From Endurance to Dressage
Bored yet? If you are just joining me, the Fluphenazine story has created somewhat of a stir. Not that I want to over-exaggerate the response. Somewhat might be too strong of a word! To read the first two posts, scroll down to find the By Topic area and click on the word Fluphenazine. That should get you caught up.
So how are things going? Well, I rode on Saturday morning with no Acepromazine and just two day's worth of the Fluphenazine. I am not sure it's completely active or not.
You know, maybe you need some more information first. I am not sure I've been really clear about how and when Sydney is anxious. Here's when he's NOT ever anxious: in his stall, in any barn-like area, at the vet hospital, in the cross ties being groomed, being saddled, having syringes put in his mouth, hand walking on the property, loading in the trailer, attempting to walk into the tack room because the cookie container lid was left open, standing in the wash rack, being tied to Speedy's stall while Speedy tries to bite his ears. Getting the picture? This is not a nervous horse. Sydney is very friendly and he's personable. He recently learned how to gently tug my jacket/vest zipper down. He loves to nibble my palms and sleeves - it's how he begs for treats.
Okaaaaay ... so when is he nervous? Where's the anxiety issue? Sydney gets anxious when he's alone and away from other horses. I have ridden around the neighborhood a few times. Sometimes he is really good, other times he gets very agitated. Most of the time he is well behaved during lessons at JL's, but other times he gets very agitated. In our home arena, he gets very agitated when I ride in the corner farthest from the barn. He's definitely agitated if I am nervous. There's no mystery there! In each of these instances, the melt downs will happen in places that he's been before, but he finds something upsetting. Sometimes it's the sprinklers, a loud car, a banging sound, or even nothing obvious to me, unless it is me.
So what does Sydney do that shows he's anxious, nervous or agitated? The first thing he does is stiffen his neck, but that's common in all tense horses. After that, he squeals, wrings his neck, and bolts sideways. If those maneuvers don't solve his problem, he pops up slightly, hops, and bolts again.
When I rode on Saturday morning, he tried a new trick which actually seemed to be calculated: he balked, big time. He flat out refused to move forward. I didn't like the tactic, but it was preferable to the sideways bolting.
If you've got a few minutes, here's a video of Sunday's ride:
So was the Fluphenazine working? I don't know, but this is the first time the naughty behavior had any calculated thought. In the last few months, the behavior wasn't as isolated to one spot like it seems to be now. He just bolted. What I liked about this ride was that he was thinking while he was nervous. I could tell that he was thinking, I don't want to be out here, and if I make that turn, I am going to be farther from the barn than I like. I'll just stop before we get to the turn. Eventually, it felt as though I had out-thought him. I could see it on his face. Rats, that didn't work! By the way, all of the banging and electric tool noise was coming from our barn - the direction he wanted to go toward!
Is this all over? No. My elephant, named Fear, is getting smaller each day. I'm not sure he was even in the arena at all on Sunday. Being relaxed myself will go a long way toward helping Sydney feel relaxed. Will the Fluphenazine help? I hope so. It certainly isn't making anything worse.
Note: I wrote this several days ago. There's more to the story. It should be in tomorrow's post. It's not bad, and there's no unwelcome news, just lots of deep thinking on my part and maybe a small admission.
1/11/2012 12:21:44 am
There is nothing worse then giving your horse everthing they need and want and getting naughty behavior in return. From what I see in that vidoe he has no respect for you when you are on his back. I didn't see pain, I didn't see fear I just see disrespectful behavior. Now what really supprised me was after all that disrespectful behavior it looks like you still gave him a treat after the ride. There should be no reward after a ride like that. Now with that being said I do not beleive in give treats to my horses, my praise is what they should be seeking not a food treat. I know that not everyone agrees with this but it is what works for me and my horses. Best of luck in getting this behavior figured out.
1/11/2012 11:10:58 am
I completely agree with Emily. He's got your number, and he's being disrespectful. I don't even see nervous, I just see "I don't wanna." He's being an ass and I also would not have given him a treat. When you have your lessons, does your trainer ever hop on? Ever thought about putting him with a less frightened, stronger rider for a month? It would be interesting to see if he has any big blow up and then relents or if he settles right away with someone else, although it sounds like he was never quiet enough to be a hunter so there is some history there, but that was in the past and this is now, a fresh start. It will be interesting to see how the fluphenazine works for him. My husband is an equine veterinarian and gives it to ropers, barrel racers and race track trainers starting babies, but I know he doesn't care to do it. Will be following your progress.
6/15/2012 04:07:51 pm
Would live to hear from Anda's veterinary husband re Fluphenazine. I'm a veterinarian in Marina Del Rey, CA.
6/15/2012 05:12:14 pm
Chuck, if you don't get a reply from Anda, please feel free to call my vet, Dr. Blanton @ 661-832-1150.
1/11/2012 06:45:19 am
I agree with Emily. Sounds like he is just being disrespectful. I have seen a lot of those behaviors from Yozo. He has shied from stupid stuff he's seen a million times too. It gets frustrating for sure. Even yesterday, he was just throwing his head and popping up off the ground repeatedly when asked to do basic stuff like trot forward and canter forward. Eventually, after enough persistence on my part, he figured out he might as well stop resisting. The whole game starts all over the next time I get on though and we start all over with him testing me and pretending to spook at things.
1/11/2012 11:27:16 am
You did an excellent job staying calm and quiet in the saddle. That was very interesting to watch. Thank you for sharing.
Granted I do not know the horse, but from that video it looks like he just has a reluctance to go forward. I do not want to come across like I'm telling you what you should do (when it comes to this, I find spoken word much better!), but I'd like to offer some advice and see if it helps. If he were my horse: I would try longeing for 5-10 min each direction prior to riding with a set of side reins (on the absolute longest notch and set low on the girth on each side) to get him in a forward mindset and loosen him up. Then, once riding start at a brisk rising trot on a very loose rein (don't worry about his head). For a time, when Liza was young, she was reluctant to move forward at a working speed and by folding in some of the above advice it really helped us get through that rough patch.
7/4/2013 11:04:40 am
I thought you did a great job. Noting wrong with the drug. I we t that route w my OTTB. I had similar concerns. I routinely gave treats. Food rewards are an industry standard when training animals. I found that the suppling exercises to be very helpful in helping my thoroughbred to relax.
7/5/2013 11:01:38 am
Hi Anni! What a difference a year and a half can make! Sydney and are both doing great now. He is sooooo relaxed at home that we do canter spirals both directions, and I even need spurs now. We've been showing Intro C and Training Level Test 1 this spring/summer and hope to move firmly into Training Level over the next few months. Thanks for the comments. :0) BTW, we didn't need to repeat the Fluphenazine.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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