Monday, April 21, 2008

Purcellville, Virginia

I am full of doubt.

During this trip, Brego has turned into a fire-breathing monster. The old Brego was always a handful, but when he resisted, and that was often, it was with a headshake and an angry look. The new Brego resists by Levade and Capriole. I am not excited about this development.

We had an early start leaving Nashville and since it was going to be a 12 hour day, I hand walked Brego before he got on the trailer. He had been stalled pretty much non-stop for a week at this point, between training, the trailer, and our overnight stays. He was busting at the seams and had a hard look in his eye.

When I asked him to trot beside me in the 5 am dark, he exploded -- jumping, rearing, squealing. I immediately corrected him and made him back out my space, but it was ugly. I then longed him around me by his halter and leadrope, asking for walk to trot to walk transitions over and over. A few more bucks and he started to listen. Even through his freak out, he never took the slack out of the lead rope. He maintained a perfect 7' circle around me, head at vertical, really lovely. Too bad he was being a shit.

When I sensed him start to realize I was sans whip and gloves, I asked for a halt and we went back to hand walking. I was not about to let him find out I had brought nothing to this fight. We ended the mini training session with another trot in hand and this time he pinned his ears, but remained silent.

The most troubling thing about all this is the aggression. Brego has always tested, always been 20% resistant to work, always shown his anger at being put in place. He's a dominant horse who obeys, but not always willingly. He's not a labrador who lives to please. He enjoys being a good boy but at his convenience. Although I am a lazy person, I have a strong enough will to work through these issues with him, so they never distract from our relationship.

But this new behavior is not his usual game. It's bigger and more powerful and much more dangerous. I find myself never taking my eye off him, never relaxing, and that's not what I want or need. I don't need a full blooded dressage horse who is always on the edge of brilliance or disaster. I need a horse I can spend my days with and has moments of occasional brilliance.

I think the dressage training has not only tuned him up, but fried him a little. It's a lot of work to do in a short 6 weeks for a basic pasture puff. He's moving incredibly for him, but he seems distant and angry. He's not talking to me at all.

We are stopping for two days in Purcellville, Virginia, near Middleburg (the heartland of eventing in the US). He and Hobby will hang out in private, lush pasture on one of the most gorgeous farms I have ever seen and get some much needed down time. When he got off the trailer, after a 12 hour ride, he ran the field, bucking and farting for 45 minutes. I was afraid he was going to charge the fences, but he stayed contained... barely. Again, not my Brego. But maybe some time to burn off steam will ease his brain.

I hope so, this reunion has not been a lot of fun.


Anonymous said...

Stupid question...but were you the one driving him to your new New England home? I will be very impressed if the answer is yes because I think most people (myself included) would get a professional shipper. Reading your updates though I don't think you did.

Daun said...

Yep, I drove both Brego and Hobby from Texas to Maine in 8 days. I am glad I didn't use a pro shipper, though because I was able to stop every other day and give them a full day's rest. Plus, I also got to ride in some beautiful parts of the country!

rachel! said...

Maybe he's also mad at you for the time apart? I had an enforced week off from the barn after getting Lasik, and the first day I came back Everett let me know he was pissed I'd been gone. Sounds like there are bigger changes in Brego, but hopefully things will settle down once he can get back into a routine with you.

MARGIE said...

Hi Daun. I have a hunch that your guy just needs a little down time. If you're an A type personality and I really think you are by your posts, he may feel some stress from everything that he is being asked to deal with right now. I'm that way and I need to remember that my horses sometimes need time off from my "stuff". I'll be peeking in on your blog-it's interesting. I have a Clydesdale/Qh cross that looks like she is all Clydesdale that I'm working with. You have given me some hope that she can be a "real horse":)!. She was pulled out of the pasture last September and started into serious work in the last 30 days or so. She shows some ability for jumping so I'm working with an instructor and trying to get her conditioned. She is definitely showing more spunk and energy than she ever did before. She isn' naughty, but as she gets more fit, I'm sure she'll offer me some challenges.
I'll check back in with you. Have faith in your boy.

Beckz said...

Ok the whole 20% resistant thing is completely what I deal with with Fred but he wont go forward and EVERY day we have a massive fight and then he will work. It sounds like Brego needs some time to charge around the pasture and be a horse.

After the time apart you will need to reestablish that you are in charge unfortunately, he is testing you big time and with his new dressage muscles its a whole new ball game. I'm really sorry he has lost his sanity, because thats poart of the fun of the big horses, the whole I'm lazy and placid but I'll do that personality. I don't want to point fingers but how hard was the trainer on him?? Could she have created the real resentment he is showing towards you?

Daun said...

Thanks to all the supportive replies. I have posted today the update to the saga and it's all good news. Thanks for sticking with me through the trip!

I really love my trainer because she is not abusive. I just think that getting Brego to act talented, by dressage warmblood standards, might have been a lot to ask. He looks amazing, and if you're used to really nice dressage horses, you say "of course, he should look like that". But to get him that mentally on, I think takes a bit more out of him than a purpose bred horse.

But it appears I have once again become the omnipotent but lovable leader because Brego is really chatting me up and being a good boy. Yay!