Don't panic. I don't actually know who you are, but I can see what you Googled in order to land here.
So far no one has Googled elephants, but Fluphenazine is a frequently used search word. But if you'll remember the Fluphenazine posts from the winter, you'll know that my elephant was large and in charge. I thought it was time to do an update.
On January 5, 2011, Sydney received a 5 cc IM dose of Fluphenazine to help lessen his anxiety. Sydney did not demonstrate any negative side effects after the injection. I am not sure that the Fluphenazine did anything for him, but it certainly helped my anxiety level! Just knowing that it should have a positive effect on him helped me to relax which in turn helped him to relax.
For a couple of months things seemed to be going well. By March however, it was clear that Sydney's anxiety about contact was still present and growing. Welcome back Mr. Elephant. As Sydney's anxiety grew, my elephant got bigger and more powerful until I was petrified with fear. It took every ounce of courage to get on Sydney. His bolting and rearing got so bad that I quit taking him to lessons and very seriously considered selling him.
My husband is pretty supportive about the whole horse thing and recognizes that it is a need that I have to fill. When I told him that I thought I should sell Sydney, he looked at me and asked why I was giving up on this horse when I hadn't given up on any of the others. He reminded me of how difficult each one had been. He suggested I keep trying and give Sydney through the summer.
I thought it over and realized he was right. Since I really didn't want to get hurt, I couldn't keep doing what I was doing. While watching Sydney during turnout one afternoon, I had a moment of inspiration. He was trotting around happily and seemed to be enjoying himself. I decided that that's how I would ride him: a long rein at a trot that wandered aimlessly around the arena.
Thank goodness for inspiration. Things have done nothing but improve steadily since that day. He hasn't reared or bolted since March. I have learned that I must start out at a nice walk on the buckle. As long as I shorten my rein slowly with lots of gentle sponging of the reins, Sydney doesn't mind the contact. We can now trot anywhere in the arena that I want to and as long as I keep a soft, steady contact, Sydney's ears flop happily from side to side.
We had a lesson last week and JL was very pleased with what I was able to accomplish on my own. Her directives are to continue the long and low work that I am doing while adding lots of half circles, serpentines, and random circles.
My elephant seems to have found a new home. He hasn't sent his new address, and frankly, I don't want to know it. When I ride now, I am nothing but smiles and find myself saying, that was fun! Sydney is now fun to ride. There's very little tension left in his body, and he's actually behind my leg (which sounds like a bad thing, I know). I have to bump-bump-bump him with my leg to get him going forward. I rode on Tuesday and was so happy to be able to trot around anywhere in the arena I wanted to go without worrying that he might bolt or rear.
Elephants and Fluphenazine ... glad to be rid of the first one, and don't think we need the second one. Here's to relaxed and floppy ears!