Month: October 2015
Sometimes when everything is going so well, life throws you a curve ball. I had a big one tossed in my direction last Sunday.
Every year after the last cutting and first good frost, the herd goes out on the hay fields for a few months. We were asked if we wanted our horses out with them. Why not. TJ can use some extra weight before winter and the rest of their little herd were going out. Our two didn’t need to be the only ones not going. It’s shouldn’t be a problem for 2 hours at a time with 14 horses on a 12 acre hay field. We put ours out and stood there for awhile to make sure there really weren’t any problems. A bit of running, a few squeals and everyone settled down to eat. As far as I know TJ had never been turned out with that many horses, but he was doing well.
We didn’t make it down to the barn during the week and had a previous commitment on Saturday. Sunday was slightly cooler than it had been and a little in the windy side, but the sun was out and it a beautiful day. I was looking forward to an enjoyable day riding. We arrived at the barn and hiked out to the field to get the horses. TJ walked with me for a bit and stopped. Walked more and stopped. I expected him to be somewhat unwilling to leave all that grass. We got back to the barn and started grooming. We usually ground tie outside to groom and tack up on nice days. Then the curve ball hit me. TJ and one of the mares were calling each other. He wouldn’t stand still and almost ran me over so he could see the other horses. I rep remanded him with 1 smack in the chest with the lead that convinced him to behave for less than 5 minutes. He was reprimanded a few more times since he kept trying to go thru me to see the horses in the field. His behavior made it take forever to get him groomed and tacked. We were finally ready to ride, or so I thought. Once we were in the ring and he could see his new found buddies, he was worse. He concentrated on the instead of me. Another 20 minutes of walking him to make sure he wasn’t going to be an idiot I was finally on. I decided on slow work where he had to focus on what I was asking instead of what was going on in the field. Our ride was about 30 minutes. I untacked and brushed the saddle marks. TJ was acting like he was afraid of me. I didn’t come anywhere close to hurting him when I smacked him, but I guess having to do it several times set him back. I tried to rub on him to reassure him, but I wasn’t allowed. We gave treats and put them back in the pasture. TJ immediately ran over to take his mares back from one of the other geldings. All was well in his world again. All the work I put into trying to gain his trust in almost 10 months was gone in a half hour. He was more mentally fragile than I thought.
I went down last night not only to see where I stood with him, but to work on letting him know he could be taken from his mares and go back to them when we were finished. Although he didn’t willingly come to me, I had no problem catching him once I actually found him in that huge field. I was allowed to brush him, but no cuddles. He was a good boy and stood ground tied while I groomed him. I rubbed his neck and talked to him. He finally gave in and started to cuddle with me. He put his muzzle on my cheek several times and then his head over my shoulder. We went for a little walk. Just far enough he couldn’t see th herd and he was fine. All was good again with he and I. We gave apples and put them back out. We watched them for a bit and I was petting a few of the other horses that came over to visit. Just as we were about to leave Charlie yelled out to us that he was bringing them in for the night because of the storms. Greg halter end Koko to keep her out of the stampede. I opened the gate to the chute, sent a few horses down and got out to the way. TJ went blasting down the chute with the rest of the herd and into the smaller pasture by the barn. I got there just in time to see him cantering around and bucking. As they started to settle, Greg went out to get TJ. He was having too much fun and was having no part of being caught. He bucked more and carried on. Greg just stood there watching. We saw slides, rollbacks and spins that would have done a reiner proud. To complete his stunts, he reared straight up, did a 180 on his hind legs and hit the ground at a gallop without missing a beat. We were both stunned. All of this from a horse that couldn’t walk without a severe limp and could barely turn 10 months ago. I think he’s feeling much better!
For one reason or another we haven’t been able to trailer out for a nice trail ride in Green Lane. In an effort to find something to do other than ring work (have I mentioned how much I hate ring work?), I was kicking around the idea of entering the last gymkhana of the season. It was a makeup show, mid October and there was a few other things going on that day so turnout should be fairly light. I’ve always loved gymkhanas and it would give TJ something new that didn’t involve trailering out. I purposely made sure we were at all of the gymkhanas to ride around and get him used to a show situation where he wasn’t abused. Every month he was more at ease than the previous month, but he never totally relaxed.
After a long week gymkhana day arrived. It was suddenly unseasonably cold and very windy. Temps felt like they were in the mid 40’s. I decided to take several coats in case my first choice wasn’t warm enough. We headed out to the barn with a back seat piled with what seemed like half of my colder weather coats. Given how flighty TJ is in the wind, it wasn’t the ideal situation for something new and a situation he was normally a bit unsettled in. My plans of all 8 classes were cut down to 3 since I was frozen before it started. I tried riding him around like I always did, but he was mistaking my shivering for being nervous so it just made him worse. I decided to stay off of him until it was our turn.
Class 3 came up pretty fast. Criss Cross – We were next so it was time to climb on and get ready. As we waited at the gate, he was bouncing and just wouldn’t stand still. Poor TJ had no idea what was going on, but he was sure he didn’t want to go in the ring at a horse show. The gate opened and we headed in the ring. He was over collecting himself and chewing the bit. “It’s ok TJ. It’s not what you think. You can do this.” I let him go at whatever speed he wanted. The horse I couldn’t get to do anything except canter the day before and the prior few weeks suddenly decided a nice little western jog was suitable. We made it thru our first class at TJ’s first gymkhana. Next up, Keyhole. Still doing his little jog toward the other end of the ring and refusing to go faster, the horse eating cones were quickly approaching. He looked at them, decided it was ok to walk thru them if I said it was and gave me a little bit of a hard time turning around. He started to relax a bit on the way back and picked up at little canter. More rubs and reassuring on the way out. Our last class was pole bending. He chose to trot the entire pattern. Still nervous and chewing the bit, but he did it.
I was so proud of him that day. Despite the cold, the wind, my shivering and his nervousness, he was an absolute angel. He trusted me enough to take him (someplace he was sure he did not want to be) in the ring 3 times and let me guide him thru the patterns. The day ended with quite a few hugs, rubs, extra treats and 3 ribbons. It’s ok that there were only 5 in each class, I was thrilled with his willingness and try.
My husband & his little Rocky mare Koko did great. A second and 2 thirds. He was beaten by a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred. Not bad for a 13.2h gaited horse that’s not built to turn fast!
To everyone who has owned, trained or known TJS The Bomb;
I’ve emailed and Facebook messaged some of you, but never got a response. Because of TJ’s condition when he ended up at a kill sale (and the fact he ended up there), I realize this is probably a memory you’d like to leave in the past. I’m not looking to place blame, get people in trouble or publicly humiliate anyone. I’m looking for some background on his past so I can better help him for his future.
I’d like to get answers to the following questions. Please feel free to email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org. Responses will remain private.
- How was TJ injured and how long ago?
- Did a vet look at him and give a diagnosis? If so, what was it?
- Why in the world does he keep turning his head to the right when we’re moving forward?
As some of you may be aware, TJ also has a Facebook page, a Twitter page and a YouTube page. He’s developed a nice following thru social media that are interested in his recovery. When I do find answers to my questions, all of his social media pages will focus on how he’s doing instead of searching for answers.
I’m asking anyone that reads this post to please share with everyone you know in the horse industry. There has to be someone that knows him and is willing to come forward. Thank you!
#TJSTheBomb #CleveWells #PattiAHamlin #Kristine Reuvers #TX #Texas #MN #Minnesota #NJ #NewJersey #Camelot #AGoodMachine #AQHA #ImpulsiveLilLena