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Cisco’s Story

by @ 11:53 am on July 3, 2013.

So far behind! I started writing this entry a year ago, and never finished it. So while it’s a little (ok, a lot) out of date now, I’m going to finish it anyway.

I had just started getting Cisco going really well and riding him often when we met with an unfortunate accident. There was a single high tensile wire across the dry lot that the stupid milk cows had pulled down. It was laying flat on the ground such that there was no way around it, only over it. We’d walked over it before with no problem. I mean, it’s 1/8″ thick. On the ground. Stepping over should not be a problem. Y’all are cringing already, right? Well, this time I don’t know if he didn’t see it or was just lazy or what, but he must have drug a foot on the wire which made a noise and spooked him. He spun around and with the kind of skill only a horse with terrible bad luck could have, wrapped the wire right around his left ankle. I’m sure the hopping, bucking, spooking fit that ensued was worse in my mind than it actually was because by some miracle I stayed on. Partly the ground is REALLY hard anymore and partly I figured if Cisco bolted and that wire yanked his leg out from under him at speed I’d spend the evening burying my horse.

I managed to dismount voluntarily and get by his head. Thankfully Ern returned to the barn a minute later, and came with the wire cutters to get him free. Twice his leg had jerked out from under him to the point he sat down. I honestly expected a deep cut around his pattern. Shockingly, the hair hadn’t even rubbed off. I honestly thought we had dodged a bullet. But over the next few days, Cisco became progressively lame up in his hip. I was bummed. I paid a lot for him, really hoping to find my perfect horse, and now he was really, really lame. All because I was dumb enough to try and ride over that wire. That was a hard lesson, and one I’ve never repeated.

That was the extent of the story I had originally planned to blog about at the time. But it’s been so long, it seems I may as well jump ahead and bring Cisco’s story to a close.

After 6 weeks I started losing hope he’d ever be fully sound. I talked Ern into buying me a temporary horse to ride through the winter, planning to sell him in the spring if Cisco healed up (a post on that coming soon… “Only a fool buys a lame horse”).

Time passed, and by early spring Cisco did finally come sound and I started riding him again. He’d had too much time off I think and was getting rotten. Ever since I bought him he would randomly fling himself backwards when tied, trying to break free. I was never told about that habit and didn’t see it coming so he did break loose a time or two before I got everything properly reinforced. And that only made it worse. I never liked that out of him, it always worried me if Sami should be nearby and get hurt. But he was a kitten under saddle and really fun to ride. So I dealt with him. I really liked the new horse, Toro, too. Both had their good and bad points that, in my head, made them about equal. But the point remained I had one butt and two riding horses, and it just seemed like I ought to downsize one of them. Time marched on, and I was on the fence about selling one or the other. Sometimes I’d list Cisco for sale, and sometimes I’d list Toro (the new horse). And then I’d reconsider and take the ads down. Finally the scales tipped against Cisco.

Cisco started being hard to catch, and nothing drives me crazier than that. And then he started rearing. The first lady to come look at him when he was for sale was an older lady, and clearly timid. The second her butt hit the saddle, Cisco reared (just a little thing) and went backwards a few steps. I’d have stayed on fine, but that poor lady went right off the other side. I felt horrible. I’d told her about him pulling back, and even showed her what he did. But I’d told her he’d always been fine with me under saddle. Which was true. I even got on immediately after making sure she was OK. And Cisco never moved a hoof. I got on and off several times, from both sides, bounced around in the saddle, and slid off his butt. He stood like a rock.

I can’t remember why, but I ended up putting him out in the big field with Mingo (part of the upcoming “Only a fool buys a lame horse post”). The time came when someone else wanted to come see him. It took me an HOUR and a HALF to catch that stupid horse. I chased him with the rhino the whole time. I was so mad at that stupid beast. When we finally caught him (only because Mingo cried uncle, and we tied her in a corral and Cisco followed her in) I rode him up to the barn. He was again fine with me under saddle. I’d made clear in his ad what he did with the rearing and that he needed an experienced rider. Supposedly the lady coming to look at him was. She played with a bit of ground work with him, saddled him up, and went to get on. Guess what? He reared. Same little 6″ off the ground hop. But it made her step back. She gave no correction at all. She went to get on again, and guess what? He reared again. And as before, I got on and he stood like a rock. She said no and left. That wound me almost as much as trying to catch him. The first lady was no one’s fault. I was shocked at what he did, and clearly he was not the horse for her. But the second lady… I put in his ad he needed an experienced rider. I described the rearing. She comes out and then says no because he rears. Seriously?? This wasn’t a surprise. She KNEW what he did, and agreed the ad was accurate about him. So if you don’t want a horse that rears, why go look at one? Ug.

I put Cisco out by himself, figuring that would make him easier to catch. And it did. So I calmed down about the catching issue, and once again started being on the fence about keeping him. I decided to go ahead and get some sales video of him, and I threw a lot at him. Literally. A big ball of Sami’s, ropes, plastic tarps, I harnessed and ground drove him… He was fine with every test I threw at him. If I had gone to look at a horse for sale and done all that to him and he reacted the way Cisco did, I’d have bought him on the spot. And so I was once again on the verge of keeping him. And then, because he’d been so good with everything else, Ern got the bright idea of seeing how he was with a gunshot. He broke away, and in the process of desensitizing him to the shots, he pushed into a new habit. He started rearing to get away. Now this would be a different story if he was so absolutely white with panic he had no idea what he was doing. That was absolutely not the case. He was unhappy about the shots, but he was most definitely not in a state of absolute panic. We continued to work with him up to the point he reared up, struck out, and brought a foot down on top of Ern’s head. Praise God he didn’t have shoes, and other than a good, solid headache, Ern was unhurt. But that was the final straw. He crossed the line from just trying to get away, to actually attacking and in my mind being dangerous. It’s bad enough with Ern or I. No way could I keep that around with the kids running under foot. I set in my mind then he had to go, and next trip to the stock sale his butt was going on the trailer. I had him on Craigslist for sale, and he ended up going to a guy I’d previously bought a horse from for $500. I lost my butt on him, but he left the property before anyone got seriously hurt.

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