Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blind to the Obvious

There is a man were I board that came to LA's place a few months before me.  Wade is about my age, was new to riding and a first time horse owner.  He basically inherited his horse, an Arabian, from his daughter who wanted to sell the horse so she could buy a car.  He bought the horse, she got her car.  Wade signed up for lessons with LA.

This horse looks very similar to Dar.
Dar is handsome, hot and fast....and unpredictable.  He requires an experienced rider.  That's not what Wade is.  In fact, after a few crazy incidents, LA told Wade that it would be better if he took some lessons on a school horse, so that he could concentrate on technique instead of trying to keep his horse under control during lesson.  That worked for a while.  Wade learned some stuff and "practiced" on Dar.  He eventually decided that he didn't need lessons and started riding by himself.  Dar's unpredictable behaviour never stopped Wade from riding; he never seemed concerned or worried.  Ignorance is bliss???

Even as a newbie rider, when Wade joined me in the front paddock when I first partnered up with Gem, I could see that he was in trouble.  Wade had no balance.  When he posted trot, he would fall forward on to Dar's neck.  When he loped, he bounced up and down hard in the saddle (we would all cringe watching him), his feet shoved all the way into the stirrups, toes pointed down.  Now, we have all been there.  In fact, I still have a hard time keeping my hands positioned and my butt in the saddle when I lope.  But, my balance has improved a great deal over the last couple of years.  Wade's not so much.  He still rides the exact same way.  LA has tried to give him pointers, to no avail.  Dar actually has regular chiro appointments for his back.  I would have thought that this might have been an indication that Wade's riding technique needed to change, but his take on the situation was to get a new saddle to correct the problem - it hasn't.

Going on trail rides with Wade/Dar is a challenge.  Wade doesn't see that his horse is a potential danger to himself and to others.  We are nervous to ride with him because he does not have control of Dar.  And, he has done nothing to correct the situation.  Dar has bucked, he has kicked at other horses and he has taken off on Wade.  Wade has cut trail rides short because he felt that Dar was becoming "bored" (aka uncontrollable) and that was why he's misbehaving.  Really, Wade?  He doesn't ride with us often - usually he rides in the morning - but when he does, my anxiety level increases.

Many times, Wade has readily admitted that he had to dismount Dar while riding out in the fields because Dar became unmanageable.  In Wade's mind, this is Dar's personality; he is how he is.  Dar threw Wade last Fall when they were out on the trails alone, breaking Wade's collar bone.  Fortunately, there was a boarder bringing her horse in from the fields and she came upon Wade and helped him back to the barn.  Wade now has a couple of screws holding his collar bone together.

This past winter, Wade decided that Dar was going to be an endurance horse.  Wade felt that as an Arabian, Dar would excel in this.  When no other riders would go out in the fields because of the conditions, Wade rode Dar in the snow to build muscle, with total disregard for Dar's safety (ice layers underneath the snow).  He bought boots for Dar and now rides him up and down the dirt road in front of LA's property.  This dirt road is actually a road connecting two main roads.  There are many homes on this dirt road.   Traffic isn't heavy, but it is regular.  Another boarder was driving to the barn the other day and saw Wade and Dar on the road.  She said watching the two of them terrified her; Wade did not look like he had complete control and she was waiting for Dar to take off as she slowly passed them.

Oh, I forgot to mention.  Wade DOESN'T WEAR A HELMET.

I bumped into Wade the other day and he was excitedly telling me of his first endurance race in June; a small regional competition.   As he was describing the event, all I could think of was how was Dar going to react to loping with a bunch of other competitors when he couldn't even go on a relaxed trail ride here without acting up.  I asked Wade if he had a safety, but he thought he might have to as part of the mandatory riding equipment.  Whew.

In Wade's mind, Dar's bad behaviour is nothing more than him being bored because he's a performance horse.  How can bucking and taking off be accepted as the norm?  How can you let your horse buck you off and not take that as a wake up call?   How can you think it is acceptable to ride your horse on the road, risking the safety of rider/horse and those in vehicles, when you have admitted that he can be uncontrollable?  How can you think it is completely acceptable to ride this unmanageable horse, WITHOUT A HELMET?  Where is the common sense?  How can Wade not see that his relationship with Dar is an accident waiting to happen?  Is it stupidity?  Is it a case of ignorance is bliss?  Is it because Wade has no reference, i.e. he rarely rides with anyone so he doesn't see how it should be?

I have seen Wade's daughter ride Dar, when Wade was off due to his collar bone injury.  She's an experienced rider; Dar looked pretty good.   In my mind, Wade needs to step up and do what is right for Dar.  It can't be easy on Dar, having a rider that can't communicate properly and can't sit in the saddle.  I have to wonder if Dar's bad behaviour (because he knows he can get away with it) is exaggerated by this kind of frustration and lack of leadership.  Wade needs to have some lessons to learn how to be a safe rider and better leader, Dar needs to go to boot camp to reestablish manners and reacquaint him with how it should be and then the two of them need to train together.   IMHO.....  :-)  Sadly, I have no idea how this can come about when the rider is oblivious.

Hope you are having a good week!