Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Great White Whale

No, not Moby Dick. I'm talking about the other great white whale--Shooter!

working on his figure

Remember Shooter? I never really got into blogging much about him since I was super preoccupied with trying to get my horse sound, and then during that time I got on Shooter one morning and he was also off in in his LF. I jumped off of him, threw him at BM, and basically had a hysterical melt down because I could not fucking believe that I had just made a second horse lame in the same damn leg.

Those were trying times, let me tell you.

But BM came to the conclusion that his saddle fit was terrible, and when she consulted with his owner, J said that when his arthritis starts acting up it presents as a LF lameness.

So the big dude got some body work done and a few weeks off to let everything settle down before I brought him back out to try again.

such a hippo

The first day I tried to just climb back aboard him, but he was in full on tweaker mode and I ended up popping him on the longe instead. I've gotten in several rides on him since then, and BM and I are pulling back all the layers of what's going on with this horse's head and body.

Shooter is complicated. I don't feel he's particularly complicated to ride, but the little wheels in his little brain are on their own special track. He puts on quite a show when he wants you to think he's afraid of something, and he's so big that it borders on being dangerous. He's the type of horse that spooks into your arms, and he has no problem flailing directly into you.

Obviously then the first priority was to put some serious ground work on this dude. He absolutely had to learn that you do not ever, ever come into my personal space no matter what the circumstance is. I started off leading him everywhere with a chain and a whip. If he "spooked" (we'll get to that in a second), he got yelled at first. If that didn't work, he got the chain. If that didn't work, he got smacked in the shoulder with the whip to get him to move over.

We're to the point now where if it's super windy outside or there's something new along his route out to his paddock I'll take the whip with me, but otherwise he goes in a plain lead rope with a nice loop I can wiggle at him if he starts thinking bad thoughts.


To come around to his spooking, it is absolute complete BULLSHIT. This horse is not afraid of things. My assessment of him is that he's big, he's spoiled, and he's lacking manners. I don't know if he thinks spooking will get him out of working--and maybe that's worked for him in the past--or if he just can't be bothered to focus on you long enough to behave himself, but I don't think there's anything he's genuinely afraid of.

The other day BM was watering outside the door to the arena and Shooter didn't care in the slightest. When she was done, she came in and was talking to me as we circled around her. One of the girls walked by again with the hose and he almost ran BM over from spooking...and then when I booted him forward he carried on like nothing had happened.

Or when we were hanging out in the aisle and he was completely chill. He reached over to nose the tub against the wall, thought nothing of it, went back to chilling, and then five seconds later leaped sideways away from it like it was after him.

Or this morning when there were two tarps outside the barn and he tried spooking but I caught him with the whip at the exact right second and he strolled over to them completely unconcerned, even as I jumped around on them and kicked them at him...and then spooked and tried to spin around at absolutely nothing behind him.


I know I shouldn't talk shit about other people's horses on my blog, but this dude is a straight up pig to handle, and I've had no problem telling his mom that.

he gets distracted staring at himself in the mirror constantly

Under saddle he also tries spooking, but he's a lot more unsuccessful. For one, he's so obese that it's like riding a beluga whale having a seizure in slow motion, but he also responds really well to being redirected to something else. He's so slow in his under saddle spooks that I can usually feel them coming a mile away and distract him with something else.

We're working mostly at the trot right now. He's got to learn to shift his weight back and articulate his hocks while relaxing his back and not curling under. You know, basic dressage. He likes to default to a fake head set, on the forehand and trailing his hind end. So we've been doing lots and lots of transitions within the trot and trying to get him to push his nose out and take a breath. I try to finish off with a lap or two of super collected work because then he's more willing to stretch down and out for his walk while cooling out.

I've ditched his mom's elevator bit and flash and switched him over to Bobby's french link. Copious amounts of candy are shoved in his mouth before and during our rides to get him to soften his jaw and move the bit around in his mouth a little bit. That's actually coming along really well.

He's not the easiest or the most fun horse to ride or be around, but he's a smart dude and somewhere in there he's quite a fancy dude. I'm still super grateful I get the chance to put my grubby hands on him whenever I want because he's doing a lot to broaden my education and lessen the load on Bobby.

ok, i do like him just a little bit.


  1. Beluga whale having a seizure in slow motion bahahahah

  2. At least he's a handsome whale! Sounds like the spooking is something that he has learned more than being actually spooky. I don't know if I would like dealing with that!

  3. Those ears. I CANNOT with those adorably tiny ears!

  4. "he's so obese that it's like riding a beluga whale having a seizure in slow motion" OMG I almost peed. BWAHAHAHAH!

  5. Perhaps he sees dead horses like Jamp does. Jampy is worse under saddle than he is in hand, but I have a feeling he wasn't always that way. For Jamp though, he's legit scared of stuff. His heart races and eyes bug out. Poor guy. If only they had legal xanax for horses.

  6. Holy cow mine spooks almost the exact same way. When I'm on the ground, he'll try to hide behind me or put me between him and the scary thing. But the spooks are complete BS and he knows it. They've gotten A LOT better in the three years I've had him.. so time and patience should do it

  7. He's adorable. I think you will be good for each other.

  8. Sounds like my baby horse. She'll walk by something 50x and the 51st time it's obviously going to eat her. I also had a great whale, only we called mine the great grey whale... haha. And yes, her attempts at bucking were adorable. Typically I started cussing her out while riding them and had to tell random strangers that I had Tourette's... haha. Glad you have another pony to play with to keep things easier for Bobby!

  9. Lol what a clown. A cute clown tho ;)

  10. I hate dealing with horses that try to jump on top of you when they spook. At least you can't stay mad at that face for long!

  11. Extra ponies are so fun to play with!

  12. Ugh. I am OK with horses spooking undersaddle, but in hand and into someone is a major pet peeve of mine and I have Arabians.

    I much prefer the stand there and snort at something if you truly have a problem.

    I think you're right that he's using it as an evasive action.

    Sounds like you are on the right track with making him into a good citizen. :)

    He is rather cute looking for a Beluga though. :)


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