Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesdays with Tex: Wrecks

Teresa discovered some history on her mare, Carmen, that helped her understand her horse's behavior.   You can follow their journey on her blog, Journey with a Dancing Horse.  There was an incident, under saddle, with a previous owner.  As a result, Carmen lost confidence and was afraid when she was ridden.  Knowing the "why" behind the behavior has been a tremendous gift to Teresa and it got me to thinking about Tex.

Tex is the opposite of Carmen.  He is rock solid under saddle; he has never spooked or flinched or trembled.  He feels and looks confident; happy even.  But Tex is nervous and reactive on the ground.  We believe he was abused, because he is so head-shy.  But I also think he was in some kind of horrible accident and I think it happened when he wasn't being ridden, but was being worked with on the ground.  Tex has a long scar that wraps from his shoulder, across his chest, and down his leg where it disappears into a quarter crack on his front hoof.  He was mostly likely tangled in wire; possibly barbed wire.
Can you see the wavy scar about 3/4 from the top of the photo?  It starts just below, and in front of, the 5 brand and then travels down his right leg.

I remember when I was lunging him over a month ago and asked him to canter -- and he panicked and ran off.  Lunging makes him nervous to start with, he has a difficult time relaxing.  And when I stepped towards him in a deliberate way to ask for canter, he lost it.  Literally.  Bye-bye brain.  He took off at a dead run with the lunge line streaming behind him and didn't stop until he was far, far away and close to Flash - who was standing in their pasture, near the fence, watching.  Tex's reaction caught me off guard and I was not able to react and stay with him.

I will never know exactly what happened to make Tex this way, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was pressured beyond his capacity to cope, with someone on the ground, and he fled -- right into a wire fence.

Maybe my story is accurate, and maybe it isn't, -- and maybe it doesn't matter exactly what happened.  But, it helps me understand, and have compassion, for Tex's fear.


  1. I'd guess barbed wire by the description. I had a friend who grew up on a cattle ranch and her filly ran into barbed wire and cut her throat open and died. I had a colt who cut his chest on barbed wire as well--back in the 80's, when there was so much of it--but his was only about 3 or 4 inches. I think you can tell a lot about their history of trauma by how they react--so you're probably right. Cowboy used to always get defensive like I was going to hit him whenever I tied him up. I found out his first owner who got him in a divorce, didn't know anything about horses, didn't geld him, and would tie him up to discipline him. He also used a stud chain to lead him--and was really aggressive on his face. Trust your instincts.

  2. I agree that the canter triggered something. I love how you are working through it with him.

    Learning Carmen's story (or a piece of it) has really helped me understand her and that gives me more confidence.

  3. wow, very interesting and such good observations on your part.

  4. An American in TokyoJune 29, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    Omigosh! That scar looks awful!
    I'm glad that he has you now, so that you can hopefully help him work out things.
    Please give him an extra treat from me! hee hee!

  5. Poor Tex. It's so nice for him that you're taking the time to reassure him that all humans aren't abusive. You might be right in your thinking about what happened to him. It sounds reasonable and that scar could be a clue.

    We have the same sort of problem with our Donnie. I wish I knew what happened to him before he came to us. He's gotten much better over the years but no one really wants to try and ride him anymore because he's such a wild card and one of us could get badly hurt. He just doesn't like being saddled and ridden and will lose his mind with no provocation and buck and carry on. He's much better about his head shyness now though. I feel so bad for him because he is the sweetest, friendliest and most sensitive horse in the barn. So I try to give him a little work on the longe and with the clicker so he has a job and feels good about himself.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. I discovered by accident that Red is deathly afraid of lunge whips - not the object itself, but the use of one, particularly if it is snapped. He's gotten so he can now tolerate someone using a lunge whip to lunge another horse while he's in the arena, so long as they don't snap it - if they do he loses his mind. That's big progress for him. I'm actually glad I don't know what happened to him - if I did I'd feel worse - his prior owner did say that he'd been "aggressively round-penned" before she got him - I hate to even think about what that involved. I just deal with what we have. Some of these traumas (like Arlene's Donnie) never go away, some get better with time and good handling. And they're often very specific - Red's fine with me riding him while carrying a dressage whip.

  7. Oak has some big scars and some big fears just like Tex. He came from an auction with no history... I wish there was a way we could find out what happened to them!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.