Wednesday, August 28, 2013

things to think about

I told myself I would not do this, but I can't stop thinking about it. And since I have missed my exits on the freeway three times, I decided to just write it out to get it out. Trying to figure out what is wrong/bothering Shyloh is pretty pointless, she can't tell me, and I can only speculate. I appreciate all the comments and insights, and they are definitely something that I considered. So here goes. . .

Change in food
At the other barn Shy was being fed hay, grass pasture, and barn grain. She pretty much got as much hay, grass, and grain as she wanted since she was at the top of the herd. I fed her the supplements I give her (magnesium, raspberry leaf, and multi vitamin crumbles) when I was at the barn, since the barn was unable to separate from the herd to give them to her. I would say I was at the barn about 3-6 days a week. 
At this barn Shy has grass and round bale access. She gets her supplements daily. 

So could it be the supplements? I can't imagine this kind of behavior from a lack of grain, it is usually a problem with too much grain. 
Change in herd
At the other barn Shy was top of the herd. She ate what she wanted, went where she wanted, and could move other horses off when she wanted. 
At this barn, I am not quite sure where Shy fits in yet. She can hold the others off of the round bale if she wants, but sometimes they don't let her at the bale. 

She seems comfortable here, but maybe she is lacking the confidence that she had when she was top of the herd? Also, she may be getting a little herd sour. She doesn't want to leave them and she nickers when she sees them. Shy rarely nickers. 
Less doing nothing time
At the other barn, we did spend a lot of time walking around, through the trails, grazing, and just doing nothing.
At this barn, I have been leaving Shy in with the herd until I want to do something with her. 

Maybe she needs that do nothing time to be comfortable?

Those are really my top three. I don't think she needs less work, we don't really work much. She may need more work or harder work. The work we do does not even put her in a sweat. So maybe harder work? Pull more weight? Or maybe more intellectual work. Get back into clicker training and even try some horse agility stuff. Other thoughts are that maybe Shy is only comfortable driving team? She does really well in a team. She is more nervous by herself. She also does really well with my lead line kids. She feels more comfortable with someone on the ground with her. Like I mentioned earlier. . . so many possibilities, I will never know the answer. 

I spent some time with Shy today walking through the soybean fields and discovered that Shy loves soybeans! Then we spent some time cooling off in front of the fan. It was a good day, even if it doesn't solve the problem. 

Also, She Moved to Texas is going a Horze halter give away! Head on over and check her out!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

i'm a mess inside

I could sit here and write that I harnessed Shyloh up and hooked up the sled with a 50 pound bag of bedding pellets, took Shy for a line drive around the property and Shy did pretty good. I could sit here and write that Shy seemed a little jumpy but worked through it, she listened extremely well, and we had no attempted take offs. I could sit here and write that Shy gave me a decent line drive and we ended on a great note. And all of that would be true. It is what we did today. And it is what I would normally write about because I do my best to stay positive. 

But I really can't get over the fact that we have not moved forward in our training, but backwards. We started out the show season with such greatness. We were driving in the cart classes and doing so well for us. Even after the run away cart incident, Shy was able to bounce back quickly and we were able to hook and drive her the following weekend. 

Still a goof
But after this last attempted run away with Beth, Shy seems so nervous and tense and jumpy. I can visibly see her clench her muscles and twitch from whatever she thinks is coming. You can just feel the tension in the air. I spent a long time after her harness was on just talking to her, hoping to ease her mind a bit. Then I spent the whole line drive talking to her. But Shy still had her moments. She does this "spook", which I call the Fred Flintstone. . . her legs move so quick, but she doesn't go anywhere. And she doesn't spook at the traffic, semi trucks, cars, or motorcycles speeding down the road. She spooks at un-normal things, like she thinks I sound mad behind her or she thinks she did something wrong. Those are the things that just send her falling apart and into hyper-tense mode. I feel we have just fallen so far backwards. 
I know she CAN do it. . .
Then I start to question myself. The what ifs (that never do any good anyway). . .
What if Shy doesn't have whatever it is that is needed to be a driving pony?
What if all of these incidences are her way of telling me she doesn't want to do this?
What if she will always be unreliable and too scared to drive?
What if she can't be be "fixed"?
What if. . . ?
But why does she get herself so worked up?
So, after a long drawn out discussion with myself about my feelings (something I tend to ignore most of the time), I came to the conclusion that I am sad, frustrated, discouraged, and a wee bit depressed about this. Compounding on the really crappy time that Shy decided to unravel is a bunch of other personal stuff going on, which makes it that much worse. My favorite get away and coping skill is getting me down and sending me spinning into a frenzy. Why Shy? I can almost see why people choose crack, almost. I have tried crying, but I just can't do it. I think it might make me feel better, kind of a release, but the tears don't come. I am just really at a loss with what I should do. There are many options: send her to training (where? none in the area, plus money is an issue right now), sell her (um, no), have her be an expensive pasture pet (I'd rather not), find another discipline (perhaps), or keep on keeping on. I don't know. I am not looking for answers, just trying to get my thoughts out and document where I am right now in this journey. But, I guess it's not an adventure if it doesn't have some rough spots, right? I am certain that we will get through it, but right now I just feel that I am in a whirlwind of emotion. Ugh.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

shy earns her keep

It was clean up day at Hidden Creek Draft Horses! 

Kyle was cutting the grass. . .
This mower plays a part in the following story
And Jaime was trimming trees with my help. 

Then Jaime got this bright idea to hook the sled to Shyloh and have her help clean up all the fallen branches. Sure! Why not? Shy needs to work around the barn, earn her keep. Plus, I was wanting to work Shy anyway.

So, out came the harness and the sled. 

Shy was more than thrilled to be helping out. . .

I knew she would not like the sound of the sled on the pavement, so I had Kyle head her to start. After a quick scoot, we were good to go. Shy was actually doing pretty well. She was a little nervous, but nothing I couldn't handle. 

We loaded some tree branches in the sled and off we went. We being Shy, me, and the sled. . .the tree branches fell off. Oh, well, it was a good try. We loaded a branch or two because Shy was going to drag something around since I had her all harnessed up. 

Round and round we went, doing pretty good. We had a few snags when Shy refused to go a certain direction and again when she backed out of her traces, but it was easily fixed. But, then we were going along and Shy spooked at the riding lawn mower. The same lawn mower we went by twenty times already. The same lawn mower that was just sitting there, not running, not moving, nothing. But, okay, spook, recover, no big deal, right?

Wrong. Shy saw it again and took off. I was not expecting it and lurched forward. My mind was thinking I should let go so I don't get hurt. . .but it was also thinking, you better not let go and have a loose, run away horse again. Hang on, make her stop, and keep line driving. I held on, got a little bit of biothane line burn, but stopped her. And I don't blame the lawn mower. I blame Shy. I really think she was trying to get out of working. She was not scared of that lawn mower any more than I would be. 

I made her keep working, got a couple more branches, and went by the mower again. No more issues. Even when I took her back to the hitching post and the sled hit the pavement again, Shy was fine. She was so trying to play me today. It wasn't working. Score one for me!

Friday, August 23, 2013

back with the herd

Shyloh is finally out of raging heat and has been let back in with the herd. She is quite pleased.

Shy feels that this is where she belongs
Although Isaac is a bit confused as to why Shy doesn't seem to like him as much anymore. . .
Totally ignored by Shy. . .
Poor guy, got his heart played with. He followed Shy all around and all she did was mini kick at him. I didn't get to work Shy today because me and Jaime spent the afternoon travelling around looking for a bit for her driving pony.

Meet Dexter. He is an ugly little fellow, but he drives and he moves real nice. 

He has some ground issues, like being hard to catch and not exactly standing still when being harnessed. But once attached to the cart he is a solid pony. I told Jaime I would try and work my magic with catching him. I grabbed some Sticky Buns treats and walked up to him. He took a piece then ran off. I followed, but then stopped and turned away. He immediately stopped and started walking toward me. Ha! I read places that this worked and it is true. I had tried it many times with Shy. . .the not following, the no eye contact, the turning away. Did not work at all with her. She was like, good, I am being ignored, she forgot about me and now she will leave me alone. But with Dexter, it worked perfectly. We caught him in a matter of minutes. Then, we put his harness on and hooked him to the cart. Jaime too him for a spin.

While they were working, Shy was busy snorting and making her WTF noise. She was not pleased with the the new mat at the hitching post. 
Is it safe?
She was also not sure what she thought about the four wheeled cart being pulled by the pony. I made her walk up to it then we walked along it. 
It makes a funny noise!
While we were at it, I figured that we might as well check out the mail box. Remember, the mailbox she hated during the trail course?

And Shy walked right up to this mailbox.
Crazy eyes are just from the flash
Grrrr. . . I put Shy back with the big boys and girl and donkey and she was happy as can be. Hopefully she will be better about coming inside and not play catch me if you can. Although, Kyle did say that she prefers to bring her own self in, if the gate is left open she walks in the barn on her own, like the boys. What a brat!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

horse talking and sass

Shyloh's level of sass has been out of this world lately! But before I get into that, I want to share a cute story from the show this weekend.
I did ask Shy if she had fun at the show and this was her response
It's about Art and Curly. Who just can't love those two? This was Curly's first show driving all by himself, what a big boy! Beth was driving him and Sierra was driving Art with me riding along. As we were warming up around the show grounds Art and Curly were going along, just having themselves a good ol' horsey conversation. Curly would neigh and Art would answer. Back and forth they went. . .it was quite cute. And they were not calling out loud, it was not obnoxious at all. I can only imagine what they were saying:
Curly: Look at me, Art! I'm doing so good all by myself!
Art: Great job, Curly, keep up the good work!
Curly: I will, this is fun! 
Art: Yup, just make sure that you are paying attention.
Curly: Look at meeee!
Curly and Art. I didn't have any photos of them driving single
And then Sierra stopped Art short because some people walked right in front of us. Curly came right up to our back and had his head over the back of our cart. That horse is something else!

While those two were having their driving conversation, Shy was back at the trailer nickering away at almost every horse that walked by her. Extra special nickers for Notch, Clutch, and Reba. It was different, yet nice, to hear her "talking" to all the horses. Overall, she is a pretty silent horse. But lately she has been feeling very vocal.
Speak to me!
And sassy. So so sassy. I got a text from Jaime the other day that Shy would not come near her grazing muzzle. I told her not to worry about it. When I went out later Kyle said he was chasing Shy around her pasture trying to get it on her. And whoa can Shy move. . .she was doing sliding stops and turns on her back legs like he had never seen. She was determined to not have that muzzle on.
Keep that muzzle far from me!
Then I got another text from Jaime saying she couldn't get Shy in the barn last night. Shy was playing ring around the round bale, making Jaime chase her as she was tossing her head in defiance. I told Jaime to just leave Shy outside next time she pulls that. There is water and she is used to staying out anyway. 
I mean, really?
Then today. . .I came to the barn. Shy had removed her halter and muzzle somehow. It appears that she rolled them off. I found the halter and went up to Shy to put it on, trying to make it easier when she comes in at night. Shy was having no part of that and ran and ran and ran. So, I told her if you want to run, we will run. I kept her in a canter around the pasture as she tossed her head and bucked in joy. Shy had no problem running around. She even switched directions. Once she stopped, but as soon as I walked near her, off she went! More canter, toss, and buck. She looked so pretty running about and I was actually surprised that she was willing to keep the canter up for as long as she did. Finally, Shy stopped and let me put the halter on her. Whew. Later, I found the muzzle on the far side of the pasture. I was not even going to attempt that. . .
Even that tail is sassy!
I wanted a week of rest (mostly for me) but I think Sassy Shy will be put back into work sooner than planned. I am thinking a tire drag to build muscle. . .

Monday, August 19, 2013

monday musings by shyloh #98

All the practice I did with my lead line kids paid off! I took extra special care of Lily and we got a forth place ribbon and a fifth place ribbon in trail in hand and ridden trail! How awesome is that?

Tommy ended up using Clutch so he had his very own pony to use. They were super cute together. I was happy about that since I actually had to do less work. Hee hee. 
They made a cute team!
The kids had so much fun at their first horse show! I hope they are hooked forever because I had a lot of fun with them too. 

They even got a cart ride with Art!

Allie also got a fifth place in line driving obstacle course and trail in hand. I was a little bit stubborn and did not want to go near the mail box. I just knew a horse eating mountain lion was hiding inside. Why else would it be all closed up like that unless it was containing a wild horse eating mountain lion? 

Allie was so busy she didn't get many photos of me and my awesomeness, but luckily other people did! She just needs to wait for them to post them on Facebook. So when they get posted, Allie will share them on my very own Facebook page!

I really like going down to the shows. I was giving all the horses hello nickers. But now I need some recovery time from my very busy day. Hay and sleep are in order!
After show sleepy time

Friday, August 16, 2013

trail practice

My pity party is over and I have continued doing what I normally do with Shyloh to get ready for the show. Shy seems over whatever it was that freaked her out and back to her new normal self. 

Jaime scheduled a trail practice class to prepare for the show. We scoured her property and found a bridge, some poles, a barrel, and a tarp. Perfect! Jaime got Notch, her sister, Jill, got Reba the shire mare, and I got Shy all harnessed up and ready to go over our trail course. 
At the hitching post
Shy was very careful and slow moving, almost like she was unsure of what to expect, but she was not tense and nervous. In fact, we had a great practice on the trail course. First time on the bridge and Shy did not even hesitate! Usually, it takes me a couple tries before she decided it is okay.

With the tarp, Shy did hesitate and try to turn around, but I turned her back and tapped her on and she decided to give it a try. After that, Shy had no problem with the tarp. We took a couple spins around the course and called it a day. I am glad to have that Shy back.

Notch and Reba were great on their trail runs, too. . .even if Reba was not a fan of the bridge!

The next day, it was time for my lead line kids to practice trail with Shy. They really are the cutest kids. Tommy was ready to pick Shy's feet and as he was he said, "This is the frog." So cute! And I love how they are listening and learning.

Terry brought some cones so we added to the course. And Becky let us borrow a kid's saddle. Terry fitted Shy and the kids and we were ready to go!
Looking good!
I had the kids walk Shy through the course first. Shy was so good for them, even though she did dive for grass. Tommy dug right in and yanked Shy up with all of his 3 year old might! Adorable!! Shy took every obstacle for the kids in stride.

Then it was time to ride! Tommy and Lily took turns going through the course on Shy's back and Shy took care of them. Jaime's niece and one of the kids even got a battery powered truck out and drove it around and Shy didn't care! Gotta love this Shy! Shy is a really good kid's pony. . .maybe I should pop some kids out for Shy. . .

Everyone is very excited for the show Sunday. Tomorrow is going to be busy getting the trailer, getting packed, washing ponies, and getting ready to show!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

what now?

Imagine you are a horse with an unknown history. Two years ago, you refused to be caught in under two hours and people scared you so bad you would shake. When being around people, especially new people, you backed away and became a tense ball of nerves. If it became too much, you just wanted to get away, quick. You never struck, reared, kicked, or anything aggressive, you just needed to be away.

Back to present day. . .you, this same horse, actually like people. Maybe you won't go out of your way to go up to them or be a cuddly horse, but you aren't terrified of them. You know people carry treats on them. You know your routine, you have been driven, ridden, and you are doing great. And, if someone you know is on the ground with you, you can relax and do what is needed. Even if you get spooked or a little nervous when working, you can easily relax and move on without issue.  

Pretty big improvement, right? This is Shy. She is great. She has come so far. Bad days do happen, but Shy is a horse that wants to please and wants to do what is right. She never has the intention of hurting someone. She really is a good horse. 

But for some reason, on this drive, Shy went back to a place she hasn't been in quite a long time. 
Only photo I got
After making some cart adjustments so it fit Shy better, off we went. Shy started out decent, but she was pretty tense with Beth. At certain points, Shy refused to do what was asked of her for no particular reason. Beth was patient with Shy and waited her out and eventually Shy would comply. This happened a couple times and Shy was getting more and more anxious and tense. There was no reason for her to be so worked up. Beth was calm, easy going, and letting Shy choose to do the right thing. She never forced Shy or made her do anything. So when Shy busted out into a canter and tried to run away with Beth, it was scary. It was like all of Shy's pent up energy and nervousness just exploded. Beth was able to stop Shy before it got too bad, but it was still scary. And Shy was just shaking. Like I said, there was no apparent reason for any of her behaviors. 

We ended with some line driving to make Shy work. She was still a little bit nervous and absolutely refused to go near the cart. We did put the cart on her and had Shy stand. Shy was still jumpy. And we don't know why. What we do know is that Shy is perfectly capable of being good with a cart. But this time, she reverted back to behaviors from the beginning. 

So, why these behaviors? Why now? At the last show, it had been a while since Shy was hooked and she did wonderful. She was even driven by a kid and placed! That is the show that her and Art placed first in a couple different team events. Shy was a rockstar that day. So I know she has it in her to be awesome. 

We racked our brains as to what the issue could be. Shy being in heat? She is, but that never was an issue before. In fact, she was in heat last time we drove and she was great. The cart? Maybe. . .Shy really seems to not like this cart. She drives great in Cody's cart. Herd sour? Shy does express her desire to be back in the herd, but she never calls out and after a few short arguments she is able to get back on track. Beth was completely puzzled by Shy's behaviors. She said it seems that she was expecting to get beat every time she took a wrong step. It was odd. It was stuff similar to two years ago when I got Shy. And now that we have overcome that on the ground, it is something we need to overcome under harness. 
The "oh hell no" look!
As crappy as it was to have Beth experience Shy at her worst, she said she finally understood my trepidation about driving her. I told her I was not crazy. . .she said she never thought I was crazy, maybe just over reacting. I have tried to explain how Shy can be, but the Shy most people see is the calm, go with the flow, just wants to eat grass Shy. I still think they all think I'm crazy. 

So, one million and one thoughts have been running through my head and getting me pretty down. . .Should I even continue trying to drive with Shy? Is this something that we can overcome? Can we work through this? How? What if we can't? I don't even want to think about it.

As of right now, we will not be driving in the show. We will concentrate on our lead line kids and having fun. And I am okay with that.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

it's back. . .

When your Haflinger has gotten too fat. . .

Desperate measures must be taken, even if it makes for an unhappy pony. 

And not only is Shyloh fat, she is in heat and had to be separated from Isaac. She just would not stop throwing her whorse self at him until Isaac finally could not resist the temptation. . . aaaand Shy's lady parts are now raw. It's gross. 

Apart from Shy getting her groove on, she had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad driving day. I'll write about it later, as I am still trying to process everything. Let's just say, it is now known that I am not over reacting when I say certain things about how she can be. . .

Enjoy a couple baby Gypsies that I went to visit today. Baby horses make everything better!

Baby F loves to be scratched!! 

Spartacus, the youngest and biggest of the babies! 
Ms. Molly. . .it is hard work being a baby