**I have been trying to get this post done all day. I have not had a chance to tighten things up so please, bear with me. I wanted to get it out there sooner than later. I would really, really apprecaite your advice in this matter****
Be prepared, this is a long one. I know this sounds silly but this weekend I had my heart broke by a horse. However silly, it is the truth. I give my heart and soul to my horses. I try to feel what they feel and get into their heads to understand them better. I try to see things from their perspective and work with them accordingly. I GIVE a lot. I TRY a lot. If I were a mare, I think I would be a good one. I'd try to work hard for you and give you my best. So why don't I expect the same from my horses? Abby is a good mare. She is all heart and lays it on the line just about every time (we are all entitled to a few bad days here and there!) But Shaunti does not try.
Until this past weekend I had not been honest with myself or taken a good hard look at my horse. I saw what I wanted to see. Shaunit's nickname is "ol'man" or "grumpy ol'man". He has seen a lot in his days and suffered more than most should, so I figured that he was entitled to his grumpy habits, his idiosyncrasy's, and gave him more time than I have ever given a horse to work through his issues. Here is where I went wrong. I tried to work through his issues. He didn't. I have gone the extra mile to help him shape a new perspective of the world. I changed the way he was handled, fed, led, and rewarded. I thought that he had come a long way because it appeared that he had. But I realize that deep down I never trusted that he had actually changed his mind. He had changed his actions, at least when I set him up to succeed. Shaunti has healed fractures to his wither and shoulder from pull back and flip over accidents. He came to me with a broken nose. The horse I went to buy was suppose to be a "been-there-done-that" good ol'gelding that my Mom and DB (both inexperienced) would be able to ride. To say that he was not "as advertised" would be a gross understatement. I bought him out of pity. He is not a horse I would ever trust anyone inexperienced to ride or handle and I found out after purchase that he does not tie, and had serious pull back issues when handling his face. I put hours and hour into getting this horse to where he is. People at the barn comment all the time that they cant believe he is the same horse. He looks and acts like a different horse. In some ways that makes him worse than he was to start with...now you cant see him for what he really is! In a sense, I dressed a wolf up in sheeps clothing!
On Friday I was suppose to go back to Lundbom. Anyone who has not read about the amazing trip I had last month can read about it here; Part 2; Shaunti had some issues in the trailer but was given a good trip that ended well. He had walked off the trailer last time relaxed, calm and loaded back in again without any fuss. I didnt expect a problem but was a little worried that I had not taken the hours and hours or prep as I had last time.
Over the past month I have not been riding him 6 days a week or handling him for hours in a day, as I have in the past. I used to keep him really finely tuned but I have had a pretty full month and so he has only been ridden twice a week and has not been kept tuned up on his new ways. As the weeks went by he became more and more like the horse I had originally purchased.
So on Friday, I expected that it might take a little time to get him settled in the trailer, but I was prepared to help him through it. When I pulled him out of his stall, I knew I had reason to worry; He was full of piss and vinegar. I went to point him the trailer (as it is way to dangerous to actually get IN the trailer with him) and he blew backwards and out of hand. We had backed up to the arena so I went and caught him again. This time he loaded. I had planned on letting him go in and out but something about his attitude told me not to bother. We closed the door of the trailer behind him. He was standing in a large stock trailer, loose and as mad as a bat out of hell. He bit the sides of the trailer, shoved the door with his nose and pawed the floor. We gave him a few minutes to settle. I talked to him gave him a rub on the head. He came down a little so we tied him up. He stood for a few minutes and jigged. Something about the way he held himself told me not to put the other horse in yet. It was like I could see the words race across his face. "Screw this! Screw you!", he said. Shaunti was simply MAD. He was not panicked or scared. Shaunti decided to check out. "Cheque please!" He made a DECISION. He blew. Up, backwards, sideways...every way. He busted his halter in two spots. When he finished, he stood facing the exit and bit the door, hard. He was not shaking or wide eyed. He was not scared. He just wanted out.
In the end I had to take him out so that my friend could get on her way. Being the good friend that she is, she refused to leave me behind and arranged for me to take another horse. When I let him out of the trailer, he ran to the far side of the arena. It took me 10 minutes to catch him (I have never had a problem catching him) and he blew up once I had him on line...even though I was calm (as I could be) and was being quiet. He was the exact same horse that I had picked up, beaten, mad and frustrated, one year ago. The same look, the same distrust, the same horse. I have put countless hours into him and when it was time for him to pay me back, to take me where I needed to go, he checked out.
For seven years I kept horses that did not work for me. I sacrificed my needs to keep them. I have promised myself that I will not do that anymore. If a horse has paid it dues with me, they will earn themselves retirement but this horse has not. I have given a lot, not just to Shaunti but to Loachan, Keo, Ellie and Ghala. I GIVEN and GIVEN and got nothing in return. I cant go down that path again.
I need my horses work for me. I spend and obscene amount of money (I love that scene in Pretty Woman, dont you? "An obscene amount of money":) on horses every month and always try to balance that with what I get from them.
Here is where things get sticky. I can not sell him. Period.
I cant sell Shaunti because he is dangerous. Not just at the trailer. If you were to walk up to him and grab his halter, he would rear up on you. Horses are VERY dangerous They all are. That is just part of the gig. But I personally believe that if you have a horse with a KNOWN HABIT that is mortally dangerous, it is your job to either fix the problem, or if you cant, keep the horse in an environment where you KNOW that people can not be harmed (as in your own backyard) or failing that, have the horse put down. I believe that wholeheartedly and would give that advice to anyone so would be lacking my own conviction if I didn't give myself the same advice.
I know that Shaunti is dangerous. Some might not agree but others have not been in my shoes when they have seen him snap. It might not be this year or next, but at some point, for an UNREASONABLE excuse, Shaunti will blow up and hurt or kill someone.
If the REASON why he behaved dangerously were REASONABLE, I could accept that as part of the inherent danger of horses.
This horse has some serious issues, firmly ingrained in his eighteen year old head that cause him to be an unexpected danger to people around him. I have had professional help with this horse. I believe that I have done everything I can to help him get past this. I dont believe, any more, that he can get past this.
So where does that leave me???
I put this out to you, my blog world friends. Your advice would be much appreciated!!