaring. Apparently it's from being so large. The neck is just too long for the nerve. But the surgery you explained fixes the issue nicely. :)

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    1. Yes it's sometimes called roaring, and it's very common in ottbs too. His former trainer believes the many hours on end tied head up in a shipping can contributed to the condition, especially as it had gone undiscovered for a while and was not found during what must have been extensive vetting ($100k yearling after all) and the following years of training and racing.

      Like you say tho. The surgery corrects the physical defect. It does not, however, correct Charlie's emotional association between working and feeling like he's suffocating. So there are now entrenched resistant behaviors and habits that I must work through.

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