ID MyHorse

When to Hold and When to Fold

My 7-year-old gelding, Finn, has been the topic of numerous blogs. In this post, I even declared that Finn’s objectionable behavior was improving! Perhaps my mindset was “fake it ’til you make it?” I have put two years of work into this horse. Sadly, last week while camping at 4-J Big Piney, I realized Finn doesn’t have the mind of a trail horse. In fact, I thought if I worked hard enough on trust and respect, we could overcome his abject fear of all things unknown. I no longer believe that to be true.

Although we have made strides in certain areas, his testing and tantruming behavior has worsened. The day we prepared to leave for camp, we loaded Finn into the front of my LQ trailer. I’m not sure if he objected to a different trailer or to hauling in general. Regardless, he pitched a fit right after I had him tied. I was in the trailer when this happened. My head ricocheted off of him and the stall divider more than once. Thankfully, I never lost consciousness.  Finn never did break the tie, and eventually, he stopped fighting.

We started our trip with a visit to the “Minute Clinic”. My neurological exam was fine. I was told I most certainly had a concussion. The doctor told Alan what to watch for if I developed a brain bleed. We headed for southeast Missouri.

Finn has successfully broken (at least twice) the aluminum trailer ties on the outside of my two-horse trailer. I guess they are designed to break, rather than have a horse destroy your trailer. Additionally, he’s managed to bust a snap or two. His approach is… “If I don’t want to do something, I’ll just exit stage left!” This is a really problematic attitude… It appears he doesn’t want to do much of anything.

We settled the horses in their stalls Friday night and had dinner. Saturday morning we headed out for a ride. It was a minor rodeo right after I mounted and before we headed out. Finn crossed the water and the mud without complaint. While he followed Kadeen in a fairly relaxed manner, he panicked if asked to lead. We rode several hours that first day, partially with the intent of wearing a certain squirrelly horse down.

Sunday morning started with discovering a 2-inch gash in Finn’s neck. I had ancient suture material in my bag, and some Acepromazine, so I did my best to close the wound. It wasn’t great… I don’t happily stitch horses, especially ones that just gave me a concussion.  We rode again that day, and if I made him lead, he’d abruptly whirl around and throw a fit. His horrid behavior was really wearing on both Alan and me.

Monday we went to Rolla and didn’t ride. Tuesday morning we prepared to tack up the horses. I had been tying Finn to a tree, thinking that it would be harder for him to break! Not a problem for Finn… He shot back and broke yet another lead rope. (It should be noted that he was wearing a “pull-back” halter at the time. It puts pressure on his poll when he pulls.) Finn’s behavior did not impress our camping neighbors. The feature photo shows a horse very proud of himself as he trots unrestricted around camp.

Getting out of Dodge after busting yet another lead rope…

Plan B involved putting a rope around his belly, between his front legs, and then through his halter. I tied him to the tree with that rope. As I was bridling him, he shot back. The halter was off his head and hanging off the rope, but the belly rope held. He pitched a major fit but didn’t get loose. I sacked him out big time after that, but he didn’t offer to pull that again. We finally headed out to ride. Once again, after following Kadeen for a while, I asked Finn to lead. This time his tantrum involved a “Hi Ho Silver!” routine and he reared up about 4 feet in the air.  Furthermore, Finn reared and backed up into thick forest and foliage along a narrow trail.

When we finally headed down the trail again, I announced to Alan that I was done with this horse. Simultaneously, he announced he was tired of worrying about my safety. We made the decision to find another horse for Alan, and I would resume riding my beloved Kadeen.

Alan and I have talked often about how, after we each filed for divorce, our exes’ behavior only solidified our decision! So it is with Finn. He has continued to behave in a totally unacceptable manner. The second day he was belly-tied to the tree, he pitched yet another tantrum. He threw himself on the ground. In spite of his best efforts, he was unable to get loose. We faced loading him into the trailer with great trepidation. He didn’t disappoint…

We ran the rope through the window and secured it outside the trailer. I was NOT going to go into the trailer with him. I told him to load. He responded by shooting backward. Again, he put himself on the ground. Again, he didn’t escape. He finally jumped in.

We arrived home Thursday night, having left a day early because of rain. Furthermore, I needed to haul him to my equine vet friend to have his wound redone. A clean incision would leave a minimal scar on a horse that was for sale… Because he was so resistant to tying, he found himself attached to the Patience Pole. Of course, the belly rope was in play. He was fed and watered at the Patience Pole. The next morning, we had to load him into the 2-horse trailer. Once again, he reared, backed up, and fought. Once again, he lost. He finally jumped in.

This week, I am taking him to a local Arabian trainer for at least a month of work. He’s for sale… hopefully the trainer can alter some of his belligerent behavior. While I have ridden him through many a fight, he has still managed to get away with too much. I have old bones. I am too old for this nonsense. He needs the consistency of a show ring. He needs a “handler”. His fear will not allow him to become a thinking member of a trail partnership.

We are now on the hunt for an Arabian or part Arabian trail buddy for Alan. We have some great prospects. Reach out to me if you have one for sale! And STAY SAFE!!!

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