Friday, April 23, 2010


Friday April 23 2010

I failed.

I gave up on Kazam.

See Failure to Communicate. (And remember he broke my rib - although I still stand by my assessment that was a legitimate scare for him, and had I been able to stay on - he didn't buck, just leapt in fright - he wouldn't have gone anywhere.)

His main problem was his anxiety on the way home from a ride. For those of you used to jigging horses, thinking "My horse does that," this was different from jigging. I've ridden jigging horses. With Kazam, there was an underlying anxiety/panic there that was more than just jigging. I tried a few things - heading him up the hardest hill (didn't work), taking him on handwalks, getting off when riding and walking him at random times (which helped a bit), leaving him tied up when we got home, working him harder at home so being out on the trail would be easier and pleasanter. Any of these might have worked if I'd kept it up and been consistent.

I could have tried more things - ride him out 50 miles one direction, haul him away from home to ride so he wouldn't have anywhere to get back to, as soon as he started getting anxious heading for home turn him around and continue going out out, etc... but I didn't.

I lost enthusiasm; I got depressed with the thought of having to work with a horse that kept showing little or no improvement; and if I had to miss a few days of riding, we always had to take a few backward steps to start things again. And if I was not in the right frame of mind to work a problem horse, I was not going to communicate well with him - I wouldn't be positive or be the alpha leader he needed.

I came to admit that, as much as loved Kazam and as much as I wanted to be able to 'fix' and ride him, I was not the person who could get him over his problem. Sometimes a person and a horse don't click, as much as you want it to happen. Sometimes horses just aren't suited for the work you have planned for them. And since my job is not really a Horse Trainer (I loosely label myself a Horse Conditioner who does some training), I gave up.

Steph gave him to the neighbors to work with and sell. We all figured Rick could get him over his problem - sometimes it just takes a different rider, sometimes it takes a man who's heavier and just has a different approach to riding; and Rick has handled plenty of horses with problems.

Rick took him out a few times and they did well; then one day out on the trail, out of the blue, no warning, Kazam bucked hard, threw Rick flying high, and he took off running towards home.

Rick walked back home, got right back on Kazam, and took him right back out. Things were going fine again out on the trail again and the exact same thing happened. No warning, hard buck, Rick flew, Kazam ran home. Rick walked a long way back home, and was going to get right back on Kazam and take him right back out, but Carol called up the neighbor cowboy and said, Come pick up a free horse if you want him. And Kazam was gone within the hour. He'll probably (hopefully) be put right to work on a ranch or the stockyards. That's what I hope, anyway. Work him hard. Wear his butt out. Make him too tired to buck and give him no place he wants to run home to.

This story is my catharsis - it took me a while to face my guilt and be able to write it... but it won't keep me from always feeling guilty. I didn't try my hardest with Kazam - and there you have it - I just didn't. I feel bad for Kazam; I feel sad for his brother Jose who enjoyed having him around. I feel bad. My biggest fear is a horse I love ending up in a bad home or in the kill pens (one of the main reasons I quit the racetrack), and this possibility - for yet another horse I've known and loved - will always be on my conscience.... along with all the others.

Steph and Carol both cut their losses... I guess I did mine too, seeing that eventually another broken rib or broken something else could have been in my future with Kazam.

I failed in 'fixing' Kazam, but I guess the moral of the story is, I'm not that bad a rider - it wasn't just me, it was him.

Doesn't make me feel all that much better about the outcome, though.


  1. Sometimes, no matter how much we want to, we just don't have the answers for a particular horse. Maybe a horse like Kazam would do well only being ridden in an arena. Who knows? There's no shame in admitting defeat. I'm seriously considering whether I'm the right person for Chickory.I'm not sure yet. I'll give it a little longer, but my heart isn't in it. I don't want to get hurt. I am at the point where I only want to train the easier horses, and leave the tough ones for some youngster with fire in his heart. Know anyone like that who wants a cutting horse prospect?

  2. I think you were right to give up - I don't think we have to do everything, or take risks we're not comfortable taking - there are horses that are very difficult to work with and that doesn't mean that we should feel obliged to work with them. I have struggled with some of these issues myself, and believe me, I understand.

  3. Sometimes things just don't work out the way we want them to. I hope Kazam has found a good home where they can work with him and he turns the corner for them. We had a horse who would just buck you off for no reason once in a while. We finally found out after years of researching his problems that he had pssm and that's why he was so girthy and didn't like it when the girth pinched him and he would buck. Thank goodness none of us was hurt like you were.

  4. Not every horse is for everybody. You in actuality, probably "released" him to be able to connect with the right person and the right job on down the road. If every horse worked for every person, we'd not be able to afford the hundreds of horses us horse lovers would have...

  5. Been there, done that, I feel your pain. I still feel guilty about a horse I gave up on 10 years ago. It wasn't a good match, I would feel sick going to the barn and cry all the way home. I sent him to a trainer to sell and I think he went to a good home, but I don't know what happened to him after that. Sigh.
    SusanB in TX

  6. We have two horses who cannot be safely ridden in the desert but who can be ridden in the countryside. I keep them, however, because there really is no alternative. Hopefully, things will work out for Kazam.

  7. I understand. I have a horse who has panic attacks. I realized I either kept him, or euthanized him because his problems might lead to him being abused. I honestly believe my horse is autistic, and I am doing clicker training with him only on the ground right now. I don't know if I will ever ride him again, but at least I have another riding horse. Some horses are just not "right in the mind".

  8. I had an arab gelding like this many years ago. He split my head open by jumping on top of me in the trailer while backing out and also fractured my nose and a couple of ribs when we were riding at a walk in the pasture. He would explode on a ride - no warning - nothing scary on the trail. I did my best, but a great friend and natural ... See Morehorsemanship trainer encouraged me to sell him before he killed me. I felt like a failure, but I did sell him. He went through a couple of homes and ended up as a mock "jousting" horse at the local Renaissance Festival. He loved it and did great there for years. I wished him well, but I don't miss him and I love my current mare and gelding so much!!

  9. I'm sorry Merri, that is hard to deal with. My old soul companion, Habod, went through a stage of that, but he got over it in a few weeks. Back then I had the drive and desire to do what "he" needed done and it paid off in spades. Sometimes it is SAFER to just step away from the sitution. Habod did not buck or bolt. We do need to look out for "us... See More", no "us" to go play with and it just won't matter what kind of horse you have. A destroyed body, mind or worse does need to be weighed strongly against the "what" we are wanting to deal with. Hugs to you.

  10. People that never fail at anyting don't accomplsih much either.

  11. Merri it is not a failure on your part if you learned something. He sounds dangerous to me so it sounds like he is where he belongs & not your problem so long as the new owner is aware he is dangerous you did the best you could by the horse.

  12. Buena caminata, dale descanso a Jose. Saludos de Gabriel.

  13. You can't save them all. I think you gave Kazam a fair shake - not 100% of your energy and ability, but a fair try. You didn't do anything wrong.

    And it's incredibly hard to describe it to others when a horse just "checks out" mentally. There are things that Dixie just checks out about - lunging, for instance. She just shuts down mentally and no one can work with her. If she couldn't handle trail riding alone.... I'd have some really tough decisions to make. Nobody can fault you for your decisions.

  14. I am at a spot where I need to make some tough decisions and thin our herd out a bit. I sympathize with you.

  15. I gave up on him First.. My problem with him was not the riding because he always did well, but it was more the trailer and trailering. I really hope he can find his life time home. I think he is a great horse and will make someone very happy.I'm glad you gave him the time to become a great horse. Thank You

  16. Thank you for sharing. I have a couple of posts already written that are just sitting on my desktop. I wrote them and that makes some of the guilt feel better, but I'm not quite ready to post.....Thank you fro sharing such a hard thing.

  17. Merri, I'm sorry to hear about Kazam, but don't beat yourself up too hard. He wasn't your horse. It wasn't your job. I hope your guilt fades quickly and the lessons you learned with Kazam can help another horse be more successful.

  18. Merri, thank you so much for pointing me to this blog entry. I was so horrified to hear what he did after you gave him up. That could have been you, and you knew it.

    Isn't it odd that we both named our posts the same thing?

    It's also comforting to me to hear what your commenters have said - that some horses just need different jobs. You and I love the miles out there together, and some horses just seem to prefer walls. Odd.

    BTW, I think you're right about the getting off and leading on the way home---that really seemed to help both Baasha and Tolima, because I enforced the "Follow me and don't you dare try to pass!" rule. They had to just sigh and give it up. But riding would have been nice...

    Thanks again,