Went to the barn with the intention of grooming Casey yesterday and just hanging out. Doodle is here on spring break, so I took her with me. She’s been intimidated by horses since her mom’s old Arab bucked her off a couple years ago. (Disney Princess is now horse-less. And her Arab was old and he was continuously stalled and only worked or out on a rare occasion- any wonder he was naughty?)
I figured that Casey would be good for boosting Doodle’s confidence as he’s usually gentle as a kitten. Boy, was I wrong!
Within 3 minutes of being in the cross-ties, Casey exploded. He pulled back so hard he sat his butt down on the concrete. Then he jumped forward and flipped around so he was in the opposite direction. In the process, he whacked into the stall next to us, where the stall had apparently not been latched by whomever fed that morning. So, that stall door slid open! Luckily, that horse didn’t decide to take a jaunt during all the commotion. Casey continued to pull back and showed his teeth to me when I tried to release the panic snaps. So, I just stepped back and waited for him to calm. Casey calmed down after a minute or two and righted himself and acted like nothing had happened. I let him just stand in the cross ties for about 5 minutes while I talked to Doodle about what happened. From there, I closed the open stall door and latched it, groomed Casey for a few more minutes and then put him away.
The important things to add in here:
No one was touching Casey when he exploded.
-I had Doodle go in the tack room and close the door so she was completely out of harm’s way.
-Casey could have turned his butt toward me, but didn’t. He turned away from me when he was freaking out. At no time did he really offer to hurt me.
So, after a few minutes of grooming, I put Casey back in his stall. He was calm, gentle and it was like nothing had happened. When I put his blanket back on, Casey lowered his head and then pretty much blanketed himself. He tossed the blanket back over his head and down his neck himself. Casey’s never done that before. He usually tries to giraffe-neck when I put his blanket on.
After blanketing and while Casey was still haltered and calm, I had Doodle come in and pet Casey some more to help with her fears. I wanted the scary thing to be immediately followed up by something positive. Casey even lowered his head down for her to scratch his star (something he also doesn’t do). When Doodle felt more confident and really saw that Casey was ok and back to being Casey, we went down the barn and asked if we could pet Blaze, the lesson horse for a bit. Blaze had just finished his lesson and was about to be put away so we gave him pets and treats before Doodle and I put him away. Blaze licked Doodle a bunch and she was completely ok with horses again when we finally left.
No idea what triggered Casey to explode. It’s also the second time in a month. Both times were on the ground. The first was while he was being blanketed, the next while in the cross ties. He has not exploded under saddle. My trainer was sick so she wasn’t at the barn to discuss this with. I’m hoping she calls me back in the next day or two so we can compare notes.
The assistant trainer WAS at the barn. Unfortunately, he missed the blow up as he was giving a lesson to his grandson. Kerry (assistant trainer) said that Casey has been doing really well with his lope recently. They’re working on getting him to bend at the rib cage instead of throwing his hip out and they’re working on his cross-firing, which he thinks is related to Casey’s pain memory from his hip being out for who knows how long.
Also, just a week’s difference and Casey looks amazing! I’ll try to get pictures soon.
Now, on to panic snaps and cross ties…
I grew up with the panic snap end of cross ties being attached to the rings in the wall. The reasoning as explained to me was so that if a horse had a freak out or got tangled, you could quickly undo the panic snap from the wall and not be putting yourself in harms way. If the rings were too high up to easily reach, we’d tie a piece of baling twine between the snap and the ring so it would break in that case, preventing injury. Makes sense to me. It’s what I’m used to.
Here in Oregon, I don’t see cross ties done this way. The panic snap is always attached to the halter when a horse is in cross ties. Twine is not between the ring and the bolt snap. And everywhere I’ve boarded has fussed at me if I turn them around.
From yesterday’s experience (and I’ve never experienced a horse freaking out in cross ties), I prefer the panic snap to be attached to the wall rings. I would have been able to help Casey without endangering myself. And I could have had some control over him once the cross tie was detached from the ring, much like a lead rope.
If you cross-tie your horse, which way do you have the panic snaps? Are they on the wall or on the halter? Why or why not?