So here are the things some of you were right about!

I have a feeling some of you will enjoy this post very, very much. Yes, you get to say you told me so, on a couple of points!

As long as my horse is ridden hunt seat only, he’s sound. I myself hypothesized this was going to be the case. Snazzywildpony said it perfectly: “I’ve gone on to learn a lot about how horses’ legs and feet work and if they aren’t striding out and landing heel first or at least flat footed, then they are hitting toe first, which pops the DDFT and over time causes navicular. If you watch WP classes, you see lots of dust clouds in front of the toes and that is just not good.”

Snazzywildpony, you are right. Jogging makes my horse lame. There is not a thing wrong with my horse except that western pleasure has evolved into something that is very hard for horses to stay sound doing. I have noted to multiple people that it was a lot harder to keep a western pleasure horse sound than, say, a polo pony. They were surprised to hear that but I am utterly convinced it is a fact. Horses can pack elk in the mountains, play 2 chukkers of polo or do 50 mile endurance rides and have fewer leg issues than they acquire trying to go super super slow with their heads down.

Here is another thing some of you were right about: No matter how trustworthy the trainer, it’s still best to have your horse close to home and be able to micromanage his care the way YOU want to. Everyone in the horse world has an opinion and there may not be one right way, but any of us who have been at this for a long time have got opinions about things like hoof angles that we feel more strongly about than who gets elected President. I know I do. So now my horse is close to home and I have gotten to micromanage him for a year. I LOVE how his feet look. He’s sound as a dollar barefoot. He’s getting exactly the amount of walking and trotting that I want him to have because I’m doing it. He gets his feed soaked because I want it done and I’m doing it. His water is always clean because I’m doing that too. He’s boarded and it is full care but I can still micromanage him to my heart’s content because I can be there every day. It is totally worth it.

He is going back into training and back to the shows eventually but now the pressure’s off. He’s a gelding, so who gives a crap if he wins or loses? I don’t have to spend a zillion dollars. I can show him when I feel like it and if he sucks, we can just stop. I can let my friends show him who don’t have a horse to show because it doesn’t matter any more if he has a bad class or looks bad in front of people or God forbid raises his poll above his withers or pokes his nose out from the vertical. Heck, I may even show him myself. It’s nice to have the value gone and the pressure off. Not that he’s turned into a $500 horse but, you know, he’s a gelding. In my mind it just doesn’t matter anymore if he has some great show record – since he’s not ever going to be for sale, the concern about building value via the show ring is nonexistent. He’s gone from being a business venture and an investment, albeit one that always got a lot of carrots, to a big shiny pet.

Did his personality change from when he was a stallion? Interestingly, he has more energy and is a higher energy horse as a gelding. I have been joking that removing the testicles made him more aerodynamic. 🙂 Other than that, same horse.

There was a late-teens rescued TB stallion that I worked with for a while this past fall, before and after he was gelded, and he was yet more proof to me that it isn’t testicles that make a horse badly-behaved. It was all about discipline and boundaries. He came in screaming like a fool and dragging me and kicking at me and all sorts of fun stuff. It was 80% fixed in 48 hours. It was 95% fixed in a week. The other 5% came after gelding – he stopped nickering. But 95% of the bad behavior was quickly halted, despite his age and history of (I am sure) being used for breeding, with very simple tactics. I put a rope halter on him so I had a little more control (couldn’t go with a chain because he was scared of them), and every time he was bad, I growled and we stopped and backed up a few steps. Sometimes we did this quite a few times. I used the “no talking” verbal command that I’d used with Cecil and he figured it out. It’s amazing how much you can get done with growling, stopping and backing, without having to use a whip or a chain. At this point, I’m pretty convinced that unless something is really hormonally wacky, that most spoiled older stallions can be re-routed into good behavior with a minimum of effort. He got gelded and got a lovely home — a nice happy ending after auctioning for $50.

I will close this post with a video of the Big Yellow Money Vacuum doing what he does best…

Published in: on April 10, 2012 at 2:48 am  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve got an 18 year old gelding (OTTB) who was gelded at 4. HE does HIS best at the same thing as your VL(formerly)C. Small world ;o)

  2. BYMV is still one of my favorite horses – no matter how aerodynamic he is. Or maybe you’re just one of my favorite horse people. Maybe I’m in love with both of you. Either way, thanks for throwing us readers a bone once in a while… 🙂

  3. Cathy, I’m just happy you get to enjoy your awesome horse now and that he doesn’t have to hurt anymore. I miss your writings, your shared intellect, and your wit. Mugs is great too and I followed her blog before she bought yours…Take care, Annette Carter aka Borderbratz/ OldChickenPonyRider/

  4. Now that is a great thing. I love to see a horse happy and able to do what it does best (WHATEVER that is). I have been wondering if you would geld him or not. Gelding makes everyone around a horse a lot more relaxed, although I’m not sure it truly makes a big difference. Most of the problem stallions I’ve seen are problems because they were bred before they were trained. Stallions with a real job tend to clop through life pretty quietly, even when harnessed with mares.

    • I agree – all the “good” stallions I know have a job that is not breeding. The more you ride them, the quieter they are!

      I’ve always thought the main factor that controls a stallion’s behavior is whether or not you expect them to behave and require good behavior. If you use the “well, he’s a stallion” get-out-of-jail-free card to explain something that is dragging you around, biting, etc. of course you are going to have an animal that is dragging you around, biting, etc.

      • Exactly. And as for specifically studdy behavior, well… if you only ever pull him out of his stall to jump a mare with him, what else is he supposed to think? I figure in the wild, a stud gets to breed a mare what… once a year? And he has, at best, ten mares. It’s no wonder that domesticated stallions collecting/breeding every other day for six months of the year act a bit… shall we say… nuts? Do that to the average man, and he’ll act much the same. 😛

  5. … I got the email about your new post, but I can’t see it, or your video…

  6. What is the “no talking” command that you mentioned and would you mind sharing how you taught it? Do you think it might work for a herd-bound horse who likes to call to his buddies?

    • Pretty simple…when you’re handling a stallion (or any horse, I don’t know why it wouldn’t work on whoever) and they scream or start doing the stallion nicker while in hand, you growl, say NO TALKING and back them up a few steps. Then proceed. It’s all about attention – if they are paying attention to you, they shouldn’t be talking to their friends for any reason.

      Herdbound horses are tough, though. I usually find that after you get them out, riding or longeing, they get tired and shut up but I certainly haven’t found any foolproof cure. Right now I personally own 2 old mares that we always work together because the one is just psychotically velcro’ed to the other and I’m afraid she’ll go through the electric fence if we leave her and take the other away. She is 24 and we usually ride together anyway so honestly, I have just chosen to give up and let her be with her friend. My usually cure is to stall the herdbound one and break the bond, but this mare is old and I don’t want to stall her for other health reasons. Sometimes you pick your battles…

  7. I am very surprised to hear you say that the VLC doesn’t need training or “added value” because he is a gelding and you intend never to sell him. Haven’t you always said that unexpected things happen, and a horse has a better chance of having a long, good life, with “added value”?

    You have always advised horse owners to add value to their horses because something might happen resulting in the human being unable to care for them. It makes sense, so I am surprised to see you make an exception for your horse.

    • Given his soundness issues, nothing can add value to him at this point. He is a beautiful horse without much dollar value, and if something happened to me, I have several friends who would want to give him a home, so I think he’s set. Nevertheless, at the point where I’m answering this (a year and a half after you posted it, whoops), we’ve gotten him sound and showing again. I’m not sure why, but it irks me to have a 10 year old sit around doing nothing, even though doing nothing is way cheaper than showing, ha ha!

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