I have left everyone hanging. A lot has happened with the MerryLegs saga, and I posted it on my Blogger Blog, but not here.  I will get you all up to date.

The Decision

There was no way I could get back on MerryLegs’—the fear was too much, so I realized I had to get help. There is a very good trainer who works at the stables next to us. I contacted her, explained my situation and she agreed to help.

The big day came. It was 3 weeks after the “incident.” I walked MerryLegs over to their barn, and we took him to the round pen. Kevin came with me. Ellen couldn’t bear to watch. The trainer started by getting to know Merrylegs with a little ground work—stop, go, move over. She then announced she would try riding him.

I helped her up and got out of the way. She walked him around in small circles in each direction and all went well—for about 2 minutes. He simply exploded. She was off him on the third buck—and in that moment, I made a decision. It was over between us. Regardless what happened, I could never trust him, again.

As she dusted herself off, she said, “Wow, I didn’t see that one coming. Very explosive.”

Just like when I rode him, the bucks were sudden, multiple and very, very fast. There was simply no warning—which is really strange. Horses usually will give you some sort of warning. When it happened to me, I thought I might have missed the warning, but I didn’t see one when I was watching, either.

The trainer wasn’t hurt beyond some bruises, fortunately. She didn’t want to continue training him in the future, of course, because she trains horses for a living—she couldn’t get hurt. She told me that probably something in his previous training was affecting his behavior—and it was not likely anything that I did. She didn’t think it was saddle fit, since he had hardly been ridden enough to get a sore back. There might be some other physical problem, but it was unlikely at his age. She said she started a lot of young horses in her life, and she never encountered anything like this, before. Maybe a person experienced with problem horses would be best for him.

I saw Ellen wandering our direction, and I met her with the bad news. She agreed with me that he just wasn’t worth the risk for us to try to fix. She hated the thought of me riding him, and she would never ride him, either.

I have contacted the previous owner and offered to give him back—I would pay for shipping, too. I am still waiting for a decision from her. In the meantime, we are just going to do ground work.

If a trainer can fix him—and probably he can be fixed—he just needs to know that bucking is futile—I just don’t think I can ever ride him. After all, he was supposed to be a trail horse. Bad enough if he has a tantrum and bucks me off—even worse if it is 5 miles from home.

Also, I would be afraid to ever push him to hard. What if he decides he doesn’t want to go forward—do I kick him and risk him going airborne? If that is in my head, how can I effectively train him to be obedient? Clicker training can’t solve everything. It certainly can’t take the fear out of my brain.

I confess that my decision is based on my fear. It is no secret that I am not a bold, fearless rider—I never have been. I have had problems with fear before, and it’s no fun. This time, I have something real and solid to be afraid of.

He had 2 bucking fits in the past. Once was on the lounge line—and I just held him in place until he stopped. The second was on the lead line when I got frustrated and tapped him too hard to go forward. I did the same thing—held him in place until he stopped. He never tried it again. I think that may be how he would react with a rider that didn’t fall off—but it just can’t be me.

It was so much like a fairy tale, and now it is over. I just hope I can find a “happily ever after” for this.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on October 12, 2015 at 8:22pm

I am so sorry it ended this way.

I do not blame you at all.  I could never ride a chronic "surprise" bucker either.

No training method can really fix every horse, though the old "horse tamers" like Riley, Beery, etc. may have come close, but I often have wondered about their methods.  I am certainly not stable enough on my feet to do their methods, heck, I am too unstable on my feet to train anyway.  I have read what you say about the clicker training, it sounds like an amazing tool, too bad it didn't work for this one horse's problems.

May your present horses fill the hole in your life, and may your next new horse be perfection.

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