Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Red Headed Step Child

I have had this post in my que for a bit and never posted it.  Last night Tank was on my schedule to ride but due to the time change it was too dark to ride when I got home from work and I lunged him in the dark instead.  Then this morning my farrier's assistant asked me if I even rode him anymore.  This question always shocks me.  Just because I don't show a horse much doesn't mean he is retired.

I feel like Tank is my red headed step child.  The forgotten one.  It makes me feel bad that people think he's retired.  It makes me feel worse when I dont get to ride him.   He is now 15 years old and I feel like he maybe never got a fair shot.   Here's the story of my red head.

Tank had impossible shoes to fill.  He was my next horse after Hobbs retired and that was a hard act to follow.  Hobbs was (is) amazing.  I showed him a solid 5 years all over the southeast in the High Adult Jumpers and we had a great show record.  When I had to retire him I quit riding for awhile.  It devastated me.  I went into a funk and really had no desire to ride.  Part of that was also due to us building our farm and the time we put into that.  One day when I went out to the barn my trainer convinced me to ride Tank who was at the barn as a sale horse.  He had the potential to do the A/O Jumpers and I was in love.  I went as far as vetting him until I reached my sanity (with the help of my S.O.) and realized there was no way I could take on a second horse while we were building our farm.  So I passed on him.  He was sent to a sale barn and I went into a deep funk.  I always wondered about him but never asked.  

About 5 months later I finally did. We were moved into our home and my barn was almost done.  He had not sold and apparently had started bucking people off so the sale barn didn't want him there anymore.  I said I was still interested and figured if it was meant to be it would work out.

One afternoon I was out to lunch with a colleague and I got a phone call from my trainer K.  She said Tank was back at her barn and had bucked everyone off at her place and the owner wanted him sold ASAP.  My barn had just been completed and I think I had Hobbs home for about a week.  I told her I would come out and ride him and if I stayed on I would proceed with buying him.  My husband was not happy, but he knew the day would come where I bought horse #2.

My trainer K had an outside trainer coming to ride Tank for her.  He had such jumping potential she thought about buying him herself and trying to fix his bucking.  When I got to the barn this trainer was leaving and told me he bucked her off again.  I got on him and rode without issue.  I rode him once more without issue and bought him.  The first week after I brought him home he bucked me off twice.

I worked hard with him and quickly figured out what was causing him to buck and then worked to correct it.  Then  we started showing. 

We had highs and lows.  We never really got consistent which kept us from moving into the A/Os.  The inconsistency left me frustrated and I started showing less.  It was challenging to go from a consistent winner to a horse that needed me to instill confidence in him instead of the other way around.  I can handle losing but watch others celebrate beating me was tough.  I will always remember watching a girl's mother cry because her daughter beat me in a big class.  Really.  There were other incidents and I shouldn't have let them bother me but they did.  Soon showing was no longer fun and I wasn't able to instill in Tank the confidence he needed.  Actually, that we BOTH needed.

I feel like Tank never got a fair shot.  Or maybe I gave him his only shot?  I don't know.  I try to ride him as much as time allows.  He is such a cool horse.  He is a love bug and total sweet heart.  He is tall, thick, and all muscle.  Built like a tank.  The key to him is correct riding.  He gets annoyed with bad riding (dont we all?).  Don't pull on his face, land on his neck, ask him to leave a stride out, etc.  Not a hard wish list.  Probably one I would ask for if I were a horse.

Along came Poppy and after a tough go in the beginning I developed a bond with her that reminded me of the one I had with Hobbs.  The one I never could quite find with Tank.  And he soon took a back seat.  At least horse show wise.  Though I know he is sad when he doesn't get on the trailer with Poppy I try and give him attention and let him know I love him just as much.  If only we could have it all right?


  1. I think some horses, like some riders, don't enjoying showing as much as others. Kind of like standard tests: some kids who are super smart suck at standardized tests -- it doesn't make them any less intelligent, just not good at taking those types of tests.

    Maybe Tank doesn't like standardized testing?

    1. Yes I think that is partly it. He and I are a lot alike. Like a typical amateur sometimes I will go in the ring and lay down a nice round. Sometimes I go in and ride like I started riding a week ago. He's the same way. He let's stuff get in his cute head.

  2. I think he should just be happy he ended up with you who tries to ride him well and keeps him fat and happy even if he never got consistent :)

  3. He's lucky that he has you!

    Out of curiosity, what was causing him to buck?

    1. Bucking is the only way I can think of the describe it, but what he would actually do is as he was landing off a jump and his rider was in 2 point he would drop his head and stop causing the rider to fly off. After falling off a couple times I would lunge him before I rode. One day I lunged him in his tack and tied the reins in a big knot. They bounced on his neck and down when his head dumping the reins. The best I can figure is that he didn't like anyone laying on his neck or ducking. He has a big jump and people tend to lay low on those horses. I learned to just stay off his neck and if we had an"oops" jumps I would brace my self and get his head up on landing. He has not done it in 6 years.