After Eli finished up with the time he got off after injections, I was sooooo excited to hop on and see how amazing my “new” horse felt. We’d done some light tack walking, but nothing where I asked anything of him.
He did feel good… he was happy to stretch over his back and I was able to get a few seconds of real engagement here and there.
But he still felt… weird. He was more wiggly than I think I’ve ever felt him; completely unable to keep his body straight for even a step or two. It was like he 100% did NOT trust where his feet were going. He never took a truly lame step, but he just felt …. not quite there.
My first thought was that something had gone wrong with his injections, but he had no heat, swelling, lameness, or any other indication that something was physically wrong.
I called the vet and discussed the issue with him and he agreed upon seeing video that it wasn’t a physical issue, but perhaps a mental one.
This horse is so wildly defensive about his body that the vet thought that he just didn’t trust that the good feeling was actually good; hence his extreme need to “protect” himself by being unstable and backed off entirely.
So from there I had two options… force him through it or turn him out for another week or two and see where I was at.
I chose the latter of the two options, and tossed him out with his old man friends. No lunging, hacking, nothing.
I get a lot of flack because I refuse to push this horse further than he trusts me to. He came to me with issues, and I just don’t see the point in backsliding because he “should be” at x,y, or z place in his training. This is the only horse I have right now, and if it takes me years, than so be it.
If he was a different horse, than perhaps we would duke it out, but he’s not. I have to work the horse that’s in front of me. Giving him a break doesn’t mean he’s going to forget everything that he’s learned, it just means he’s learning that I’m going to listen to him, and deliver on my end of the bargain.
In my opinion, that’s what a good trainer does, especially when they love a horse as much as I love this one.
Fingers crossed my gut is right, and he’s able to come back happy and willing to work. The farm isn’t done showing for the year, but as far as Eli goes, I’m hoping to instead attend a few clinics this fall, for some off farm learning adventures. I’m hoping a bit more constructive setting than a horse show will better set him up to come out swinging next year.
It’s been such a learning curve with him, one that I’m thankful for as it’s really helped me grow and learn patience, humility, and to have a sense of humor. I think I’m going to end up with a great partner in this dude, and I def wouldn’t do much differently about the whole adventure.