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Among The Stars - Part 2 of 8
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   10th Feb 2019   •   1,308 views   •   0 comments
Moo’s tantrums were getting worse. He was scheduled to compete in his first graded event, but before that we had a clinic scheduled with an Olympic level eventer. I said to my instructor just before that I was worried about taking him, in case he reared, and the clinic instructor wanted to get on and ‘sort him out’ for me. I had long since figured out that trying to ‘discipline’ Moo for this behaviour just made him angry.

Yes, Moo was very much the boss of me, I’ll admit that, and that he’d only behave worse and worse, until he became genuinely dangerous.

Among The Stars

You had to work with him, not against him. The only solution was to treat him like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, and ignore him completely, until he learned that his antics didn’t get him any attention and really weren’t worth the effort at all. At that point he’d settle down and get on with his work, because when it came down to it, as long as he got to clearly voice his displeasure about being asked to do something, he’d usually carry on and do it pretty well anyway. He just wanted everyone to know that he thought he was too good for the lot of us, and we should be performing tricks for him, not the other way around.

Among The Stars

In any case, we did attend the clinic, and of course, Moo reared, and of course, the instructor got on. Everything went pretty much as expected. He tried to discipline Moo for each rear, and as predicted, Moo got terribly offended, and behaved worse... and worse... and worse. The rider handled it all excellently, but the (very sweaty) horse he returned to me was still just as opinionated and reary as ever – only more angrily and self-righteously so. After this poor dressage session in the morning, Moo went on to spend an alarming amount of time on his hind legs before he was willing to go into the water during cross country practice in the evening. It was dangerous and ugly, and the clinic instructor pretty much told us that unless we could find a pain-related reason for his behaviour (and we had already checked for just about everything), we should get rid of him before somebody gets hurt.

Among The Stars

My mom, instructor and I were all on the brink of tears when we left that day, because honestly, we knew that he was right. But we also knew how talented our delinquent Moo was, and we all loved him dearly despite his attitude and dangerous quirks. On the recommendation of the clinic instructor, we started feeding him before riding to help prevent the movement of stomach acid, and that did seem to make a slight positive difference to his mood each time (though whether it was actually because the food reduced pain from ulcers, or just because the gift of the food pleased ‘His Royal Highness’, I’ll never know). We did end up taking him to his first event after that clinic, and as expected, he reared horribly at the water. But after voicing his displeasure, he got on with his job, and won the event anyway; and if that doesn’t sum up my incredibly bratty but even more incredibly talented horse, I don’t know what does. He was a character larger than life right from the start.

Moo gradually became more and more rideable, and began to do fairly well in his eventing. He was often placed in the top 3, but would also sometimes give me a firm ‘no’ in the middle of cross country, plant himself, and rear until he’d achieved the 3 stops needed for elimination. The more eventing he did though, the more he came to understand the country, and as he grew to understand it, he also grew to love it. Before long, Moo was as fearless and willing as you could ever wish an eventer to be. In 2012, as a five year old, he went to his first national championship. He had been selected for the showing team, but our main reason for competing was for him to do a bit of everything, and experience what it was like to participate in a big show. After Moo’s team event, we participated in the 80cm eventing, and after the dressage we were lying in 1st – at a national championship. If I wasn’t excited enough about Moo’s potential before, you can bet that I was pretty damn excited now!

Among The Stars

He came out of the stable a little stiff before the country, but seemed good to go, so we went ahead and jumped a beautiful clear inside the time. Then he came through the finish, and suddenly seized up completely. He could barely move – every step he took was a hop, and it was horrible to see. It was all we could do to get him to hop up a horsebox ramp so we could truck him back to his stable. I was in floods of tears - thinking that he had injured himself, that his career was over. We had every available vet check him, make a variety of diagnoses, but in the end we never quite figured out what was wrong. Within a few days he seemed perfectly fine, and the best guess was a pinched nerve. We had to scratch from the rest of the show, and I gave Moo a holiday over Christmas. It was a scare and a disappointment, but in the end, it seemed no harm was done.
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