Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Monday, October 20, 2008

Perplexing Problem

The ever entertaining Zing has presented us with a new not so entertaining problem. Twice now he has taken off with Kristina uncontrollably. One time a little over a week ago in the arena and again yesterday in the front yard as we were trying to get some photos.

Zing is too broke for this behavior. He has been ridden outside of an arena in the past and has been very good about it. We had planned to take him to the park yet this fall. But with this new behavior we can't take him anywhere until it is (hopefully) resolved.

This is so frustrating for both Kristina and me. She has worked him 4 times a week for over a year and he has been doing really well. If Kristina was an average rider she would have been in real trouble and as it is, she had a hard time staying on and controlling him. 

We have a lesson today and we have worked at getting him in the trailer, so I have hope of getting Zing over there. I wish I could just sit down with him and ask him what his problem is.


  1. Did she attempt a one rein stop? where you pull his head around on the one side to circle him in a extremely tight circle, I don;t imagine I'd be strong enough to do this to Diamond if she ever ran off with me, but I've heard it works for others. I had a horse that would do this before, out of the blue, just take off on me, no reason just did. One time she took me out into the middle of a cornfield and then stopped and stood still. We wound up selling her as you just never knew when this would happen.

  2. I have wanted to do the same thing with our hyper and sometimes 'out of control' golden retriever a few times : ) (the sit down and talk about it part) *sigh* I guess we just have to try and kick our animal intuition into over drive : ) Well I hope he calms down for you as an out of control horse is a lot more troublesome than a hyper golden.

    I am back to blogging again!! The internet connection is allowing pics to upload again YEA!

    Bye for now


  3. The one rein small circle does work, but you have to work at keeping your balance well to the inside at the same time.
    Now - about what Zing did. I hope it won't seem terribly presumptive to explore some ideas. I have been priveleged to work with a physical therapist who has some great things to check when a horse is a sudden problem. First of all, is Zing able to choose to stand square when he is hanging out in the crossties or at the end of a lead rope? Doris says a horse will fall into almost halter quality square on their own if their body parts are in the right place. For example, on Saturday, Cassidy was not using good frame at all on the lunge line so I brought him back into the stable to evaluate him. In the crossties, my usually perfectly square horse did not show up. He had all four legs going all different directions. This might have happened because he was a little rowdy when being shod recently. I had not put shoes on him before and I assumed because of his age that this would be no big deal. It was!The blacksmith was so good to him but Cassidy had jerked pretty hard with his right hind anyway. Also, Cassidy feels GREAT and may have just played hard. Now that I have been taught by Doris, this doesn't stress me like it used to! Anyway, the next step was to physically pick up each foot and place them in the correct position. Then, I could see his neck was OK (no bulge pushing forward on one side where neck and shoulder join). Then I stood behind at a safe distance and checked his hips. The right one was dropped just a little. This is the one he had jerked around on. I went to his side and ran my hand down his leg to his foot and picked it up as if I was going to clean it but did not bring it back all that way. I just gently picked the leg straight up, folding the whole limb up towards his flank. I was suprised to hear a tiny click. Sometimes you don't. Anyway, I put the limb down. Next I reset all the legs at square. Then I stood by the right hind leg and put my right hand against the hip bone, pushing away, and my left hand around the point of the hock, bringing the hock into a more correct position. I just gently held this for awhile. I finished with a step that I like but will not suggest anyone do as it could be dangerous- a gentle tail pull. You sight all the way up between the ears. Then I walked him around and watched him as I stopped. Sometimes they do not feel immediately comfortable being correct as tissues have stretched into the wrong position. Cassidy was not yet choosing a comfortable square position. Then Sunday I put him into the crossties to check one more thing - were the buttocks unusually close together? (Can be caused by a sudden sitdown by the horse.) I had just checked Cassidy and decided this was not a problem when I noticed he had such a different attitude. His head was low and relaxed and he was comfortably square. I saddled up, longed him just at walk and trot a few minutes in order to confrim that he had found his correct frame again, and rode carefully at walk for a few minutes. It was a very short ride but felt so wonderful from hindfoot clear through to his nose that I had a big smile on my face when I got off. Knowing Cassidy pretty well, I think if I had not known how to make him comfortable, he would have protested eventually, maybe vigorously. I cannot tell you how many times I have said that I don't think I could ride if it weren't for what I have learned frm Doris Hallstead, the BEST physical therapist ever.
    I remember a few times sitting with this gentle lady at horse shows realizing how difficult it was for her to see horses gamely giving their best with all kinds of physical problems that a few techniques like the above could fix. I think my favorite "Doris" story is about the lame horse a student of mine had. I was just learning then but I said "Let's take him to Doris." They called the blacksmith. No help. I said "Let's take him to Doris." They called the vet. No help. They said "OK, let's go to Doris." Doris quietly listened to the whole story and watched the obviously lame horse walk around with its very lame front leg. She walked around the horse and then moved back to the front lame leg. She started running her thumb up the leg from hoof to the head. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was following a nerve. Now I have great respect for Doris' ability with nerves as she has worked one me too. She got to the head and massaged along the cheekbone and said "He will be fine now." Now this took about 3 minutes. My student was taken aback but saddled up and rode around the arena. Perfect! I asked Doris to explain what on earth she had just done. She said in her quiet way that it was really very simple - the horse had smacked his head in the place she stopped at and every time he put his foot down it gave him such a jolt that he became "lame". We were all studying the bottom of the horse when the problem was at the top! Then she asked if anyone had studied him from the front. We all started to chuckle and said his nickname was "Clown" because he had a comical look. Well. Doris pointed out that one eye was lower than the other and said it could be fixed. While the horse was no longer lame, this misplacement of the face could cause headaches and personality problems. She fixed this by gently bringing the tongue out and just to the side of the face. The horse dropped his head and chewed for several minutes and the face realigned! There are tissues that could allow this and also the facial bones of the horse are almost zipper like.
    Doris has written two books that are almost like manuals with photo guides to problems that can be fixed. Her first book is Symmetry in Motion. The second is Release the Potential. The foreword in the second book is an article I wrote for our dressage club newsletter about how I had used the first book with various horses.
    Sorry I took up so much blog space but I have wanted to mention these things because I have wondered if Impressive could be helped too.

  4. Beth, I asked Kristina about a one rein stop and she said she has had horses fall when she has done this and because Zing is so 'elastic' she was afraid to try. She felt it was safer to just ride it out. I wouldn't have been able to do that, so trying the stop may have been my choice.
    Ashley, a hyper golden can be very troublesome! I used an animal communicator with Zing this past winter. I did it for entertainment, but she startled me when she brought up a large scar I never have talked about online or show in any photos. I am skeptical by nature, but I am stumped in how to explain it.

  5. dr, thanks for the thoughtful post. I am interested in reading Doris' books. I am a true believer in checking the horse's body. I have used an acupuncturist who also does some chiro. Acupuncture has helped my saddlebred stallion immensely and Zing has had some work done, but hasn't seemed to need it for awhile. Something being off with him was my first thought. I will still pursue his teeth and body, but we now believe his action is a result of some of the work Kristina has been doing in the last month. Zing is smart! Too smart and he is very willful. There has been a common thread developing over the course of time. It started with his refusal to go into the arena through the service door. It's carried over to a bulking at the barn door, bulking at his stall door and finally refusing to get into a trailer.
    Now he has decided to bolt. Bill wanted Kristina to stop giving Zing something to brace against and had her throwing away the reins when he tried to brace. Where it went wrong is, we didn't have another lesson for too long. Kristina allowed him too much space and he started bringing his head way up and he discovered he could get away from the bit. It created a new problem that culminated in a run off.
    This is all connected to Zing quietly being in charge. He is a hand-raised orphan who interacts very well with people. He has a gentle, kind nature and he isn't afraid of anything. He also has a very clownish, funny personality. This has camouflaged the fact that he is basically in charge. It's a natural place for him to be as a stallion and because he is typically easy to handle, I didn't see it. I looked for other reasons for his behavior. Bill sees it and has given me some advice which I will heed. He did say, and I know this is true, that I am like a 'litter mate' to Zing. I acted as his dam, but I could never correct him as a mare would, so I'm more sibling than dam. Trainers have told me he is different when I am around, he becomes a bit more animated and pushy. Kristina is going to have to take a more active role in his day-to-day correction. I'm not implying that I can't handle him, but he has some subtle issues that someone else will have more success with.
    Thanks for the helpful info. I will search for the books.

  6. Oh, I also wanted to say about WF Impressive. I think some adjustment may make him more comfortable, but it won't make him riding sound. His hock is a large bit of calcification. He is sound on it, but he can't be ridden. But I bet he is probably out of whack from having a bad hock all of these years.

  7. I just looked at the photo and he is about half way up, this had to be just before he rocketed. She sure can ride!


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