Thursday, 12 October 2017

One-Woman Horse

Kachina is a bit of a special snowflake. It has been well documented on this blog that she is both a horse with a questionable history and some tension issues, but also one who I can successfully take on a variety of adventures whether it is trail riding, cow herding, or dressaging.

On the ground, she is consistently difficult for getting her feet trimmed (luckily I have a saint of a farrier who is firm but calm and keeps coming back to try and give her positive experiences). She also doesn't like being tied in her home barn. On the other hand, there are lots of things she is good at. She doesn't pull back, she trailer loads easily, she will stand tied calmly for hours at clinics or shows, she gets along well with other horses, and, she's consistently easy to catch, even in the humongous pasture.... or so I thought...

On Tuesday I got a message from the BO asking if we could move the horses out of the pasture and back to their winter pens because the cows were coming home this week. There are three horses out in the pasture so I coordinated with S and P, the owners of the other two, to get them all moved yesterday so none of them would be left alone. S and P had plans later in the evening so they asked me if they could move all 3 horses at 3:30 in the afternoon. I was still at work so I couldn't meet them at that time but they were happy to move Kachina and I was fine with it as I would be be out there a couple hours later to check on her once she was in her pen.

Well, I got out to the barn at 5pm and S and P were still out there. They had tried for over an hour to catch Kachina and they couldn't even get close. I felt really bad for them but was also surprised. I heard once before that the BOs had trouble catching Kachina in the pasture, but they only try and catch her when they have a tube of dewormer in hand so that made more sense. I also know Kachina wasn't a fan of a strange man peeking inside her mouth at a dressage show tack check. Kachina sees S and P almost as much as she sees me though, so they are neither strangers or people who bring unpleasant things, in fact they sometimes come bearing food. I figured they would have no problem catching her, especially when her buddies were already caught. Not so, apparently she did quite a bit of running. They didn't want to get her too hot and sweaty so when I arrived they were giving her a breather. The other two horses were in the pen and Kachina was standing near the fence staring at her buddies from afar. I grabbed my halter, walked right over to her, and Kachina turned towards me and let me halter her with zero issues, same as always.

I have really mixed feelings about this new piece of information. On one hand it gives me warm fuzzies inside that Kachina has chosen me as her person and won't be caught by anyone else. I also kind of like the idea that it would be hard for anybody to steal or mess with my horse. However, on the other hand it really concerns me. What if someone had to catch Kachina in an emergency? Also there was a blog hop last year about making your horse a solid citizen to improve their chances in life if they ever needed to be sold, this is decidedly not solid citizen behavior.

This development also leaves me with questions:

  1. Is being uncomfortable with other people the reason that Kachina gets so tense during trims? Last week the farrier was out and Kachina was not wanting to cooperate. I had yet another conversation with her trimmer about what I can do to work on this training issue. I've done a huge amount of ground work and handling of Kachina's feet and she has gotten good with me but it doesn't seem to be translating for trims. We hypothesized that the change in routine might be the issue, or maybe she has sensitivity in her soles and gets uncomfortable, so we decided to do have her trimmed twice as often but smaller trims or only fronts or hinds each time, so each appointment is less long and also Kachina gets used to it happening more often. That still sounds like a decent plan, but maybe the root cause is that Kachina isn't comfortable being handled by other people. 
  2. How do I fix this? I feel like the simple answer is get more people to handle Kachina but that's easier said than done. My boarding situation is pretty basic and the owners don't handle the horses regularly. I have some friends I can ask to come out, but I don't want to impose too much, and I feel like this may be the kind of thing that takes a lot of sessions to address. Would it be better to get one person other than me to handle her regularly like a free half lease, or should I try and have a whole bunch of different people just do small things like go and feed her a treat and then retreat? 
  3. Am I reading way too much into this? Lots of horses are tough to catch in a pasture, doesn't mean they're scared of people. This was just one occurrence, so an admittedly tiny sample size, but at the same time it does seem like it might fit with a larger pattern of observations I've made though the years. 


If anyone else has had a horse like this, please chime in and let me know what helped or didn't help in your case.

7 comments:

  1. Eugene is a one-man horse. He likes my husband and that's it. Even me, who he has know just as long and who feeds him and regularly handles him is regarded with a great deal of suspicion. I don't have any good advice since we haven't solved this with him, but one thing that gets us through appointments is my husband being there. He's more trusting of the vet and farrier if my husband is there as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, that's good to know. I am there when the farrier is there but that doesn't seem to be good enough

      Delete
  2. Ginger used to be exactly like this - no one could catch her but me and certainly no one could ride her. So weird, even with treats she was not a fan of 'strangers'. Im sorry to say the only answer has been to have multiple people riding and handling her regularly. I got lucky at the barn I'm at because the kids are all keen to ride and patient with the drama. She still has the odd person she does not like, but I'll take it since it used to be the opposite - only the very rare person she liked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I'm glad it has the potential to get better! I may need to look at moving to a busier barn at some point to make use of those kind of kids :)

      Delete
  3. Carmen is not that easy to catch. I don't know if she would be really difficult or not. I don't have advice but Dom might.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since you keep Carmen at home, does she get handled by other people much?

      Delete
  4. That's very "black stallion" of you guys :P I think if other people handled her (or gave her cookies sometimes...if you're into hand feeding) that would a huge help. Never know when you might need a hand with her or not be able to make it out for something. Is it usually men she's less keen on? Or is it men too? Apollo is afraid of pretty much every man he's met (except my husband) and I think there are some roots in his past related to that.

    ReplyDelete